Rt Hon Tony Benn

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Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn

Birthdate: (88)
Birthplace: London, Middlesex, England
Death: March 14, 2014 (88)
Immediate Family:

Son of William Wedgwood Benn, 1st Viscount Stansgate, PC and Margaret Benn, Viscountess Stansgate
Husband of Caroline Benn
Father of <private> Wedgwood Benn; <private> Wedgwood Benn; <private> Wedgwood Benn and <private> Wedgwood Benn
Brother of Flight Lieutenant The Hon. Michael Julius Wedgwood Benn DFC and Hon David Julian Wedgwood Benn

Managed by: Michael Lawrence Rhodes
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Rt Hon Tony Benn

Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn PC (born 3 April 1925 - 14 March 2014), formerly 2nd Viscount Stansgate, British Labour Party politician who was a Member of Parliament (MP) for 50 years and a Cabinet Minister under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.

Benn's campaign to renounce his hereditary peerage was instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act 1963.

Benn has topped several polls as the most popular politician in Britain. He has been described as "one of the few UK politicians to have become more left-wing after holding ministerial office." Since leaving Parliament, Benn has become involved in the grass-roots politics of demonstrations and meetings, and has been the President of the Stop the War Coalition for the last decade. He has been a vegetarian since the 1970s.

Early life and family

Benn was born in London on 3 April 1925. Benn's paternal grandfather was John Benn, a successful politician who was created a baronet in 1914, and his father William Wedgwood Benn was a Liberal Member of Parliament who later crossed the floor to the Labour Party. He was appointed Secretary of State for India by Ramsay MacDonald in 1929, a position he held until 1931. He was elevated to the House of Lords with the title of Viscount Stansgate in 1941; the new wartime coalition government was short of working Labour peers in the upper house. From 1945 to 1946, he was the Secretary of State for Air in the first majority Labour Government.

Both his grandfathers, John Benn (who founded a publishing company)[8] and Daniel Holmes, were also Liberal MPs (respectively, for Tower Hamlets, Devonport and Glasgow Govan). Benn's contact with leading politicians of the day dates back to his earliest years; he met Ramsay MacDonald when he was five, David Lloyd George when he was 12 and Mahatma Gandhi in 1931, while his father was Secretary of State for India.

Benn's mother, Margaret Wedgwood Benn (née Holmes) (1897–1991), was a dedicated theologian, feminist and the founder President of the Congregational Federation. She was a member of the League of the Church Militant, which was the predecessor of the Movement for the Ordination of Women – in 1925 she was rebuked by Randall Thomas Davidson, the Archbishop of Canterbury, for advocating the ordination of women.

His mother's theology had a profound influence on Benn, as she taught him that the stories in the Bible were based around the struggle between the prophets and the kings and that he ought in his life to support the prophets over the kings, who had power, as the prophets taught righteousness.

A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine: The Last Diaries by Tony Benn. Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (October 24, 2013). Author: Tony Benn. 320 pages


  • Years of Hope: Diaries 1940–62, Hutchinson (1994); ISBN 978-0-09-178534-5
  • Out of the Wilderness: Diaries 1963–67, Hutchinson (1987); ISBN 978-0-09-170660-9
  • Office Without Power: Diaries 1968–72, Hutchinson (1988); ISBN 978-0-09-173647-7
  • Against the Tide: Diaries 1973–76, Hutchinson (1989); ISBN 978-0-09-173775-7
  • Conflicts of Interest: Diaries 1977–80, Hutchinson (1990); ISBN 978-0-09-174321-5
  • The End of an Era: Diaries 1980–90, Hutchinson (1992); ISBN 978-0-09-174857-9
  • The Benn Diaries: Single Volume Edition 1940–90, Hutchinson (1995); ISBN 978-0-09-179223-7
  • Free at Last!: Diaries 1991–2001, Hutchinson (2002); ISBN 978-0-09-179352-4
  • More Time for Politics: Diaries 2001–2007, Hutchinson (2007); ISBN 978-0-09-951705-4
  • A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine: The Last Diaries, Hutchinson (2013); ISBN 978-0-09-194387-5
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Rt Hon Tony Benn's Timeline

April 3, 1925
London, Middlesex, England
March 14, 2014
Age 88