tony benn Quotes
Tony Benn QuotesBirth Date: 1926-08-03 (Tuesday, August 3rd, 1926)
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- [I am against] the Treaty of Rome which entrenches laissez faire as its philosophy and chooses bureaucracy as its administrative method.
- The flag of racialism which has been hoisted in Wolverhampton is beginning to look like the one that fluttered 25 years ago over Dachau and Belsen.
- Change from below, the formulation of demands from the populace to end unacceptable injustice, supported by direct action, has played a far larger part in shaping British democracy than most constitutional lawyers, political commentators, historians or statesmen have ever cared to admit. Direct action in a democratic society is fundamentally an educational exercise.
- Workers are not going to be fobbed off with a few shares...or by a carbon copy of the German system of co-determination.
- We want industry to be in the public sector, to change the power structure of our society...We have not yet carved out of public enterprise a wide enough area of management decision which ought properly to be brought within the ambit of the workers themselves.
- [Men] who would rather go to jail than betray what they believe to be their duty to their fellow workers and the principles which they hold.
- Britain is the only colony in the British Empire and it is up to us now to liberate ourselves.
- I sometimes wish the trade unionists who work in the mass media, those who are writers and broadcasters and secretaries and printers and lift operators of Thomson House would remember that they too are members of our working class movement and have a responsibility to see that what is said about us is true.
- The 1973 Labour Conference will have before it the most radical programme the Party has prepared since 1945.
- The [pay] policy is principally designed to hold down wages rather than to check inflation. Inflation is being used as an excuse to destroy free trade union bargaining.
- The engineers are taking their stand on grounds of conscience...Conscientious objection to the law is not a criminal act. These people are our people and we should take a principled stand, together.
- It will enable a Labour Government to do all they want under Labour's Programme for Britain...It will give us the powers to control all the oil companies, all the multinationals, to fix their prices and their distribution systems.
- [Edward Heath], who sold out Britain's interests to the Common Market and gave our sovereignty away without our consent-with support of Mr Thorpe and the Liberals-is not entitled to wave the Union Jack to get himself out of the mess.
- What we lack in Government is entrepreneurial ability.
- Britain's continuing membership of the Community would mean the end of Britain as a completely self-governing nation and the end of our democratically elected Parliament as the supreme law making body in the United Kingdom.
- He has a deep contempt for Britain, the British people and parliamentary democracy. He is trying to climb back to power via the Treaty of Rome, and put Britain under government from Brussels for ever. In 1970 Mr Heath solemnly promised that he would not take Britain into the Common Market without the full-hearted consent of the British people. He broke his pledged word then, and he now says he will not accept a 'No' vote on Thursday. Heath promised more jobs and higher living standards inside the EEC. These promises were all broken, and he now tells us we are so poor we cannot come out; beggars can't be chooses. That is false, too. Heath's leadership has been a total disaster for the British people. The Tory Party threw him out.
- Through me the energy policy of the whole Common Market is being held up. Without opening old wounds, it pleases me no end.
- When we have a majority we will do it. I think the days of the Lords are quite genuinely numbered.
- Anyone from abroad will tell you that it is the class system that really lies at the root of our problems, economic and industrial. The House of Lords symbolises that.
- The general election of 1983 has produced one important result that has passed virtually without comment in the media. It is that, for the first time since 1945, a political party with an openly socialist policy has received the support of over eight and a half million people. This is a remarkable development by any standards and it deserves some analysis ... the 1983 Labour manifesto commanded the loyalty of millions of voters and a democratic socialist bridge-head in public understanding and support can be made.
- People say that if we work for the Single European Act, women will get their rights, the water will be purer, and training will be better. That is rubbish. It is part of the attempt to consolidate the EEC.
- It would be inconceivable for the House to adjourn for Easter without recording the fact that last Friday the High Court disallowed an Act which was passed by this House and the House of Lords and received Royal Assent - the Merchant Shipping Act 1988. The High Court referred the case to the European Court...I want to make it clear to the House that we are absolutely impotent unless we repeal Section 2 of the European Communities Act. It is no good talking about being a good European. We are all good Europeans; that is a matter of geography and not a matter of sentiment. Are the arrangements under which we are governed such that we have broken the link between the electorate and the laws under which they are governed? I am an old parliamentary hand - perhaps I have been here too long - but I was brought up to believe, and I still believe, that when people vote in an election they must be entitled to know that the party for which they vote, if it has a majority, will be able to enact laws under which they will be governed. That is no longer true. Any party elected, whether it is the Conservative party or the Labour party can no longer say to the electorate, 'Vote for me and if I have a majority I shall pass that law', because if that law is contrary to Common Market law, British judges will apply Common Market law.
