The video of Labour legend Tony Benn that captures the spirit we all need to have right now

Tony Benn
Peter Bolton

There’s one hard-hitting speech from left-wing Labour legend Tony Benn that we all need to rewatch right now. Because it captures the spirit that we so badly need, both today and every day from here on out.

The struggle continues

Benn gave the speech years after leaving parliament. And making an impassioned case for the need to keep up the fight for social protections and access to public services at all times, he stressed that:

every single generation has to fight the same battles again and again and again. There’s no final victory. And there’s no final defeat.

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He also pointed out that amongst these battles is the need to confront concentrated wealth, adding:

The truth is that this country and world have been run by rich and powerful men from the beginning of time.

Speaking about the transformative 1945 Labour Party manifesto, he said:

If you look at our manifesto [of 1945], it was very clear. It said the interwar [economic] slumps were not acts of god or a result of strange forces. It was the direct result of too much economic power in the hands of too few men who behaved like a totalitarian oligarchy in the heart of our democratic state. They had and they felt no responsibility to the nation.

He also pointed out that, in spite of the UK being bankrupted by the Second World War, the Labour government of Clement Attlee nonetheless went on to establish the NHS and the beginnings of the welfare state.

Keep these two flames burning in your heart

He ended his speech with a call to keep two important flames burning in our hearts:

It is very important to keep optimism… I think progress has been made by two flames that have always been burning in the human heart: the flame of anger against injustice, and the flame of hope you can build a better world.

Benn was a member of parliament for Bristol Southwest between 1950 and 1983, and then for Chesterfield between 1984 and 2001. He also served as a minister in the governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan. After retiring from parliament, he served as president of the Stop the War Coalition from 2001 until his death in 2014. He was also a longstanding mentor to current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. And under Corbyn, Labour once again has a transformative manifesto like Attlee’s in 1945. It once again offers hope of a better, fairer future.

The flames of “anger against injustice” and “hope you can build a better world” should not only inspire us this election day. They should also continue to drive us forwards, whatever the result may be.

Featured image via YouTube

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    1. Well I have Hope. Hope that Boris Johnson and Jo Swinson both lose their seats, and Laura Kuenssberg gets what she so richly deserves from the Electoral Commission. What a Friday the 13th celebration that would be.

    2. Well there you have it Canary Corbyistas.

      Your legacy of driving out moderate centre left politics. You claimed centre left was Tory scum. Should have been careful what you wished for.
      You are about to discover what Tory scum really means you tw@ts.

      1. Try Brexit. Labour lost it’s base support by pushing a 2nd ref instead of soft Brexit (2017 policy). Good or bad idea, 2nd ref was forced on Corbyn by the right. That is the main cause.

        Plus the media smears and Tory narratives. Plus red Tories (MPs, staff, and media pundits) who trashed Corbyn led Labour from the start, making Labour appear weak and incoherent.

    3. The truth hurts. Largest party in the country. The mass movement. What a joke. Momentum and Corbyn has been a dream come true for Johnson.

      5 years of hard right government. Well done. And if I hear one more Corbynite saying “how popular their policies were on the doorstep” I will throw up. How can you be so deluded.

      You have destroyed the only progressive political party in the country and inflicted misery on the millions you claim to be concerned about.

    4. Good plan. Let’s continue with the failed rejected approach and see if we can get down to 100 seats in 2024. Guarantee at least a generation of hard right Tory rule.

      Deluded. Are you paid by the Conservative party to spout this diarrhoea?

      I’ve never bought the Sun in my life for very personal reasons.

    5. I said at the time Corbyn won the second leadership challenge they forced on him that he should split from the Labour Party and take his supporters with him and form a new leftist party. Three years and many millions of pounds in subscriptions wasted.

      Blairites inside the party wanted their anti-democratic result so bad it not only cost them the election it cost them their anti-democratic result as well, though many prefer being in neo-liberalist opposition to being in socialist government. I voted for Brexit and Corbyn but too many people just weren’t having it.

    6. So all the blaming, all the shaming, and all the grandstanding are pointless and futile. We have what we have, and we will all pay for it regardless.

      Those who are happy with the results will likely be deeply unhappy about the results they will actually get, because all you have voted for is the division of our nation, the sale of the NHS (which when it is fully privatised you will regret utterly too late), a guarantee of systemic racism, and the de-facto ownership of the UK by Washington, with everything that entails.

      You will no doubt completely divest yourselves of responsibility for the state that you have voted our nation into, and blame everyone else other than yourselves for its destruction and worsening conditions (I hear Russia is everyone’s go to scape-goat these days), for you have voted for the very worst attributes of humanity, and the very worst of unsustainable practices which will add greatly to our collective misery.

      If your friends and family die or suffer greatly because of what will now happen to the UK, and you voted for Tory Rule (if you want to know what, just look at what has happened to America already … the same will happen here), don’t blame anyone for it other than yourselves.

      You haven’t voted for unity, you have voted for division, you haven’t voted for peace, you have voted for more war, you haven’t voted for an NHS free at point of use, you have voted for the American system of ‘healthcare’, you haven’t voted for societal inclusion, you have voted for societal degradation, you haven’t voted for Law being accessible to all, you have voted for Law being the province of the wealthy, you haven’t voted to turn back the tide on climate change, you have voted to accelerate it, you haven’t voted for gender equality, you have voted to undo all the gains made, you haven’t voted for better education, you have voted for the American Education System (dumbed-down), you haven’t voted for Democracy, you have voted for Autocracy, you haven’t voted for the environment, you have voted against it, you haven’t voted for human rights, you have voted for the exclusion of it, you haven’t voted for Law, you have voted for the lawlessness that protect criminals and criminal enterprise, you have not voted for Life, you have voted for everything that is an anathema to Life … literally.

