10 of the best Tony Benn quotes

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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