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Anthony Wedgwood Benn

Politics in the Sixties
by

Tom Smith

on 21 April 2010

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Transcript of Anthony Wedgwood Benn

Politics in the Sixties Family Background Born: 3rd April 1925
Father was a Liberal Party MP, who moved to the labour party. He became Lord Wedgwood Benn.
Anthony met David Lloyd George and Mathatma Ghandi in his early life, due to his family's profile.
His mother was a theologian and feminist.

A young Benn...
Anthony Wedgwood Benn Studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University.
Became President of Oxford Union.
Early career: Royal Air Force, serving as a Pilot Officer.
Met and proposed to Caroline Middleton DeCamp within 9 days in 1949.
Benn in Government Tony Benn became the Labour MP for Bristol (South East) in 1963
Father became Viscount Stansgate, a title (created in 1943) which would be inherited by Benn's brother, Michael. Michael died during the war (whilst serving in the RAF) and Anthony became the heir, and became the Viscount Stansgate upon his father's death in 1960.
As a "peer" he could no longer sit in the House of Commons as an MP, as he was entitled to a seat in the House of Lords. However... Tony Benn did not want the peerage title, so insisted on its abandonment.
He fought for his seat in a by-election in 1961, and despite being ineligible to take his seat, he had the support of the people of South-East Bristol; the seat was awarded to Benn's conservative opponent.
The Conservative government decided the Law needed to be changed and The Peerage Act was passed in 1963.
Peers could now abandon their titles; Benn was the first, and won a By-election in August that year, reclaiming his seat.
Benn's role in the Government Benn was appointed Postmaster General in 1964:
Built the Post Office Tower (then tallest building)
Created Postal Bus Service and Girobank
Replaced stamp with modern stamp.
Benn's campaign against Pirate Radio Stations:
Benn headed the campaign for the Labour Government
Responsible for the introduction of the Marine Broadcasting Offences Bill (which finished off Pirate Radios) Which became Law in 1967.
The Minister in the film "The Boat That Rocked" (2009) played by Kenneth Branagh is loosely based on Anthony Wedgwood Benn. Benn as Minister of Technology:
Development of Concorde
Formation of International Computers Ltd.

Benn held this position until Labour lost the
election to the Conservatives in 1970. Benn's later Government Career:
Chairman of the Labour Party (20th September 1971 - 25th September 1972)
Secretary of State for Industry (5th March 1974 - 10th June 1975)
Secretary of State for Energy (10th June 1975 - 4th May 1979)

Benn resigned from Parliament in 2001, and later became President of the "Stop the War Coalition" - which is campaigning currently against the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tom Smith
Full transcript