Leeds MP Hilary Benn stands up against those who accused him of ‘dishonouring’ his father’s memory

Hilary Benn

Hilary Benn

Have your say

LEEDS Central MP Hilary Benn has revealed how he has hit back at those who have attacked him for “dishonouring” the memory of his late father.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary has told of the many emails he has received - some abusive - following his “truly great” speech during the Commons debate on Syria air strikes in December.

Speaking to The Guardian, Mr Benn, whose father, anti-war Labour grandee and former Chesterfield MP Tony Benn died in 2014, condemned former SNP first minister Alex Salmond’s comment that his father would be “burling in his grave” at his speech advocating bombing, and also ruled out a Labour leadership run.

Commons votes for air strikes as Benn’s ‘truly great’ speech earns standing ovation

During his speech in December, Mr Benn paid tribute to anti-strikes Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, but said the country was now faced with a threat from ‘fascists’ and UN backing made it imperative to act.

Of his party, he said: “We never have and we never should walk by on the other side of the road.”

Many criticised him for betraying his leader and his father.

Speaking about how he has responded to emails, he told the Guardian: “I’ve said, I’m sorry you’ve decided to use my father’s death as a way of trying to attack me. It’s interesting that some people feel they can use him to bash me over the head, like they own him and his memory, and that somehow I have dishonoured his memory, and that I have some responsibility to think entirely like him. I replied to a woman the night before last, ‘Can I just gently point out, with great respect, you have absolutely no idea what my parents would have thought of me?’”

In the wake of his speech, the odds on the Leeds Central MP making a leadership bid shortened.

But he told the newspaper he would not be running.

He said: “I can look you in the eye and say, no, no, no,” he said. “I have absolutely no interest in leading the Labour party. And that is the truth. It’s a very difficult and challenging job. And I don’t want to do it.”

He also denied speaking out against Mr Corbyn, and that at the time, he did not consider not speaking out over fears he might be sacked.

Read the full interview in the Guardian.

Back to the top of the page