Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A collection of quotes and thoughts by Tony Benn on peace, terrorism, war, politics, photography, socialism, anti-smoking, labourism and treachery.

93 Thought-Provoking Quotes By Tony Benn Which Will Enlighten You About Politics

Quick Facts

Famous As: Former British Politician

Born On: April 3, 1925

Died On: March 14, 2014

Born In: Marylebone

Died At Age: 88

Tony Benn was a renowned British politician who served as a Member of Parliament for a period of forty-seven years. He was born to a Viscount who although gave him a luxurious childhood but contradicted his socialist ideologies. He started his political career by winning the parliament seat from South Gloucestershire at an early age of 26 to become the youngest Member of Parliament. His seat came at a stake after his father died as he had to inherit his seat in the House of Lords. He successfully campaigned against the law and returned to the Commons after winning a by-election. There he eventually became the Secretary of State for Industry. He used his experience to empower the influence of Industry and IMF over British politics. This had a huge impact in checking the power of the MP’s, while he professed his concept of enhancing the power of workers in the management of firms. Apart from this he has also led various anti-war movements including Gulf Wars and Kosovo War. After his retirement he was significantly involved in politics as a political activist. Here is a collection of sayings and quotations by the famous politician which have been scanned from the vast sea of his work. Read the following thoughts and quotes by Tony Benn that will enlighten you about politics.
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There is no moral difference between a Stealth bomber and a suicide bomber. They both kill innocent people for political reasons.

Tony Benn

Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment; photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure.

Tony Benn

Britain today is suffering from galloping obsolescence.

Tony Benn

Making mistakes is part of life. The only things I would feel ashamed of would be if I had said things I hadn't believed in order to get on. Some politicians do do that.

Tony Benn

My filing system is messy but orderly.

Tony Benn

At the end of my life, I was told to vote for it for pensioners; I' m not in favour of means tests for pensioners or anybody.

Tony Benn

All war represents a failure of diplomacy.

Tony Benn

I am on the right wing of the middle of the road and with a strong radical bias.

Tony Benn

It's the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you're mad, then dangerous, then there's a pause and then you can't find anyone who disagrees with you.

Tony Benn

Broadcasting is really too important to be left to the broadcasters.

Tony Benn

Normally, people give up parliament because they want to do more business or spend more time with family. My wife said 'why don't you say you're giving up to devote more time to politics?'. And it is what I have done.

Tony Benn

A faith is something you die for, a doctrine is something you kill for. There is all the difference in the world.

Tony Benn

We are not just here to manage capitalism but to change society and to define its finer values.

Tony Benn

The House of Lords is the British Outer Mongolia for retired politicians.

Tony Benn

If you file your waste-paper basket for fifty years, you have a public library.

Tony Benn

My day rotates around my family. I am very lucky.

Tony Benn

I can't go to bed if I haven't done my diary. I always record them just as I've always recorded all my interviews and speeches.

Tony Benn

Someone comes every morning at nine o'clock to see if I am still alive. I do get lonely, yes, but I have the children who come and see me. I see all my children every week, and there are the grandchildren, too.

Tony Benn

I'm not frightened about death. I don't know why, but I just feel that at a certain moment your switch is switched off, and that's it. And you can't do anything about it.

Tony Benn

Age does take it out of you, and I haven't the energy I had before. Sometimes I have breakfast and sit in this chair, and I wake up and it is lunchtime. In the past, the idea of sleeping through a morning would have horrified me, but you have to accept the limitations that old age imposes on you.

Tony Benn

The exhaustion of old age is something people who are younger don't fully appreciate.

Tony Benn

I think there are two ways in which people are controlled. First of all frighten people and secondly, demoralise them.

Tony Benn

The uncut diaries are 16 million words. It's very tiring to do your diary every night before you go to bed.

Tony Benn

I've had a very full life, and I've enjoyed it very much. I've learned a great deal and feel indebted to all the people who have worked so hard.

