Several days ago, I began reading this book, which - even if you do not have an understanding or interest in postwar British politics - encapsulates the life of a truly noble, decent, and principled man.
It was early in the previous decade that I first became aware of Tony Benn, who was being interviewed on a radio show I was listening to at the time. I was profoundly impressed with Mr. Benn's words and the power of his convictions. So much so that I made it a point to learn more about him, his origins, and how he came to be what he was in life. Though hailing from a privileged background, Tony Benn always had a deep and abiding concern for the poor and working class. And what is especially striking to me is that as Tony Benn got older, he became more of a liberal, and a firm fixture in the 'left wing' of Britain's Labour Party.
Now I invite you, reader, to read the following quotes from the book, to give you some sense of what Tony Benn was all about.
"The first working day at home after my visit to Germany. It certainly was extremely interesting though an exhausting visit. There was a little cyst or boil of anti-German feeling in me which was lanced as a result of seeing the country. " - From diary entry of Monday, 21 January 1957.
"Barbara Castle confided in me last night that she had grave reservations about Harold [Wilson - leader of the Labour Party], and I have myself. He just doesn't like a showdown and yet until a political leader is prepared to fight a stand-up battle with his colleagues for the things in which he believes he can't be tempered by the fires of controversy ..." - From diary entry of Tuesday, 14 April 1964.
"Home has resigned the premiership and Harold Wilson has formed a government. We've waited thirteen years for this." - From diary entry of 16 October 1964.
"On Friday night there was a teach-in at the LSE [London School of Economics] in London on Vietnam. It was based on the 'teach-ins' that have appeared in the United States... ... I'm told that whenever Harold Wilson's name was mentioned at LSE people booed. It may well be that when the time comes the Labour Government will have been held to fail ... because it was not radical enough." - Diary entry of 13 June 1965.
"Harold [Wilson, the British Prime Minister] is terrified that if Jim Callaghan became Leader of the House of Commons he would conspire against Harold and weaken his position and we tried to reassure him that he was all right and had nothing to fear. It is extraordinary how a man in his position should have anxieties on that score." - From diary entry of Sunday, 20 February 1966