10 of the best Tony Benn quotes

14th March, 2014 8:32 am

Tony Benn, who has passed away today aged 88, was a giant of the Labour Party and the wider Labour movement. He was also one of the most quoted and quotable politicians of his time. Here are ten of the best Tony Benn quotes – and you can add your own favourites in the comments below:

  • “We are not just here to manage capitalism but to change society and to define its finer values.”
  • Normally, people give up parliament because they want to do more business or spend more time with family. My wife said ‘why don’t you say you’re giving up to devote more time to politics?’. And it is what I have done.
  • If one meets a powerful person ask them five questions: “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?” If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system.
  • “The Labour party has never been a socialist party, although there have always been socialists in it – a bit like Christians in the Church of England.”
  • This idea that politics is all about charisma and spin is rubbish. It is trust that matters”
  • The House of Lords is the British Outer Mongolia for retired politicians.
  • All war represents a failure of diplomacy.
  • If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people.
  • It’s the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.
  • I’m not frightened about death. I don’t know why, but I just feel that at a certain moment your switch is switched off, and that’s it. And you can’t do anything about it.


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  • Jane Trobridge

    “It is wholly wrong to blame Marx for what was done in his name, as it is to blame Jesus for what was done in his”

    The world is a better place for having known him. It would be even better if his words has been heeded. RIP Tony.

  • Louise Dickinson

    One of a dying breed, Tony Benn was a man with integrity … Should have been our Prime Minster

  • Ian Wright

    There were two brilliant ones which you missed. One was on the BBC earlier today which said something along the lines of now politicians try to get people to fit into society, whereas we should be trying to change society. The other was on C4 news which was to the Labour conference in the early 80’s, which said something along the lines of Labour had tried to change capitalism but failed and this was because you could not change a system which relied on inequality. Both took my breath away in their brilliance.

    He was a remarkable man who was able to gain respect of people across political boundaries. A total inspiration to me and to many of us.

  • Bertrude

    inheritance tax what’sh that ?


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