Monday, August 08, 2005

Tony Benn - "Dare to be a Daniel"

I have just finished reading a fabulous book called Dare to be a Daniel by Tony Benn.

I am biased as Tony Benn is my greatest political hero.

For the benefit of Blogging friends of mine outside the UK, Tony Benn is a Labour Politician and is now almost 80 years old.

He never became leader of the Labour Party - more is the pity in my view.

But he was a leading politician – very powerful - and always outspoken with frank and honest views setting him apart from the normal dull and boring politicians who simply stick to their party line, come what may.

Tony Benn is a man of great conviction.

He is also - in my opinion - the greatest Political speaker I have heard since I started getting interested in politics around the age of 18 years - about 35 years ago.

His book is written with typical Tony Benn ‘upfrontness.’

There are no punches pulled about how British politics really works. His prediction about too much power being in other than democratic hands is worrying. He argues persuasively there already is too much power in the hands of a few highly wealthy people or corporations - and that it will get worse - threatening democracy in the west as we currently recognise it.

On the 'non-political front' - the book contains many little gems of humour, humility, wisdom. There are numerous touching references to the love he shared with his wife of 51 years until her death in 2000. Tony Benn is obviously very proud of his family.

By his own admission he was born into a wealthy family and had a privileged upbringing in a loving and warm family. Despite that he comes across as a man who fought battles for people who were not so well off as he.

I just love the simplicity and creativity of the wonderful advice Tony Benn’s father him when he was 8 years old.

This is how it is described in the book.

"Father once said to me, ‘Never wrestle with a chimney sweep’, which was a curious piece of advice to give an eight year old, but I now understood exactly what he meant: ‘If someone plays dirty with you, don’t play dirty with them or you will get dirty too’ My attempts to keep personal abuse out of political controversy has been shaped by that simple phrase about how to steer clear of chimneysweeps. I recommend it to others without reservation."


Omara said...

Great man he should be and unfortunately not very common kind politic.

Question: the tittle "Dare to be a a Daniel" - which I must say I love- refers to Daniel in the cave of the lions, from the Bible, doesn't it?

I must confess I don't read the Bible as often as I should these days, but undoubtely, to me, it is the number one book (!)

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Omara

Tony Benn's father always said that 'Daniel in the lions den' best described his feeling of fighting as the underdog - I love that idea.

Tony Benn has always fought battles for the underdog throughout his political career.

And yes I agree the bible is the best book - shame I do not seem to find enough time to read more of it.

Annie and I try to remind ourselves of its content by regularly attending church and hearing from the experts :-)