We had quite a spectacle this week. We saw the incongruous sight of one Stephen Benn laying claim to the title of Viscount Stansgate. Labour’s latest viscount.
Stephen you see is the eldest son of popular old fauxcialist Tony Benn who famously renounced the title to allow him fifty years with his snout in the House of Commons gravy train.
Although he renounced it the title is still inherited. Officials at the House of Lords said that Stephen Benn had only to formally reclaim the title to officially become the 3rd Viscount of Stansgate. Proceedings from the House of Lords on Monday record: “The Lord Chancellor reported that Stephen Michael Wedgwood Benn had established his claim to the Viscount of Stansgate in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. “The Clerk of the Parliaments was accordingly directed to enter Viscount Stansgate on the register of hereditary peers maintained under Standing Order 10(5).”
Why should we be interested? Well Stevie baby is the son of Anthony Wedgewood Benn who himself was born the son of William Wedgewood Benn, a Liberal politician, who jumped ship to Labour and who, after a career as Secretary of State for India, and Secretary of State for Air, was created Viscount Stansgate 1942. William was the second son of Sir John Benn 1st Baronet, of “The Old Knoll” himself an MP for Devonport in the early twentieth century. His other grandfather Daniel Holmes was also an MP.
Tony was a solid built in with the bricks third generation politician and left wing oligarch.
Anthony Wedgewood Benn inherited the title of Viscount Stansgate but was able to discard it in 1963, and thereafter spent ages wondering if he should be called Anthony Wedgewood Benn, Wedgy Benn, Tony Benn or whatever. But what was not so clear was that our noble Tribune of the people had not renounced the title forever. Bet you never noticed that slight of oligarchical hand. What, cast it off for ever, a feudal bauble an irrelevance to be thrown into the dustbin of history? Dear me no, no, no, no, wherever did you get that idea? He just popped it in a box under the bed for later. The title still exists and is taken by….? Well, by Tony Benn’s eldest son of course the said Stephen Benn now 3rd Viscount Stansgate. Stephen, a well upholstered chiel of 63 who is currently Director of Parliamentary Affairs at the Society of Biology. So perhaps we might not be too surprised to learn that this new Viscount is seeking to be elevated as a hereditary into the House of Lords on the death of a labour peer.
Just what modern Britain needs as it struggles for its place in the world, – another sodding Viscount. Stevie fancies being elected to this house, not by thee or me, but by a cabal of Lords. Four existing Labour hereditary peers – Lord Rea, Lord Grantchester, Viscount Simon and Viscount Hanworth – all want to see Stephen, 62, currently Director of Parliamentary Affairs at the Society of Biology, join them as hereditary Labour peers on the benches. Yep you read that right Labour and hereditary and peer. Feeling sick?
But Tony Benn’s family ambitions don’t stop with Stephen. Stephen’s wife Nita was an advisor to Tony (I’m a war criminal) Blair. Stephen’s daughter Emily (generation six) is seeking to stand for Parliament too. No success yet but she has ability, is pushy and attractive so we can bet on her in the future.
Tony’s son Hilary (American readers note, this is a boy’s name in Britain) is also an MP and has been since 1999 (fourth generation please, a former Cabinet Minister and presently Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government).
The British left is as knee deep in oligarchy and privilege as anything we see in America or indeed the Conservative party.
Take (oh please take) Lord Mandelson former MP, former European Commissioner for Trade, he on whom Peytr Bayliss of Game of Thrones is based, the grandson of Herbert Morrison the depute Prime Minister during the Second World War.
Then we see that Tony (I am a War Criminal) Blair, is punting his son Euan for a seat in Parliament. Bootle in England’s north-west is the single safest seat in the country. So not taking any risks then are you Euan? No chance of a real fight on your turf?
One time Depute Prime Minister, Fatty “Two Jags” Prescott has supported his son David Prescott – unknown elsewhere – to be shoved through the ranks to claim a seat at Woolwich and Greenwich. Seriously, would anyone ever have heard of this candidate if his father had not been Depute PM? Of course not, he has simple shoved aside a better, more meritocratic candidate for family ambition.
Squinty Shaw (think of an evil Milhouse) the oily, slimy, oleaginous, appallingly legalistic lawyer and apologist for Blair, has punted his son Will (who was cautioned for selling cannabis in a pub) for the seat of Rossendale and Darwen come 2015. Bets whether he wins?
Alistair Darling, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had been tasked with keeping Scotland in the Union in the referendum in September. His great-uncle, Sir William Darling, was Conservative MP for Edinburgh South for 12 years after the Second World War, a fact I doubt he needed to put on his selection CV.
Lisa Nandy, is a labour politician and her grandfather as Liberal MP Frank Byers MP for North Dorset 1945 – 50.
Neil Kinnock, a past leader of the Labour Party, has supported his son Stephen about whom I wrote previously here where his wife the Prime Minister of Denmark was cuddling up to Obama at Mandela’s funeral, taking selfies. He too is being touted for the nice safe seat at Aberavon.
Joe Dromey, younger son of Harriet Harman MP and Jack Dromey (Unionist and one-time Treasurer of the Labour Party) is also devoting a lot of time to work in another safe Labour seat of Lewisham Deptford, where the sitting MP, Joan Ruddock, will be 71 come the election. Oh yuck, I just realised Jack and Harriet have copulated ? Eaaagh! That’s disgusting.
Disgusting yes, but not as disgusting as these horrid little sprogs being given complete gifts of seats to guarantee their entry into politics. By being eased in, they deny the party, the cause, and the country the opportunity to see other possibly more suited candidates because they (as in America) are pushed out and the needs of the oligarchy are satisfied first.
In Britain, one in twelve politicians from both sides of the House of Commons come from established political families.
As Elizabeth Truss says “It’s not just about public school boys or girls, it’s actually about people coming from the same family, people who have always been involved in politics being involved in politics. I think it’s about broadening it out beyond the usual suspects. If you look at the Labour team we’ve got a husband and wife in the top team, we’ve got brothers in the Labour party as well. What we want to do is enable everybody to aspire to be part of the political system.”
Yvette Cooper and her hubby Ed Balls sit together in Parliament, as do Clare Short and Alex Lyon.
Naturally, it’s not just the Labour left that engage in these practices, but it just sticks in the throat when they do. We are disappointed, we feel let down, we are revolted that the pigs are taking over the farm.
Copyright David Macadam 2014