Posts Tagged ‘Princess Diana’

Please, let’s remember Tony Benn and Bob Crow for who they were, not bland Diana-fied national treasures

14/03/2014, 10:32:06 AM

by Atul Hatwal

To hear tributes to Tony Benn this morning and Bob Crow earlier in the week, is to enter an alternate reality, one of saccharine reflection and anodyne dolour.

In the myriad of CGI memories that are being publicly broadcast, the defining characteristic that made Tony Benn and Bob Crow national figures is all too often omitted: threat.

There are lots of committed socialists who lead their lives, unflinching in their beliefs and whose passing is not remembered.

What made Tony Benn and Bob Crow different was that they attained positions where their proximity to power meant they threatened the status quo in their respective worlds.

Threat isn’t a bad thing. It’s the essential precursor of change and both reveled in their ability to threaten the established order. But it brings with it costs: confrontation, fear and anger.

To overlook the visceral conflict which both generated is to suck the vigour and colour out of their professional lives. Without at least acknowledging this threat, the commemorations lapse into the North Korean.

We remember Tony Benn and Bob Crow because they were men of consequence. For many that consequence was far from benign. In the case of Tony Benn in the early 1980s, it threatened the future existence of the Labour party.

Both men were comfortable with confronting opposition and crushing it under foot. They were there to fight and be fought.

To recall the passion, bitterness and division does not sully their memory. Quite the reverse. It is why they are remembered, because they mattered and people cared enough about what they were doing to get involved, either for or against them.

The Dianafication of the deaths of Tony Benn and Bob Crow is perhaps the least fitting tribute possible to the lives they led. They were not bland national treasures but powerful and threatening political figures.

Along-side the warmer words about their personal virtues, it’s worth remembering this. For people in the business of attaining and wielding power, such as Tony Benn and Bob Crow, to adapt a common refrain following Diana’s death, it’s what they would have wanted.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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