14 Mar 2014

British politician Tony Benn dies

9:19 pm on 14 March 2014

Veteran British Labour politician Tony Benn has died at the age of 88.

The left-wing politician was an MP for 50 years and a Cabinet minister under Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.

Tony Benn at a commemorative service for Nelson Mandela in London last year.

Tony Benn at a commemorative service for Nelson Mandela in London last year. Photo: AFP

Mr Benn narrowly missed out on the deputy leadership in 1981 and went on to be a popular public speaker, anti-war campaigner and political diarist.

In a statement his children Stephen, Hilary, Melissa and Joshua said Mr Benn died peacefully early on Friday morning at his home in west London surrounded by his family, the BBC reports.

"We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the NHS staff and carers who have looked after him with such kindness in hospital and at home", the family said.

"We will miss above all his love which has sustained us throughout our lives. But we are comforted by the memory of his long, full and inspiring life and so proud of his devotion to helping others as he sought to change the world for the better."

Labour leader Ed Miliband led the tributes to an "iconic figure of our age".

"He will be remembered as a champion of the powerless, a great parliamentarian and a conviction politician. Tony Benn spoke his mind and spoke up for his values. Whether you agreed with him or disagreed with him, everyone knew where he stood and what he stood for."

Prime Minister David Cameron also paid tribute to the Labour veteran on Twitter, saying: "Tony Benn was a magnificent writer, speaker and campaigner. There was never a dull moment listening to him, even if you disagreed with him."

Tony Benn's father and grandfather were politicians and son Hilary was a Cabinet minister in the last Labour government. His granddaughter Emily is also pursuing a political career.