Will the Third Viscount Stansgate decline his title or not?

Over to Stephen to make this decision now.

Yes, I know, perhaps something else to think about today as well but that is indeed the interesting question to me.

22 thoughts on “Will the Third Viscount Stansgate decline his title or not?”

  1. The BBC revolts me. A man who supported the USSR in which millions died and millions more went to labour camps, where you were shot if you tried to leave, where you queued for bread even as the leaders sped past to their dachas, is being lionised and eulogised.

    Yet to hear a word against him. Compare with their treatment of Maggie, who let poor people own their own homes.

  2. Someone should open a book on how long it will take before we hear about his relations with the USSR. It was several years after Footie died before we heard about his little subventions.

  3. Benn, like Jenkins and above all Crosland, was one of that generation of Labour pols responsible for the most philistine act in British history, the deliberate wrecking of the schools. May they all rot in hell.

  4. Dearieme – At a minimum I would hazard someone so eminent and doctrinaire a socialist whom, as you say was sympathetic to the Soviet cause, would have been classified as an ‘agent of influence’by the KGB. Unlike with Foot the evidence isn’t in the public domain (the allegations against Foot came out before he died) which would suggest he might have ranked higher on the scale. As you say, no doubt it will come out in due course, much as the confirmation about Foot and the truth about Union baron Jack Jones did after his death….

  5. Although commentary on his career occasionally touches on the Falklands War for its impact on the outcome of the 1983 election, it seems quite shy of recalling his resolute opposition to retaking the islands.

    At the time I would not have been outraged by his stance had he based it on prudence or proportionality, but the way in which he moralistically decried the enterprise as a colonial adventure struck me as using the world “colonialism” in precisely as dishonest a way as Joseph Macarthy used the word “communism” – with no excuse as he was far less stupid than Tailgunner Joe.

  6. Having discussed the Falklands question with several Argentines over the years, ignoring now the blind rage and incoherence to which they have been conditioned to respond to the topic, all the talk of “colonialism” with respect to the FI is laughable. The Argentines don’t even want to do anything with them – none of them want to live there, they no longer have any strategic value to them since they are no longer needed as a coaling/provisioning stop on the way around the cape (although they do generate a slice of the Antartic which…. has no strategic value and no-one is allowed to live there permanently anyway…) Basically they want them cos they’re sorta kinda next door (like the Faroes are to scotland only further) and someone else has them. Oh, and there may be oil or not. But if there is, it belongs to the Bennies in any case, most of whom trace longer ancestry in the FI than most Argentines do in Argentina.

    Basically, Argentina wants to colonise the Bennies and their sheep. So really doesn’t that make the Falklands war a war of anti-colonial liberation?

  7. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I thought the plaudits for Bob Crow were pretty emetic, but the stench that is already rising now that Wedgie Benn has finally had the long-overdue decency to pop his clogs is quite appalling.

  8. The change in the law he campaigned for that allowed him to renounce his title and continue as an MP, has anyone else ever benefitted from it?

  9. Sir Alec Douglas-Home benefitted (briefly at least) by becoming Prime Minister. Quintin Hogg (Viscount Hailsham) also disclaimed his peerage in order to seek the leadership of the Conservative Party when Macmillan resigned in 1963.

  10. @ Runcie Balspune
    In addition to Alex M’s comment: Sir Max Aitken declared that “there can only ever be one Lord Beaverbrook”
    However it seems his son had a different opinion when Sir Max died

  11. @monoi

    I’m reminded of the joke about the protestant becoming a catholic on his death bed, or vice versa, and, with his dying words, declaring: “that’s another one of the bastards dead”.

    Maybe we should sign up to the SWP on our death beds.

    I nipped over there to see how much it would cost. If you are employed, it is 10 to 30 quid per month depending on income and circumstances so they are believers in progressive membership fees.

    They are eulogising Wedgie under the headline: Tony Benn 1925-2014 – Inspiring socialist who moved left through his life.

  12. So Much for Subtlety

    Alan Peakall – “struck me as using the world “colonialism” in precisely as dishonest a way as Joseph Macarthy used the word “communism” – with no excuse as he was far less stupid than Tailgunner Joe.”

    What was dishonest about the way that Joe McCarthy used the word “communism”? It seems to me that he was pretty much right about everything – except perhaps the exact numbers.

    And what is the evidence he was stupid much less as stupid as Tony Benn?

