MP tribute to Labour ‘giant’

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Eastwood MP Gloria De Piero paid tribute to the late Tony Benn today calling him a ‘giant’ in the Labour movement.

A major figure on the left of the party, 88-year-old Mr Benn was a former cabinet minister and veteran left-wing campaigner. He narrowly missed out on the deputy leadership in 1981 and went on to be a popular public speaker, anti-war campaigner and political diarist.

Ms De Piero said: “Tony Benn was a giant of the Labour movement. He enriched our politics with his intelligence and ideas, his campaigning energy and, of course, his brilliant diaries. I don’t think there’s anyone in the Labour Party who hasn’t been moved or inspired in some way by him.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband described him as an ‘iconic figure of our age’.

Mr Benn served as an MP for more than 50 years, becoming secretary of state for industry in 1974 under Harold Wilson and going on to become secretary of state for energy, keeping his post when James Callaghan became PM in 1976.

But after the Labour government was ousted in 1979, he staged a bitterly divisive battle as the champion of the left with Denis Healey for the deputy leadership of the party.

He famously retired from Parliament in 2001 saying he wanted to ‘spend more time on politics’.

The former Labour MP had been seriously ill.