Tony Benn

Five questions for politicians: 1. What power have you got? 2. Where did you get it from? 3. In whose interest do you exercise it? 4. To whom are you accountable? 5. How can we get rid of you?

Tony Benn

I see myself as an old man and an unqualified teacher to the nation. I think being a teacher is probably the most important thing you can be in politics.

Tony Benn

I've got four lovely children, ten lovely grandchildren, and I left parliament to devote more time to politics, and I think that what is really going on in Britain is a growing sense of alienation. People don't feel anyone listens to them.

Tony Benn

I've been a member of the Labour Party sixty five years, and I remain in it, but I think it's all about campaigning for justice and peace, and if you do that, you get a lot of support.

Tony Benn

I believe the more difficult the circumstances, the more people will be inclined to trust those in charge at the moment.

Tony Benn

If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people.

Tony Benn

I've made every mistake - but mistakes are how you learn.

Tony Benn

The Marxist analysis has got nothing to do with what happened in Stalin's Russia: it's like blaming Jesus Christ for the Inquisition in Spain.

Tony Benn

The nature of the economic system should be a matter for public choice, and free market capitalism should not be accepted without any discussion of the rich variety of alternatives ... Unlike civil laws, economic laws are imposed on people with all the authority of immutable laws of nature. But the economy is created by people, supported by government intervention, regulation, statute and subsidy, and implemented in such a way that it gives substantial wealth and power to a privileged few, while the majority face a life of relentless work, stress and periodic financial insecurity.

Tony Benn

You have to try to build support around causes. It is uniting to campaign on a single issue, and it is never just a single issue; it's always more than that.

Tony Benn

What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you

Tony Benn

If democracy is ever to be threatened, it will not be by revolutionary groups burning government offices and occupying the broadcasting and newspaper offices of the world. It will come from disenchantment, cynicism and despair caused by the realisation that the New World Order means we are all to be managed and not represented.

Tony Benn

There's people on the left who say, the ballot box is a waste of time. Forget them. When Mandela voted for the first time at the age of 76 there was a lot of grown men, including me, wept buckets. That was what it was about. It doesn't solve things, but it gives you the mechanism to hold to account the people with power.

Tony Benn

If democracy is destroyed in Britain it will be not the communists, Trotskyists or subversives but this House which threw it away. The rights that are entrusted to us are not for us to give away. Even if I agree with everything that is proposed, I cannot hand away powers lent to me for five years by the people of Chesterfield. I just could not do it. It would be theft of public rights.

Tony Benn

Making mistakes is how you learn.

Tony Benn

I'd rather die on my feet making a speech than die of Alzheimer's - and that's what I'm planning to do.

Tony Benn

When I think of Cool Britannia I think of old people dying of hypothermia.

Tony Benn

If I rescued a child from drowning, the press would no doubt headline the story: 'Benn grabs child

Tony Benn

If you want your debt lifted you've got to sell your school and your hospitals.

Tony Benn

An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern.

Tony Benn

My alternative to American superpower is the UN and I might add when China becomes the worlds greatest superpower you will need it too.

Tony Benn

When you think of the number of men in the world who hate each other, why, when two men love each other, does the church split?

Tony Benn

Middle class Labour leaders are recaptured by the establishment when they die.

Tony Benn

I really think in the Commonwealth of Europe you should have Russia. I listed a hundred countries that would be in it and it would then be a really European United Nations.

Tony Benn

The crisis that we inherit when we come to power will be the occasion for fundamental change and not the excuse for postponing it

Tony Benn

Through talk, we tamed kings, restrained tyrants, averted revolution

Tony Benn

Bush is actually encouraging the spread of nuclear weapons because the one thing I do know is if Iran did have nuclear weapons they wouldn't be threatening them.

Tony Benn

No medieval monarch in the whole of British history ever had such power as every modern British Prime Minister has in his or her hands. Nor does any American President have power approaching this

Tony Benn

I think if journalists were responsible for international policy we'd have a nuclear war every week.

