Critic of Smith and Mugabe dies

Tony Benn, who died in London on March 14 at the age of 88, was a lifelong opponent of apartheid and white rule in Rhodesia. He was not only a prominent British politician after the Second World War but also a noted diarist.

Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn, politician and diarist, at an anti-Mugabe demonstration in London in 2005. Picture: Trevor Grundy
Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn, politician and diarist, at an anti-Mugabe demonstration in London in 2005. Picture: Trevor Grundy

An obituary in ‘The Guardian’ said that only Winston Churchill’s self-mythologising surpassed this as a model of how to secure one’s place in history. In Parliament he was a champion of the poor and under-privileged but in his own life was enormously wealthy, married to the American millionaire Catherine Middleton De Camp, a socialist educationalist.

The Benns lived in a large house in one of London’s richest areas – Notting Hill – and he once said: ”My contribution to the Labour Party is that I know the British establishment inside out and what they’re up to.” In the 1960s, Benn was a strong opponent of Ian Smith and all-white rule in Rhodesia, an opponent of apartheid in South Africa and in later life a critic of President Robert Mugabe who he said had misled and betrayed the people of Zimbabwe.

Benn participated in anti-Mugabe demonstrations but was always quick to tell journalists that Ian Smith of Rhodesia laid the pavement upon which Robert Mugabe walked after the birth of Zimbabwe in 1980.

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