THE BLOG

Long Live the Humble King

14/03/2014 12:58 GMT | Updated 14/05/2014 10:59 BST

A politician whose true internal drive comes from the betterment of society is a rare find. When I first met Tony Benn I knew I was in the presence of a special man with special motives.

It is a testimony to Benn's mindset that he was befriended by those whose political beliefs were shivering polar opposites to his own. He will be missed by both sides of the House more than any other figure I can recall.

I first had the pleasure to get to know Tony when I was the Director of the Campaign Against Pensioner Poverty. Every year, for over well over a decade, without fail, he attended the CAPP meetings at the Labour conference.

Pensioners were bussed in in from far and wide to listen to the great man alongside figures like Jack Jones, Barbara Castle and Professor Peter Townsend. We would also always have special 'guest celebrities' as well, everyone from Barbara Windsor to Anthony Booth, Cherie Blair's charismatic father.

The pensioners always loved Tony. He stayed behind to talk to them personally for over an hour on most occasions. Our lunchtime meetings often went on informally until after after 3pm. He would fret over the many problems that the elderly were dealing with and he always sought intelligent solutions.

At the other end of the spectrum Tony was passionately engaged with young people, with the student movement and with political education. He marched with students, as well as pensioners, and advocated tirelessly on behalf of marginalised youngsters - always encouraging them to realise their fullest potential.

Tony gave his time as generously as he gave his spirit. I was dazzled by him in many ways.

He was committed to the underdog; a true champion of those less fortunate than himself. The man was highly gifted intellectually. He understood and valued the right of the individual.

Even though he was from the most privileged background, Benn was a true giant of the working class. A true champion of those less fortunate than himself.

A democrat of true integrity. A passionate defender of social justice. Nothing less than a national hero.

Make no mistake, Tony Benn's departure is a loss to us all.