Saturday, 8 October 2011
Me and Tony Benn in Glasgow Again
I've been on wetter demonstrations, I assured SSP colleagues last Saturday. But actually I don't think I have.
The STUC march through Glasgow attracted 15,000 people, the organisers claimed, in protest at the cuts to public sector jobs and
services being carried out by the CON DEM Government. If it had been dry I'm
sure the turnout would have easily been double the size.
Given the atrocious weather the organisers rightly curtailed the long list
of advertised speakers. In the end Tony Benn was the only one. And
it's fair to say he was listened to avidly by the soaked assembly who hung
on his every word and would have happily listened to him for much longer.
I spoke to him briefly on stage and expressed my continuing admiration for him
and all he has one for our great movement.
I first met Tony 30 years ago as a young socialist when he was running
for the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party against Denis Healey. He was
speaking at a meeting in Glasgow University one Sunday morning and I travelled
in from Motherwell to hear him. He is one of the main reasons I got involved
in left wing political activity. I have kept in touch with him ever since.
Now in his late 80's and increasingly frail he remains one of my heroes.