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Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour activists pay tribute to Tony Benn


Welsh politicians across the political spectrum have paid tribute to Labour party stalwart Tony Benn who died this morning.

Mr Benn, 88, passed away this morning at his West London home, surrounded by members of his closest family, prompting all sides of the political environment to join in tribute to one of the most iconic Labour party politicians.

Mr Benn spent over half a century as a Member of Parliament where his dedicated, and often radical, socialist views earned him distinction among the Labour party ranks.

Benn also served in the Cabinet under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.

During the party’s ‘wilderness years’ of the 1980s, Benn enjoyed status as the leading light of the hard-left of the Labour party. His closest followers, known as “Bennites”, can still be found within Labour circles today.

After leaving Westminster politics, Benn, who was most recognisable with his pipe in full smoke, diverted his committed beliefs to the grassroots of politics, becoming a prominent speaker in opposition to the Iraq War, Tony Blair and New Labour.

Despite his absence from the green benches of Parliament, Benn continued to hoover up support from the left wing of Labour and other parties with a centre-left perspective.

His direction of the Stop the War Coalition continued from its inception in 2003 until his death.

His brand of outspoken socialism inspired a new generation of left-leaning politicians and those on the Labour contingent who would like to usher in a return to the Clause IV days of working-class collective action.

Among those owing their early involvement in politics to Benn was First Minister Carwyn Jones, who said via Twitter: “Sad news this morning. Tony Benn was an inspiration to many who believed passionately in social justice. My thoughts are with his family.”

Often described as one of the most popular politicians in the UK, Benn continued his dedication to social justice throughout his life with only a stroke in 2012 being able to slow the activist down.

Welsh Labour Grassroots, a network of left-wing Labour activists and members, paid tribute to Benn.

Nick Davies, Chairman of the group said: “I heard Tony Benn speak many times and what I liked about him was that even though he was born into a privileged background he was a champion of the underdog and the working people. He was not afraid to say that he had made mistakes I remember seeing him speak at Lambeth Town Hall during the miner’s strike and he spoke with passion and energy.

“People say he is irreplaceable but I hope not. There needs to be more people like him in politics. He has had tributes from all across the political spectrum and it shows how much people respected him.”

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