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Toby’s tribute to Tony Benn

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has joined thousands from across the world of politics in paying tribute to Tony Benn, the former Chesterfield MP who died today.

Toby said: “Tony was a political giant, one of the great orators of this or any era, and a man of tremendous principle, who could inspire feelings of support or opposition in so many people, as is the mark of the great politicians through the ages.”

Toby presents Tony Benn with a commemorative poster in 2013, to mark 30 years since he became Chesterfield's MP

Toby presents Tony Benn with a commemorative poster in 2013, to mark 30 years since he became Chesterfield’s MP

“Chesterfield was proud to have him as our MP, and he was fond and proud of Chesterfield in equal measure. No history book of politics in the second half of the 20th Century could ignore the contribution he made, or the passions he arose.

“The timing of him losing his seat in Bristol following the 1983 election and arriving in Chesterfield just as the Miners Strike was starting couldn’t have been scripted by a Hollywood producer, but he was in Chesterfield at that seminal moment in the Town’s history and his steadfastness in support of the Miners and the industry, alongside Dennis Skinner at that time will never be forgotten by anyone who was involved in politics in Chesterfield then.”

His contribution to democracy and as a great parliamentarian will also be remembered. From his brave fight to renounce his peerage, which saw him barred from the Commons for three years to the immense contributions that he made in parliament on occasions like the first Iraq war and the deposing of Margaret Thatcher were amongst the great parliamentary speeches of all time.”

Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband – who as a young man worked for Benn – released the following statement:

“The death of Tony Benn represents the loss of an iconic figure of our age. He will be remembered as a champion of the powerless, a great parliamentarian and a conviction politician.

“Tony Benn spoke his mind and spoke up for his values. Whether you agreed with him or disagreed with him, everyone knew where he stood and what he stood for. For someone of such strong views, often at odds with his Party, he won respect from across the political spectrum.

“This was because of his unshakeable beliefs and his abiding determination that power and the powerful should be held to account.

“He believed in movements and mobilised people behind him for the causes he cared about, often unfashionable ones. In a world of politics that is often too small, he thought big about our country and our world.

“Above all, as I had cause to know, he was an incredibly kind man. I did work experience with him at the age of 16. I may have been just a teenager but he treated me as an equal. It was the nature of the man and the principle of his politics.

“I saw him for the last time a couple of weeks ago in hospital. He may have been ailing in body but was as sharp as ever in mind. As I left he said to me “Well, old son. Let’s have a proper talk when you have more time.” As he said of his wife Caroline at her funeral, he showed us how to live and how to die.”

“All of my condolences go to his children Stephen, Hilary, Melissa and Joshua and his wider family. In their own ways, they are all a tribute to him as a father, a socialist, and a most decent human being.”

His son Hilary Benn responded to the message of condolence and solidarity from Chesterfield saying: “Thanks so much, please give everyone in Chesterfield our love and thanks. Chesterfield meant so much to Dad.”

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Welcome

I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

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