Tony Benn

I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world….because if you have power you use it to meet the needs of you and your community.

Tony Benn

The peace movement here is the biggest thing in human history.

Tony Benn

I try to operate on two unconnected levels. One on the practical level of action in which I am extremely cautious and conservative. The second is the realm of ideas where I try to be very free

Tony Benn

I think very often the boat-rockers turn out to be the people who are building the craft

Tony Benn

Hope is the fuel of progress and fear is the prison in which you put yourself.

Tony Benn

I think to understand how the democratic process works is the most important thing, so people don't get frightened by it, and get put off, and give up.

Tony Benn

The one thing that is absolutely essential is that there shouldn't be any governmental control [of the media] directly or indirectly.

Tony Benn

It's lovely to be old. I've got age, experience and zero personal ambition. No body could corrupt me by anything: possibly a job in the government, a peerage, a quango, I don't want any of it.

Tony Benn

The Labour party has never been a socialist party, although there have always been socialists in it - a bit like Christians in the Church of England.

Tony Benn

We are paying a heavy political price for 20 years in which, as a party, we have played down our criticism of capitalism and soft-peddled our advocacy of socialism

Tony Benn

Encouragement is the most important thing in the world for young people, rather than league tables, which demoralise everyone.

Tony Benn

There may be a legal obligation to obey, but there will be no moral obligation to obey. When it comes to history, it will be the people who broke the law for freedom who will be remembered and honoured.

Tony Benn

The Tory party is the enemy of democracy.

Tony Benn

The way a government treats refugees is very instructive...

Tony Benn

The peace movement didn't stop the Iraq but I think that Blair would not be able to go along and support an Iranian war.

Tony Benn

There is no final victory, as there is no final defeat. There is just the same battle. To be fought, over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.

Tony Benn

I think if you're going to be committed to doing anything, you really have to care about it, and I suppose that is a romantic idea.

Tony Benn

People in debt become hopeless and hopeless people don’t vote. They always say that that everyone should vote but I think that if the poor in Britain or the United States turned out and voted for people that represented their interests there would be a real democratic revolution.

Tony Benn

When I saw how the European Union was developing, it was very obvious what they had in mind was not democratic. In Britain, you vote for a government so the government has to listen to you, and if you don't like it you can change it.

Tony Benn

I try not to make political arguments personal. It doesn't help and it switches a lot of people off. The real questions: Will we have peace? Will we have justice? Will we have pensions? Will we have free education? Will we have public services? .... those are the sort of things which interest me. I don't think that having a go at individuals really helps get your point across apart from anything else.

Tony Benn

The First World War created the Second World War because that was a war between three grandsons of Queen Victoria: The King of England, the Kaiser and the Tsar married Queen Victoria's granddaughter. And that triggered Communism in Russia and Fascism in Germany and led to the Second World War.

Tony Benn

I think democracy is not a destination. I don't think socialism is a railway station and if we catch the right train with the right driver, we'll get there. I think it's a way of thinking about things and every generation has to do it again.

Tony Benn

The Establishment decided Thatcher's ideas were safer with a strong Blair government than with a weak Major government. We are given all these personalities to choose between to disguise the fact that the policies are the same.

Tony Benn

After the war people said, 'If you can plan for war, why can't you plan for peace?' When I was 17, I had a letter from the government saying, 'Dear Mr. Benn, will you turn up when you're 17 1/2? We'll give you free food, free clothes, free training, free accommodation, and two shillings, ten pence a day to just kill Germans.' People said, well, if you can have full employment to kill people, why in God's name couldn't you have full employment and good schools, good hospitals, good houses?

Tony Benn

I think if you do have democracy it would transform the world because if the millions of people who die live on a dollar a day, had the vote, they would redistribute the wealth of the world, and the people at the top are not prepared to see that happen.

