Sunday, May 13, 2007

There's a First Time For Everything

The disclosure of Hilary Benn's ownership of a substantial stake in United Business Media is the second instance this year in which the International Development Secretary has been embarrassed by financial interests outside his political life. Three months ago Mr Benn was pressed into resigning as the director of a think-tank, Union 21, that had been given £20,000 of public money.

You can read the details of Hilary Benn's £230,000 shareholding in a company that has Government contracts in the Telegraph. It's this next bit that struck me.

The minister inherited the bulk of the holding from his grandmother. Sources close to Mr Benn say his stake was boosted by a gift from his father, the Left-wing former Labour MP and Cabinet minister, Tony Benn. Mr Benn senior was unavailable for comment last night.

That must surely be a record. Never in recorded history has Anthony Wedgewood Benn failed to give his opinion on any topic - at length - when asked.


Anonymous said...

Funny how it all comes out just now....what other secrets can Labour internal elections drag into the light of day ?

Anonymous said...

Well, when old Wedgie gave up his title he renounced NOTHING of his family wealth, which was considerable. His fortune was augnented by the money his rich heiress wife brought him.
Anyone remember the time a poor old tramp was discovered camping out in the Benn's garden shed? This goes back years: but I'm noT aware that Benn gave the old chap a handout or alleviated his distress at being forcibly moved on. I SHOULD LIKE TO BE PROVED WRONG ON THIS ONE!
I have a certain affection for old Benn - he seems to be a living link to the world of Walter Crane and William Morris, but we should note that Morris is now thought to have treate his craftsmen quite badly in many ways, and depended for HIS fortune not on honest and sweaty toil, but on the money left him by his industrialist fatherm who ran a pollution-rich concern...

Anonymous said...

And I truly thought the Wedgewood-Benns cared about us proles.

Anonymous said...

Hilary Benn, David Blunkett ... and we're just up to the Bs.

A Brummie said...

Oh to be a socialist

Anonymous said...

Foxy - when in history did rich socialists/stalinists/trots give a crap about the proles?

Bertrand Russell? The Mitfords and their heavily populated ilk? The Kennedys? Katherine Hepburn? John Kerry? Al Gore? Sting and those other mononyms?

Jesse Jackson? Al Sharpton? Ken Livingstone?

This is whence the term "champagne socialists".

Anonymous said...

NOTHING of his family wealth

Anonymous said...

In 1945 William Benn became Secretary of State for Air in Clement Attlee's Labour government, a position he held until October 1946

In July 1943, Anthony Benn joined the Royal Air Force.[5] His father and brother Michael (who was later killed in action) were already serving in the RAF in 1943. Whilst holding the rank of pilot officer, Tony Benn served as a pilot in South Africa and Rhodesia.[6]

Anonymous said...

Another thing about Benn is that he seems to be part of a governmental dynasty. Young Benn represents the third generation...I think it was Hilaire Belloc who pointed out in c. 1920 that there'd always been a member of the Marlborough/Churchill clan in Parliament since c. 1700. So much for the death of nepotism and hereditary power!
Belloc's little epigram "The General Election" makes the point well:

"The accursed power that stands on privilege,
And goes with women and champagne and bridge,
Broke! - and democracy resumed her reign,
(Which goes with bridge and women and champagne.)"