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Suffolk/UK: Local tributes to political icon Tony Benn

17:50 14 March 2014

Tony Benn with David Dimbleby filming Question Time in Ipswich in 2006

Tony Benn with David Dimbleby filming Question Time in Ipswich in 2006

The death of veteran left-winger Tony Benn prompted tributes from political friends and foes from across the region.

Labour MEP for the East of England Richard Howitt said Mr Benn was Tony Benn as one of the finest political speakers in the history of the Labour Party.

He said: “Tony Benn was an inspiration to me and many young people coming into the Labour Party, and with his very sad loss today our party has lost one of the finest teachers, prophets and thinkers in its history.

“Tony Benn taught me that to be a politician you also had to be a teacher, and he was always someone who put policies before personalities or polls.

“My first meeting with him was when he came to my university in the wake of an attempted coup in Spain, where he drove home his lifelong passion for the importance of parliamentary democracy.

“An abiding memory for me about Tony was in regularly attending his late night conversations over a pot of tea at Labour Party Conference which always bubbled with ideas, argument and humour.”

Lord Deben, the former Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer, crossed swords with Mr Benn on several occasions – and remembers him as a “wonderful speaker.”

“He was a real challenger of received wisdom but I think his extreme views cost the Labour Party hugely.”

Lord Deben said it was necessary for the extremes of both parties to come up with ideas to challenge the leadership – but these extreme views could frighten voters.

“That is what happened to Labour at that time (during the 1980s). He was always very dogmatic and prepared to argue his point of view.

“In some ways he was very old fashioned – he always opposed the EU and he also opposed the merger between the Congregationalists and Presbyterians to form the United Reformed church.”

However he was always very courteous and polite – and was true to his views come what may.


The A120

New figures have revealed journey times on the A120 double during rush hour – leading one campaigner to dub it “no more than a country lane”.

Network Rail will look at the pedestrian crossings in a bid to speed services.

Rail improvements with the start of the new franchise must not be confined to the main line to London, delegates at Suffolk’s rail conference heard yesterday.

Work has begun in the new Felixstowe Fire and Police Station.
L-R Mark Hardingham,Cllr Matthew Hicks,Mayor Jan Garfield,Gareth Wilson and Tim Passmore.

Work has started on the latest joint police and fire service base in Suffolk following a “ground breaking” ceremony yesterday.

Frankel welcomes guests to Newmarket National Heritage Centre

Her Majesty The Queen is to officially open the new £15million National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in the Suffolk town of Newmarket, where many of her own horses are trained and stabled.

A driver has reported they may have seen missing airman Corrie McKeague walking towards Honington in the early hours of September 24

A driver who may have seen missing airman Corrie McKeague has come forward to police.

Abnormal loads will be making their way along the roads of Suffolk over the next two weeks

Motorists in Suffolk are being warned to watch out for traffic delays as three abnormal loads slowly make their way long the county’s roads over the next two weeks.

The 352d Special Operations Wing held a memorial on June 20 to say goodbye to SSgt Hunter Davis of the 352 SOMXS who lost his life in a tragic vehicle accident June 7.

Sending a text while driving most likely caused the death of a Suffolk airman, who lost control of his car moments after using his phone, an inquest has heard.

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