Tony Benn

Change always follows the same pattern. If you come up with something new they try and put you off.If that doesn't work they call you stark raving bonkers.If that doesn't work they lock you up like the suffragettes.Then, after a pause, the change happensand you can't find anyone that doesn't claim to have been fighting for it with you.

Tony Benn

I do not share the general view that market forces are the basis for political liberty. Every time I see a homeless person living in a cardboard box in London, I see that person as a victim of market forces. Everytime I see a pensioner who cannot manage, I know that he is a victim of market forces

Tony Benn

Well, it all began with Democracy. Before we had the vote all the power was in the hands of rich people. If you had money you could get health care, education, look after yourself when you were old, and what democracy did was to give the poor the vote and it moved power from the marketplace to the polling station, from the wallet...to the ballot.

Tony Benn

I don't believe in the hereditary principle in the House of Lords. Imagine going to the dentist, sitting in the chair and he says, 'I'm not a dentist myself, but my father was a dentist and his father before him. Now, open wide!

Tony Benn

It is not surprising that more and more people are coming to the conclusion that the ballot box is no longer an instrument that will secure political solutions... They can see that the parliamentary democracy we boast of is becoming a sham.

Tony Benn

I'm interested in language. We used to call it the War Office. Then it became the Ministry of Defence. We used to talk about the hydrogen bomb, now we talk about a deterrent. And the language is very cleverly constructed to give the impression that it's not what it is.

Tony Benn

Christians believe that God created man, and humanists believe that man invented God. But whichever way you look at it, we're brothers and sisters. Either we're brothers and sisters because we're children of God, or because we've banded together to invent God. So the ethics of the humanist and the ethics of some Christians are very similar. And we don't want to create divisions between humanists and Liberation Theologians, any more than we want between the New Worker and the Trots. It's not helpful.

Tony Benn

If one meets a powerful person - Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin or Bill Gates - ask them five questions: 'What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?' If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system.

Tony Benn

The quickest way to get to the top in society probably is to be a Blair Babe now. And then all of a sudden you find you're invited to parties. I don't want to be cynical, because I'm not. But I've seen it happen to so many people who move from the left to the right so damn quickly.

Tony Benn

Change from below, the formulation of demands from the populace to end unacceptable injustice, supported by direct action, has played a far larger part in shaping British democracy than most constitutional lawyers, political commentators, historians or statesmen have ever cared to admit. Direct action in a democratic society is fundamentally an educational exercise.

Tony Benn

Parliamentary democracy is, in truth, little more than a means of securing a periodical change in the management team, which is then allowed to preside over a system that remains in essence intact. If the British people were ever to ask themselves what power they truly enjoyed under our political system they would be amazed to discover how little it is

Tony Benn

People would do well to ask themselves how many of their ambitions and aspirations derive from the type of economic system they inhabit and the insecurity and exhaustion it creates, and question the sense and purpose of a society where control of a large portion of life is abdicated under contract in the labour market, and where immense creativity and potential is stifled by the need to do difficult and repetitive tasks in order to earn a wage.

Tony Benn

I think the truth is that the Labour Party isn't believed any more because people suspect it will say anything to get votes. The rebuilding of some radical alternatives to Thatcherism - and by that I mean all-party Thatcherism - will require us to do some very difficult things

Tony Benn

We have been in recess since July, and during that time there have been a fuel crisis, a Danish no vote, the collapse of the Euro and a war in the middle east, but what is our business tomorrow? The Insolvency Bill [Lords]. It ought be called the Bankruptcy Bill [Commons], because we play no role.

Tony Benn

We used to have a War Office, but now we have a Ministry of Defence, nuclear bombs are now described as deterrents, innocent civilians killed in war are now described as collateral damage and military incompetence leading to US bombers killing British soldiers is cosily described as friendly fire. Those who are in favour of peace are described as mavericks and troublemakers, whereas the real militants are those who want the war.

Tony Benn