  13. SMFS, Some of McCarthy’s targets may have been knowing tools of Stalin in positions of trust, but others were loyal, decent citizens whose “communist” political convictions had as little to do with tyrannical genocide as the tenure of the Kelpers had to do with authentically colonialist genocide and dispossession of indigenous peoples. That parallel in the use of an emotively loaded term to inhibit a listener’s capacity for critical thought is the essence of my point.

  14. So Much for Subtlety

    Alan Peakall – “Some of McCarthy’s targets may have been knowing tools of Stalin in positions of trust, but others were loyal, decent citizens whose “communist” political convictions had as little to do with tyrannical genocide as the tenure of the Kelpers had to do with authentically colonialist genocide and dispossession of indigenous peoples.”

    Name three. I mean I do not doubt there were three, as he named a lot of people and some of them were bound to be innocent, but actually pretty much everyone he fingered was actually guilty. He may have been too conservative.

    And he did raise a very important issue: a large percentage of American intellectuals were actually committing treason by taking money to support a genocidal regime that was working to invade the West and impose that genocide here.

    The Left has been whining about it ever since, but usually dishonestly. It is a scandal that people like Eli Kazan, who told the truth, should have suffered and those that worked for Stalin didn’t.

    “That parallel in the use of an emotively loaded term to inhibit a listener’s capacity for critical thought is the essence of my point.”

    Then the issue ought to be about the inability of Leftists to think when they hear the word “McCarthy”. Not JM’s almost entirely correct views about pretty much everything.

  15. So Much for Subtlety

    I am afraid that Tony Benn always brought out the worst in me. Very uncharitable thoughts. Including the wish that he would have a long, long, long life. In the arms of his beloved socialism. Or at least the closest we can come to it in the UK.

    That is, in a Local Council Aged Care Home.

    But it is shameful and I do feel bad for wishing it on him. And even worse, with his money I doubt he came close.

  16. On MccCarthy & supposed communists.
    A past girlfiend’s father was a Hollywood film director, thrown out in the McCarthy years for being a “communist”. But he was indeed a communist. May have dated back to flying with the “Flying Tigers” in China during WW2. His daughter was also a CPUS member. And plenty of evidence, of the time, to support the accusation. Family friends included well known communist sympathisers. There’s a photo of the daughter together with parents,Woody Guthrie, son Arlo & a very young Bob Dylan taken at their house in Woodstock, NY
    Xochitl, alas, died last year in London.

  17. Tony Benn’s death has certainly brought out the mean spirited best in you lot: accusations of espionage;Joe McCarthy was right about Communists in American public life? (Yeah they’d just fought a World War in very close co-operation with them, with American government becoming very much more Statist.Eisenhower[ Republican] built the massive American highway system immediately post war).
    Tony Benn felt that, without UK government involvement, jobs and industry would vanish .Not wrong there .He opposed the selling of council houses. With no industry and out of control house price inflation much of the British economy has been taken over by unproductive know-alls bribed to be unproductive and wait for their houses to make more than they do in the biggest something for nothing of all time.It all came crashing down in 2008 (.Never mind! What is a world wide financial melt down in the great scheme of things?We can always make the workers’ pay with austerity cuts.Just as long as the house price inflation gets going again.)
    You may have ended Benn’s last ditch schemes for continuing industry in this country ; you may have kiboshed Socialism but you have not ended up with Capitalism by default.You have ended up with something not Capitalism/ and not Socialism either. A cross between Homeownerism and straight fascism but without the ceremonial book burnings etc. Dreary, stay- at- home, fascism watching austerity televison and going to Tescos. A full life!..
    Even the Cold war panic: the Russians are encroaching on our spheres of influence (what used to be mainly British until the Americans muscled us out) is being shown up in Bennite colours. The West is obviously closing the noose on Russia in the Ukraine looking to extend Nato missile launchers up to Russia’s borders.
    So you’ve got it all wrong.Not to worry : you’re winning.

  18. I don’t think you get to decline a peerage – you inherit it and may then renounce it, but that’s not quite the same as declining it.

    Once the holder of the title dies, the heir inherits it. The law was changed (initially for the benefit of Tony Benn himself) to allow the holder of a peerage to renounce it, but this did not affect the inheritance: once the person who had renounced the peerage died, his son or other heir inherited it in the usual way, as has presumably just happened.

    In any event, other things have changed. The reason the law allowing for the renunciation of peerages was necessary was because nobody is permitted to be a member of both houses of parliament at the same time, and therefore peers could not be members of the House of Commons, where all the power now resides. Since Labour changed the composition of the House of Lords and hereditary peers are no longer automatically members of the House of Lords, they are also no longer barred from standing for the House of Commons.

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