- Birth name:
- Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn
- Date of Birth:
- 3 April 1925 Westminster, London, England, UK
Tony Benn is the son, grandson and father of MPs, he retired from the House of Commons in May 2001, after fifty years in Parliament making him the longest serving Labour MP in the history of the party. His service in the House of Commons was not continuous: he lost his Bristol seat in 1983 and was re-elected for Chesterfield in 1984. More famously he was also excluded in the 1960s when his father died, and he became Viscount Stansgate. He was able to stand in the subsequent by-election but as a member of the House of Lords could not take his seat, and a court declared his opponent the winner. After three years campaigning for the right to renounce his peerage Benn saw the Peerage Act passed in 1963. He renounced his title within 20 minutes of the act being passed, and the sitting member resigned and Benn returned to the House of Commons in the subsequent by-election. He was a Cabinet minister in the Labour governments of 1964 - 69, and 1974. An elected member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour party from 1959 - 1994, he was Chairman of the Party in 1971/2. His published Diaries in seven volumes cover the period from 1942-1990, and the next volume 'Free at Last' from 1990 - 2002 was published on October 3rd 2002. He has also written seven other books, including 'Arguments for Socialism' many pamphlets, and several Videos and Audio tapes have also been published. The holder of seven honorary Doctorates from British and American universities, he has recently been appointed as a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and is a regular broadcaster. In 1949 he married author and educationalist Caroline Benn, who died in 2000, and they have four children, including the minister Hilary Benn, and ten grandchildren.