Free at Last! : Diaries, 1991-2001, Paperback

Free at Last! : Diaries, 1991-2001 Paperback

2.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Tony Benn is the longest serving MP in the history of the Labour Party.

He left Parliament in 2001, after more than half a century in the House of Commons, to devote more time to politics.

This volume of his Diaries describes and comments, in a refreshing and honest way, upon the events of a momentous decade including two world wars, a change of government in Britain and the emergence of New Labour, of which he makes clear he is not a member.

Tony Benn's account is a well documented, formidable and principled critique of the New Labour Project, full of drama, opinion, humour, anecdotes and sparkling pen-portraits of politicians on both sides of the political divide.

But his narrative is also broader and more revealing about day-to-day political life, covering many aspects normally disregarded by historians and lobby correspondents, relating to his work in the constituency, including his advice surgeries.

This volume also offers far more of an insight into Tony Benn's personal life, his thoughts about the future and his relationship with his family, especially his remarkable wife Caroline, whose illness and death overshadow these years. Tony Benn is a unique figure on the British political landscape: a true democrat, a passionate socialist and diarist without equal.

With this volume, his published Diaries cover British politics for over sixty years.

It is edited, as are all others, by Ruth Winstone.




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One should be very careful about releasing one's diaries into the public arena. These entries have been selected and edited which, of course, might have had a profound affect upon the way they read but, Tony Benn does not come out of this book well.No one in their right mind would expect the two Tonys (Benn and Blair) to be bosom buddies, but I had hoped for something rather better than the petty spite which seems to represent Benn's attitude to Blair and the current Labour Party. Benn accepts any tittle tattle that denigrates Labour; even to the extent of sidling up to Ted Heath and Mrs Thatcher. Tony Benn does not even come out of his meeting with his working class brotherhood well. He appears to like the idea of the working man but not the reality. He longs for those halcyon days when men came up from t'pit and discussed politics in an intellectual fashion. Tony, I've got some bad news for you: it didn't exist. The only area in which Benn shows a true working man's attitude is towards his wife. He obviously loved Caroline, indeed, the only heartfelt emotion spills out when he writes about her death - and yes, I admit that the raw intensity made me cry as I read it. During her illness, however, we keep getting these statements of intent, to reduce political work and support Caroline. Two days on, the initial panic is over and it is back to normal.Sorry Tony, I am not an expert, but this book of entries is that of an embittered politician who cannot accept that time has moved on.