      This is the worst day in British History, not because of Boris, not because of Corbyn, not because of Swinson, but because so many blind fools think the unsustainable is sustainable, and that murder, theft, and torture are the morally right tools to achieve what one wants (even if what one wants comes at the expense of ALL Life). It is also the worst day in British history because much of what Boris will do will be irreversible, excepting a major revolution, which we will no longer have the time as a species to care about, or carry out anyway (Less than ten years to go).

      Today Britain has signalled its desire to be American through-and-through.

      Today Britain has declared it prefers lies over truth, suffering over happiness, sickness over health, war over peace, broken roads over smooth roads, and a barely functioning, late, and overpriced infrastructure, over a well organised, efficient, and cost-effective one.

      Our country has been lost to the ignorant, the uncaring, the greedy, the hate/war-mongers, the boastful, those who enjoy seeing others suffer, and generally those who hate the effort it takes to sort fact from fiction, even if it means they and many others will suffer more for it.

      Congratulations to all of you who are happy with the Election results, enjoy the aftermath of your ideologically-and-morally-corrupt choices, and when the shit gets too much for even you to ignore and bear, remember what you did to help create it, and remember that it was your ignorance, your ‘precious’ ego, and your mental laziness which caused it.

      The rest of us need to think seriously about the fact that having separate political parties is just an extension of tribalism. What we need for Democracy to work in this country is zero political parties, just positions in government that we ‘The People’ are responsible for filling by electing suitable individuals to those positions.

      Political Parties divide the Country into competing camps of ever-changing power and policies. Many vote not for scientifically and morally proven policies, but on the basis that they’ve always been or voted ‘Labour’, or ‘Conservative, or ‘Lib Dems’, or ‘Green’.

      Political Parties are nothing more than ideologically driven tribes, and end up working against democratic principles because they cause division by their very existence, this is one of the reasons they are allowed to exist at all, to create the illusion of Democracy.

      We are often told that our Democracy is not perfect, and that it has flaws, and that we are working towards improving and fixing it. This is partly true. Our Democracy is not perfect, and many do try to improve it, but in order to fix something, or make it better than it was, it is essential to know all about that which we are trying to fix, BEFORE attempting to fix it.

      Firstly, and most importantly, Democracy is Rulership BY The People, FOR The People. Not Rulership BY The Few, OVER The Many, nor is it Rulership BY One, OVER The Many.
      Secondly, No Rulership can work if it is divided against itself, that will always fail, it is not an opinion, that is FACT, historically proven.

      Our (so-called) Democracy is in great need of overhaul. It isn’t allowed to progress or evolve into a better form because our oligarchical rulers do NOT want it to, they love the broken version FAR more than the workable one, as the workable one destroys their gluttonous grasp of power. This is also why we have political Parties, instead of us voting in individuals who have the right stuff for the various jobs in Government directly.

      Imagine a system where instead of voting for candidates of this or that party, we voted for this person, or that person because they were the absolute best candidate (in the whole Nation) for that position. That candidate would, like applying for any job, have to show why they were a suited for the posting, but unlike today, any and all policies would be subjected to scientific, and moral investigation. So for example, The Labour party’s manifesto was fully costed and declared to be workable, yet still some people prefer to accept the Tory’s uncosted, unworkable economics just because Johnson said so.

      Under the system I propose, Johnson/Swinson and others would have been disqualified as a candidate simply for not producing pre-approved and peer-reviewed plans. Under the system I propose, no candidate would get away with lying to the electorate, because all facts would be thoroughly checked before an election, and any attempts to lie to the electorate would result in immediate termination of their candidacy for life, even jailing for life in some circumstances.

      We need better than the constant shit passed off as democracy that we get, even if we have to take it to make it ourselves. The results of this election say something very profound about the mental health of the people of this Country, and if any of us turned up at the Doctor’s displaying the attitudes we have all seen displayed during the last few years, we would have already have been forcibly rehoused into a nice ‘n cosy padded room, and made to wear some funky clothes whose fastenings were all out of reach.

    7. Corbyn will be the toast of Downing Street. A dream come true. All his Xmases come at one for Johnson.

      He will be dreaming that there is no attempt to re-engage with centre ground.

      1. You probably need to slow down and think a bit more carefully before you write anything else. You come on here calling us all tw@ts and then complain about lack of engagement! Don’t forget it was the centrist MPs who refused to work with Jeremy Corbyn, not the other way round. The shocking lack of discipline shown by those on the right is what cost us this election. If you rubbish your own brand, don’t be surprised if nobody wants to buy it – as Gerald Ratner so famously found to his cost.
        I have a serious question for you: when did the labour party lose Scotland and who was to blame?

    8. The levels of delusion are breathtaking. Corbyn had a legion of student backers plus his bully boy mates like mccluskey and very few others were true believers. Any dissenting voices were sent to the gulag and then you expect us to vote for your toxic politics come Election Day. Traditional labour voters deserted the party in their millions. Nothing to do with MSM etc.
      Own it. Worst result since 1935. Your legacy. Take responsibility.

      1. Shakehands, I see you didn’t answer my question – wonder why.
        Here it is again:
        I have a serious question for you: when did the labour party lose Scotland and who was to blame?

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