Sunday, February 22, 2015

Remembering Tony Benn (1925–2014)

The Old Labour politician Tony Benn (1925–2014) passed away last year, and the documentary below – which has its share of criticisms – is still a nice tribute to his life.

Tony Benn had a peculiar relationship to Keynesianism, however, though he did have amongst his advisers Francis Cripps, a heterodox Keynesian connected with Wynne Godley and the broader Post Keynesian tradition.

In the years after James Callaghan abandoned traditional post-WWII Keynesianism in 1976 with a rather shameless lie debunked here, Tony Benn pushed forward with a far more radical vision of socialist economics, including a plan for bank nationalisation and an activist industrial policy.

Callaghan, as one of the worst UK Labour leaders of the post-WWII era, had already taken Britain down the path of a pre-Thatcherite monetarism before Thatcher came into office, and Tony Benn had an alternative to that, but the Labour party leadership shunned it.

It is also often forgotten how hostile the press and Conservatives were to Benn by the 1970s, particularly by time of his opposition to Britain’s joining the European Common Market.

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