Hilary Benn: Leeds MP reflects on father's legacy

Hilary Benn.Hilary Benn.
Hilary Benn.
BEYOND the passionate zeal for socialism and far left politics, the late Tony Benn created a loving and supportive family environment which was cherished by his son.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post in a rare personal interview on the second anniversary of the Labour politician’s death, Hilary Benn MP told how his father and mother Caroline provided unconditional encouragement that has always helped him stand up for what he believes in.

People will make their comparisons [with my father] and people will say what they want to say and that’s for them and it’s not a matter for me. I would simply say my late mum and my late father taught us as children a lot of things, but they taught us to stand up for what you believe in and say what you think.”

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Comparisons between the Leeds MP and his father were made when Hilary Benn delivered a pivotal speech in favour of military action in Syria last year.

Alex Salmond sparked fury when he said Tony Benn would be ‘burling’ in his grave at his son’s speech.

However it also won the Leeds MP an unconventional standing ovation while Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond declared it as “one of the truly great speeches made in the House of Commons”.

For his own part, Hilary said he thought nothing more of his ‘Syria speech’ than the issue at hand, and that much of it was hand-written on the night and put together while sat on the shadow front bench. He said: “Well I made my speech and sat down, what other people did is down to them.”

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He said his father, who passed away aged 88 in 2014 after two spells in Government and 50 years as an MP, would have had “nothing but love and support” for him as he stood up to speak that night in December.