Benn's downfall --My part

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Offline the leveller

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Benn's downfall --My part
« on: March 14, 2014, 11:42:22 PM »
I always admired the title of Spike Milligan's book, 'Hitler: My Part in His Downfall'.
With just a little more justification, I claim to have been responsible for the 'downfall' of Anthony Wedgewood Benn.
Or at least to have ended his Parliamentary career, albeit by delayed action.
How come?
During the miners strike, two striking miners dropped a concrete block from a bridge, killing a taxi driver.  They were caught, & convicted of murder.  Benn said loudly, on TV, Radio & in the Press, "These men were not criminals: They should not be in prison."   
I was aghast at this.  In my view, those who commit such crimes ARE criminals, & SHOULD  be in prison.  Killing an innocent taxi driver in such a way is MURDER - whether it be BY two miners, two housewives or two millionaires.   To their shame, trade unions, who should have disowned the murderers,  said the same as Benn.  With such powerful campaigners, very quickly there was an appeal, the convictions were reduced to manslaughter, & they were free in very little time.   

Dropping concrete blocks from bridges became a national sport.
Though incensed by those words from Benn, working 7 days a week as a small farmer, I was unable to do anything about it at the time.  The opportunity came with the 1997 General Election, by which time I was retired.  Though I remembered Benn's words, I had no authoritative record.  Scrambling around for proof, I eventually found it just 24 hours before nominations closed.
Next day, I caught the bus to Chesterfield, where Benn was the sitting MP, knocked on doors till I found 10 local voters to support my candidature as an 'Independent Old Age Pensioner', & put my 500 deposit down with only a couple of hours to spare. 
Never having set foot in the town before, completely alone, during the campaign period I caught the bus to Chesterfield three or four time a week, & stood in the Market Square with a sandwich board, offering what few leaflets I could afford. 
Sharing a platform with Benn at a meeting, he was very friendly towards me.  When someone mentioned his war service, he said, "I was no Hero - but THIS  man was!" (I never made any such claim: just that I 'Did My Bit',"   Telling him WHY I was standing against him, he pretended he never uttered those words, that it was 'only paper-talk'.   On telling him I had heard him say them, his friendliness disappeared & he became very cool.  Challenging him at an open air meeting, he refused to answer me, saying 'You are not a voter here'.  Having lost his Bristol seat, he himself was a carpet bagger in Chesterfield.  His supporting thugs then moved in to silence me.   
Though I stood no chance of defeating Benn, the LibDem candidate DID have.  So, I said to people, "DON'T vote for me, vote LibDem!"   In spite of which, I still got 200 votes, which, under the circumstances, was not bad?   Benn won of course, but with a reduced majority.  The LibDem candidate got many more votes than he would have done had I not effectively handed my voters to him.   In fact, Chesterfield was one of only four seats in the country where the massive swing to Labour was reversed.  (That, I modestly claim, was my doing!)
Benn saw the writing on the wall, & did not contest the next election, with his famously witty excuse of 'Giving more time to politics'.   His judgment proved right, as Chesterfield was indeed taken by the LibDem in 2001. 
That was the high spot(?) of my electioneering career.  At each subsequent attempt, I got less & less votes. 

Ah well, can't win 'em all! (In my case, I can't win ANY!Emoji )
Norman Scarth. 

« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 11:44:03 PM by the leveller »

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