- If democracy is destroyed in Britain it will be not the communists, Trotskyists or subversives but this House which threw it away. The rights that are entrusted to us are not for us to give away. Even if I agree with everything that is proposed, I cannot hand away powers lent to me for five years by the people of Chesterfield. I just could not do it. It would be theft of public rights.
- Had a long talk to the Chinese First Secretary at the embassy - a very charming man called Liao Dong - and said how much I admired Mao Tse tung or Zedong, the greatest man of the twentieth century. He said that I couldn't admire Mao more than he did. I asked him how Mao was viewed now. He said Mao was 70 per cent right and 30 per cent wrong; the Cultural Revolution didn't work. He said he had been named after Mao - it was amusing.
- Having served for nearly half a century in the House of Commons, I now want more time to devote to politics and more freedom to do so.
- [The Labour Party]'s never been a socialist party, but it's always had socialists in it, just as there are some Christians in the Church, it's an exact parallel.
- My Great-grandfather was a Congregational Minister and my Mother was a Bible scholar, and I was brought up on the Bible, that the story of the Bible was conflict between the kings who had power, and the prophets who preached righteousness. And I was taught to believe in the prophets, got me into a lot of trouble. And my Dad said to me when I was young, 'Dare to be a Daniel, Dare to stand alone, Dare to have a purpose firm, Dare to let it (be) known.'
- Well I came across Marx rather late in life actually, and when I read him, two things: first of all I realised that he'd come to the conclusion about capitalism which I'd come to much later, and I was a bit angry he'd thought of it first; and secondly, I see Marx who was an old Jew, as the last of the Old Testament Prophets, this old bearded man working in the British Library, studying capitalism, that's what 'Das Kapital' was about, it was an explanation of British capitalism. And I thought to myself, 'Well anyone could write a book like that, but what infuses, what comes out of his writing, is the passionate hostility to the injustice of capitalism. He was a Prophet, and so I put him in that category as an Old Testament Prophet.
- I was born about a quarter of a mile from where we are sitting now and I was here in London during the Blitz. And every night I went down into the shelter. 500 people killed, my brother was killed, my friends were killed. And when the Charter of the UN was read to me, I was a pilot coming home in a troop ship: 'We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.' That was the pledge my generation gave to the younger generation and you tore it up. And it's a war crime that's been committed in Iraq, because there is no moral difference between a stealth bomber and a suicide bomber. Both kill innocent people for political reasons.
- ... Ideas are more powerful than guns.
- If one meets a powerful person--Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin or Bill Gates--ask them five questions: 'What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?' If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system.
- The way change occurs to begin with, if you come up with a good idea, like heathcare, you're ignored. If you go on you must be mad, absolutely stark-staring bonkers. If you go on after that you're dangerous. Then, if the pressure keeps up there's a pause. And then you can't find anyone at the top who doesn't claim to have thought of it in the first place. That's how progress is made.
- All war represents a failure of diplomacy.
- We have been in recess since July, and during that time there have been a fuel crisis, a Danish no vote, the collapse of the Euro and a war in the middle east, but what is our business tomorrow? The Insolvency Bill [Lords]. It ought be called the Bankruptcy Bill [Commons], because we play no role.
- [O]ne of the twntieth century's most committed parlamentarians
- I have always said this of Tony: he immatures with age.
- A faith is something you die for, a doctrine is something you kill for. There is all the difference in the world.
- All the emphasis on crime and drugs and pornography used to justify the supression of the Internet is really aimed at supressing knowledge of the radical political alternatives that are now available.
- If democracy is ever to be threatened, it will not be by revolutionary groups burning government offices and occupying the broadcasting and newspaper offices of the world. It will come from disenchantment, cynicism and despair caused by the realization that the New World Order means we are all to be managed and not represented.
- The House of Lords is the British Outer Mongolia for retired politicians.
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