Sunday, 18 January 2009

An Evening with Tony Benn

Went to Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford with Sophie to see Tony Benn. Fascinating historical insight. He explained that his thinking was formed by his experiences in the Second World War and related a story about someone he met who, shortly after the war, had observed that wouldn't it be great if everyone could work together in the same way they did in the war. It really explained his attachment to the idea of socialism...

Whilst sounding experienced and interesting he also seemed terribly naive. His whole life seems to have been attached to a failed ideal - a futile experiment. Yet still he persists with it..

He was still advocating Nationalisation and didn't seem to accept that evidence has proved that nationalised industries consistently fail to operate inefficiently. He seemed to totally ignore the profit motive as a way to galvanise people in the absence of a survival motive. 

It was sad really. 

But, the thing that was impressive was his commitment to democracy. He predicted a surge in democratic activity - or perhaps it was simply wishful thinking. His talking was peppered with comments about democracy. He said how vital it was that we have the opportunity to throw out a government with a vote rather than a gun.

He clearly thinks the whole Europe thing is a disaster and will end in disaster.

An interesting but slightly farcical evening as he was unable to hear the questions so responded to a precis of the questions provided by his assistant.

Interesting guy, amazing life. Hope I learn more from experience than he has.


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