" I was sad to hear this morning of the death of Tony Benn, probably the best Prime Minister that Labour never had. Unlike Tony Blair who promoted 'New Labour' policies during his time in Office, throughout his entire life Tony Benn was concerned with 'True Labour' policies.
I heard him do one of his public one man talks once in Huddersfield, but only met the man a mere once when he kindly read from one of my books in a South Yorkshire Primary School. His sole condition required for his attendance was that I didn't inform the press and that no prior announcement was made, even to the Head teacher as to who their special guest reader would be. While the children didn't know the man, I will not forget his fatherly mannerisms when reading to them. I recall him getting no more than a few lines into the story before breaking off to inform the children of one of his own experiences;very much as he used to do in his one man talks to large audiences around the country.
Let me say from the start, that from all the politicians I ever met or had dealings with, he was the one I most respected. Indeed; it was the man I respected, much more than the politician. While twice holding Cabinet Office under Harold Wilson and then James Callighan and serving as an Member of Parliament for over fifty years in itself spoke volumes, he always remained 'true to himself and his beliefs.'
There was no fiddling of expenses for him as he conducted his mode of transport as plainly as he conducted his own life and would always use the train and other public transport means to travel. He was a conviction politician from cradle to the grave and the only one who I ever knew who gave up his hereditary title of Viscount at the beginning of his career in Parliament to serve his constituents instead of entering Parliament as a commoner with the distant aim of becoming a peer one day in the Upper House.
His most endearing quality however was that he was respected whatever political view one held. One didn't need to 'buy in' to his particular brand of left wing politics in order to 'buy in to the man himself'. Once met, he commanded your respect. God bless you and your family, Tony Benn." William Forde: March 14th, 2014.