Free at Last!: Diaries, 1991-2001

Free at Last!: Diaries, 1991-2001

Paperback

By (author) Tony Benn

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  • Publisher: ARROW BOOKS LTD
  • Format: Paperback | 752 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 46mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 23 October 2003
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 009941502X
  • ISBN 13: 9780099415022
  • Illustrations note: 16
  • Sales rank: 331,712

Product description

Tony Benn is the longest serving MP in the history of the Labour Party. He left Parliament in 2001, after more than half a century in the House of Commons, to devote more time to politics. This volume of his Diaries describes and comments, in a refreshing and honest way, upon the events of a momentous decade including two world wars, a change of government in Britain and the emergence of New Labour, of which he makes clear he is not a member. Tony Benn's account is a well documented, formidable and principled critique of the New Labour Project, full of drama, opinion, humour, anecdotes and sparkling pen-portraits of politicians on both sides of the political divide. But his narrative is also broader and more revealing about day-to-day political life, covering many aspects normally disregarded by historians and lobby correspondents, relating to his work in the constituency, including his advice surgeries. This volume also offers far more of an insight into Tony Benn's personal life, his thoughts about the future and his relationship with his family, especially his remarkable wife Caroline, whose illness and death overshadow these years. Tony Benn is a unique figure on the British political landscape: a true democrat, a passionate socialist and diarist without equal. With this volume, his published Diaries cover British politics for over sixty years. It is edited, as are all others, by Ruth Winstone.

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Author information

Tony Benn is the longest serving MP in the history of the Labour Party. He entered the Commons in 1950 and with Ted Heath held the record post-war timespan as an MP. He has held four cabinet posts and has twice contended the leadership of the Labour Party, of which he has also been Chairman. He has written over fifteen books. Ruth Winstone has edited all volumes of Tony Benn's Diaries and several biographies of political figures. She is associate editor of the Times Guide to the House of Commons; and currently works as a Library Clerk in the Commons.

Review quote

"The new volume is, to my mind, the best - he discards his Sunday best and allows himself to emerge as a human being full of weakness and anxieties balanced by an enviable capacity for love and joy" -- Craig Brown Mail on Sunday "There is a passion in Benn's writing and speaking that far transcends the miserable aspirations of most contemporary politicians" -- Paul Foot Guardian "It is the personal side of the story that most compels...This is the unselfconscious reminiscence of a man in full" Daily Telegraph "This is a powerful record of the times" -- Simon Heffer "Easily the best of the year's diaries... It proves to be an astonishingly moving and human document" Anthony Howard, Sunday Times

Editorial reviews

This latest volume of the diaries of maverick Labour politician Tony Benn covers the election of Tony Blair as leader of the Labour Party followed by that of the first Labour government since Benn was himself a Minister under James Callaghan. Like its predecessors, the diary is full, free and frank, with many sketches of Parliamentary life, records of great and not-so-great occasions, shot through with Benn's often naive but always intensely personal and completely honest opinions. He is one of the - some would say the only - completely honest politicians in public life, and whether the reader agrees with his views or not, he speaks his mind with such transparent candour that it is impossible not to like him. He likes people, too - and while he loathes, for instance, the politics of John Major - and even more the politics of his own leader, Blair - with a bitterness bordering on fanaticism, he is happy to regard them as personal friends (showing a slightly surprised pleasure when they reciprocate). Apart from politics, his life is a happy and fulfilled one - though this volume of the diaries describes the death from cancer of his beloved wife Margaret, a talented woman in her own right, and is a touching and inspiriting record of how to deal with the death of a partner. The Benn diaries can be compared with those of Pepys, and no one interested in the politics of our time can afford not to know them. Now we must await the Benn film autobiography, for he has a passion for his miniature video camera, which he even smuggled into the House of Commons to record the last minutes of his long career there, before his resignation set him 'free at last'. (Kirkus UK)