Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/826/19290

From The Socialist newspaper, 24 September 2014

Film review

Tony Benn: Will and testament

Tony Benn

Tony Benn   (Click to enlarge)

Matt Kilsby reviews 'Tony Benn: Will and Testament'

This is a personal and, at times, moving portrayal of a major figure on Labour's left. It is a series of interviews in the later period of Tony Benn's life, interspersed with films from his own archive and of contemporary film and TV footage. The story is told in Benn's own words.

Benn's political career disproved the cynical dictum that the older you get, the more right wing you become. In the 1960s, Benn had to fight for his right to refuse a seat in the Lords - which he inherited on his father's death - to remain as an MP in the House of Commons.

On the centre-right in Harold Wilson's Labour government of 1964-70, Benn shifted to the left under the influence of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders occupation, which is detailed in the film.

Campaigner for democracy

Throughout the 1970s, with Benn as a major influence, the left kept advancing in both the Labour Party and the trades unions. Benn was a campaigner for democracy in the Labour Party, which is why he was a firm critic of former Labour leader Neil Kinnock and the right-wing's later witch-hunting and victimisation of Militant.

Benn approved the film's final cut but unfortunately, except for the miners' strike, it barely mentions the 1980s titanic workers' struggles. We hear little of his fight to become Labour Party leader in 1976 or coming within 1% of winning the deputy leader race in 1981. The rise of Militant, with three MPs elected, and the victory of the socialist councillors in Liverpool between 1983 and 1987 is overlooked as if he wanted to draw a veil over these hugely important events.

The film also fails to explain how the right-wing offensive within Labour led to the victory of Thatcher's Tory Party in the 1983 general election.

Benn remained loyal to the Labour Party until he died. In the film he makes clear that Labour is no longer socialist or representative of working class interests. If only Benn had thrown his weight behind the calls for a mass-workers' party to the left of Labour then Britain's left would be all the stronger today.

As a personal memoir of one of the most influential left wing figures in recent times, Will and Testament is worth watching. However, it is disappointingly lacking in political content and serious analysis.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 24 September 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

We need 10 an hour now!

Labour to continue austerity offensive

Climate change: Summit for nothing

Academies lead to nepotism and profit making

Them & Us


Scottish referendum

1.6 million vote Yes in revolt against austerity

After Scotland revolt: all capitalist parties in crisis

Scotland Poll: Electric mood among YES supporters


International socialist news and analysis

Millions on streets for Catalan independence

Sweden: Conservatives collapse, extreme-right gains


Socialist Party workplace news

United strike action can win

NHS workers vote to strike

College lecturers join 14 October strike

Care UK: 'We'll fight them all the way'

Croydon leisure centre strike for decent wages

West Midlands fire engine cuts

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Tenants threatened by 'feudal lord'

Global day of eco action

Round up: Socialist Students at the freshers fairs


Socialist Party comments and reviews

The struggle for decent social care - a personal account

Tony Benn: Will and testament

Obvious Child

Skylight

Front row fury


 

Home   |   The Socialist 24 September 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Tony Benn:

triangleLambeth Socialist Party open meeting

triangleThe Labour Party, Militant and 'infiltration'

triangleRMT turns out in strength for May Day march

triangleMay Day: Remembering Bob Crow and Tony Benn

triangleMourn the loss, fight for the future

Film:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleFilm - Dennis Skinner: Nature of the Beast

triangleWell-deserved ridicule of Stalinism is impressive, funny but flawed

triangleOctober 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

Labour:

triangleArriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

triangleBlairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

triangleThe Socialist's 2017 quiz

Labour Party:

triangleTotnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangleLabour 'purge' furore really just democracy

Militant:

triangleBirmingham Central Socialist Party: The rise of Militant - lessons from our history

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

13/12/17

The Socialist

The Socialist's 2017 quiz

6/12/17

Fire

The Socialist Inbox

6/12/17

Surrey

Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane

6/12/17

Labour Party

Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

30/11/17

Theatre

Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

22/11/17

Working class

Left comic's take on politics will have you in tears

22/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

15/11/17

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

15/11/17

Abortion

TV review: Abortion on Trial - hard-hitting look at impact of 1967 act

15/11/17

Vietnam war

Comprehensive account of bloody conflict

8/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

8/11/17

Obituary

Obituary: Paul Randall, 1959-2017

8/11/17

Theatre

Welsh update of Chekhov an engrossing tale of 1980s class conflict

1/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

25/10/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle16 Dec Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

triangle16 Dec Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2