Last night at the count for the vote in Croydon South, Emily Benn was able to draw on support from her father, the Viscount of Stansgate. Stansy, the son of social democracy’s finest aristocrat turned man-of-the-people, reclaimed the title after his father, Tony Benn died last year.
I have a great deal of respect for Tony Benn as I like conviction politicians and he certainly gave the powerful plenty to think about. I would never use the death of Tony Benn to criticise either the new Viscount or Emily. However, Tony provided us with 5 simple questions to ask people in power and reardless of who the person is we should be able to ask those questions. They are listed thus:
What power have you got?
Where did you get it from?
In whose interests do you exercise it?
To whom are you accountable?
How can we get rid of you?
I often think that really we only need one question: why don’t you fuck off? But we should perhaps be a bit more charitable. In the case of a man who has reclaimed an aristocratic title and presumably has ambitions to enter the House of Lords questions 1,2,4 and 5 are obvious. The 3rd remains to be ascertained. But all I wanted to know was why? Why had he decided to reclaim the title. Instead of providing a cogent answer he used his father’s death in a quite unseemly way. “I will tell you”, he said “my father died.”
Yes we know that and we mourned because we valued some of the stuff he did in his life but why did you reclaim the title he’d had the good grace to renounce?
“If you keep going on about my father’s death I will say goodbye.” and he headed for a flounce. I pointed out to him that we were not referring to his father but to him directly and to his lack of integrity in believing he should be born into a position of power but he was off. He simply refused to answer.
One day maybe someone will be able to ask all five questions. I am truly sorry for the loss that the Benn family feel but they cannot be allowed to hide behind that whilst they assume power. Stansy needs to answer why he thinks it suitable to reclaim a title that his father renounced and Emily needs to explain her position on the situation.