Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://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:

triangleDarkest Hour: Not the usual flattery of brutal Tory Churchill

triangleTrump as Nixon: urgent questions about press freedom and the state

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleFilm - Dennis Skinner: Nature of the Beast

Labour:

triangleSave Salford nurseries!

triangleLabour councillors push through savage cuts in Kirklees budget

triangleBlairite mayor faces open election after democratic 'irregularities' - fight for a no-cuts mayor

Labour Party:

triangleNo fudge with the right wing

triangleCarlisle debate - socialism or social democracy?

Militant:

triangleThe Socialist Party is being evicted - we need you!

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

21/2/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

14/2/18

Homeless

In Windsor none of us want to see homeless people on the street

14/2/18

Pay

I'm now a 'manager' and I can barely manage!

7/2/18

Socialist

The Socialist inbox

7/2/18

Cinema

Darkest Hour: Not the usual flattery of brutal Tory Churchill

7/2/18

Revolution

Bernie's book shows need for workers' party

7/2/18

Students

GCSE grading game stresses out students - even more than before!

7/2/18

NHS

Tragic death exposes criminal understaffing of NHS

7/2/18

Sexism

Fighting sexism: Positive discrimination - yea or neigh?

31/1/18

Cricket

Capitalism v cricket

31/1/18

Film

Trump as Nixon: urgent questions about press freedom and the state

31/1/18

Sexism

Presidents Club sexism scandal: what you thought

24/1/18

Carillion

Carillion crisis exposes PFI chaos

24/1/18

Universal Credit

Universal credit: set up to fail

24/1/18

The Socialist

The Socialist inbox

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999