Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Simon Hoggart was hated by Tony Benn

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Simon Hoggart has died. I remember his sketches in Punch which I read in the school library a weekly joy, the only thing in that magazine that I liked. I found it inexplicable that so sensible a man was not a Conservative. 

I thought this from one of his last pieces was worth quoting:
To be loathed by Tony Benn is something any political writer of my age would sell their grannies for. I feel humbled by his hatred. He got almost everything wrong – not least the cuckoo behaviour that helped usher in Margaret Thatcher’s long reign. Or take his trip to the Chinese embassy after Mao’s death, recorded in an earlier volume of his diaries. He says that he was “a great admirer of Mao … he made mistakes, because everybody does”. True enough. I certainly do. But my mistakes do not make me possibly the greatest mass killer in history. Here are the figures: Number of innocent people who died in the Great Leap Forward, through Mao’s policies for the countryside and from mass executions: between 40 and 65 million. Number of deaths caused by me: 0. But Benn greatly admired Mao.

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