Tony Benn Dead: Labour Politician And Passionate Voice Of The Left Dies Aged 88

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Veteran Labour politician Tony Benn has died at home at the age of 88, his family said today.

The former cabinet minister died this morning at his home in west London surrounded by family members.

In a statement his children Stephen, Hilary, Melissa and Joshua said: "It is with great sadness that we announce that our father Tony Benn died peacefully early this morning at his home in west London surrounded by his family.

tony benn pipe

Tony Benn has died at home at the age of 88

"We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the NHS staff and carers who have looked after him with such kindness in hospital and at home.

"We will miss above all his love which has sustained us throughout our lives. But we are comforted by the memory of his long, full and inspiring life and so proud of his devotion to helping others as he sought to change the world for the better.

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"Arrangements for his funeral will be announced in due course."

Benn was admitted to Charing Cross Hospital in London at the beginning of February after feeling unwell, and returned home on March 4. His death comes just days after the loss of a left-wing hero of a later generation, RMT union boss Bob Crow.

Labour leader Ed Miliband paid tribute to an "iconic figure of our age".

He said: "He will be remembered as a champion of the powerless, a great parliamentarian and a conviction politician.

"Tony Benn spoke his mind and spoke up for his values. Whether you agreed with him or disagreed with him, everyone knew where he stood and what he stood for.

"For someone of such strong views, often at odds with his party, he won respect from across the political spectrum.

"This was because of his unshakeable beliefs and his abiding determination that power and the powerful should be held to account.

"He believed in movements and mobilised people behind him for the causes he cared about, often unfashionable ones. In a world of politics that is often too small, he thought big about our country and our world.

"Above all, as I had cause to know, he was an incredibly kind man. I did work experience with him at the age of 16. I may have been just a teenager but he treated me as an equal. It was the nature of the man and the principle of his politics.

"I saw him for the last time a couple of weeks ago in hospital. He may have been ailing in body but was as sharp as ever in mind. As I left he said to me 'Well, old son. Let's have a proper talk when you have more time'.

"As he said of his wife Caroline at her funeral, he showed us how to live and how to die.

"All of my condolences go to his children Stephen, Hilary, Melissa and Joshua and his wider family. In their own ways, they are all a tribute to him as a father, a socialist, and a most decent human being."

Former prime minister Tony Blair, and an old sparring partner of Benn, said: "Tony Benn was one of those rare things - a genuine radical for all his life. He was a fearless campaigner and a legendary figure for the Labour movement.

"Even when I disagreed with him, I always had enormous respect for his brilliance, his passion and his commitment to the people of Britain and of the world.

"My thoughts are with his family - with whom he was very close."

Former prime minister Gordon Brown said: "Tony Benn was a powerful, fearless, relentless advocate for social justice and people's rights whose writing as well as speeches will continue to have a profound influence on generations to come.

"My thoughts are with his family, whom he adored."

The Prime Minister David Cameron has paid tribute on Twitter:

Former foreign secretary Dame Margaret Beckett said Benn had been a "brilliant speaker" on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

She said: "People who heard him speak up and down the country will never forget it... people may or may not agree with him but they would come out of a public meeting he had addressed saying 'I didn't agree with any of it, but it was wonderful'.

"He had such clarity of expression, he opened people's eyes and he made them think.

"He was fantastic (to work for). Delightful, friendly, very open minded and interested always in new ideas... a really charming, nice man.

"He made enemies and kept enemies but on the whole I think most people regarded him with a good degree of affection, long before he got sufficiently old, as he said himself, he can't do any more harm."

Labour politicians have been tweeting tributes to the man who inspired many of them into political life.

Conservative politicians have also tweeted their sadness at their old adversary's passing.

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