This morning I have awoken to the news that Tony Benn, the long-standing Labour politician, has died aged 88.
Tony Benn was, and remains, an inspiration for me in many ways. His commitment to radical grass-roots politics inspired much of what I believe today. It is this belief, that was instilled into me by Tony Benn, that still pumps through me.
But, on hearing the news of his death, it wasn’t his politics that jumped to mind. My first thought on hearing the news of his death was how on earth are commentators going to find the words that will do justice to a man who was perhaps the ultimate orator.
His turn of phrase, his wit, and his charisma remain unmatched in politics.
His words will live on and will remain as a testimony to his life.
I will, the Labour movement will, and many more from across the political spectrum will dearly miss him.
May he rest in peace.
Some great tributes are coming through on twitter:
Tony Benn is the only person I have allowed to smoke a pipe in my church. RIP. Great man.—
Giles Fraser (@giles_fraser) March 14, 2014
Sad to hear Tony Benn has died. Passionate & powerful speaker, lively mind, generous friend who gave so much time to so many people.—
Rory Bremner (@rorybremner) March 14, 2014
Shakespeare wrote "no legacy is so rich as honesty". Tony Benn left an entire country wealthier with truth. No sadness here. Just gratitude.—
Alex Andreou (@sturdyAlex) March 14, 2014
Tony Benn said what he meant and meant what he was said. An inspiration, a ceaseless fighter for workers' rights, social justice and peace—
Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) March 14, 2014
Tony Benn was a magnificent writer, speaker and campaigner. There was never a dull moment listening to him, even if you disagreed with him.—
David Cameron (@David_Cameron) March 14, 2014
Not a fan of death tweets, but Tony Benn never gave himself airs and graces. Genuinely liked and was kind to people. That's real radicalism—
David Cullen (@humbleetc) March 14, 2014
The thing about Tony Benn is he believed so hard in power of politics to change things, & in importance of ideas, he made you believe too.—
Gaby Hinsliff (@gabyhinsliff) March 14, 2014
Politics, & life, seem so much poorer this morning. Tony Benn will be hugely missed for his courage, clarity, conviction – and kindness—
Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) March 14, 2014
Tony Benn was the greatest orator I have ever seen and many of his ideas re accountability and democracy are at least as potent now.—
steve richards (@steverichards14) March 14, 2014
Britain is poorer without Tony Benn: democrat, patriot, heir to our indigenous radical tradition. How small his successors seem by contrast.—
Daniel Hannan (@DanHannanMEP) March 14, 2014
Bless you Tony Benn, so inspiring, principled, eccentric and rebellious, full of so much tea and pipe-smoke, you were the perfect Englishman—
Mark Steel (@mrmarksteel) March 14, 2014
RIP Tony Benn. That rare breed of politician, who never clambered aboard a bandwagon in his life.—
Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 14, 2014
Tony Benn had a fearless eloquence. With the confidence of an insider and cunning of a maverick his words and deeds so inspired#RIPTonyBenn—
David Lammy (@DavidLammy) March 14, 2014
Ah Tony B! Thrilled, entertained, maddened, infuriated, amazed and inspired me at various times. And finally makes me weep.—
David Aaronovitch (@DAaronovitch) March 14, 2014
Goodbye dear Tony Benn. You never stopped fighting for the people at the bottom of the heap, and you will not be forgotten.—
(@GeorgeMonbiot) March 14, 2014
No words. Tony Benn RIP—
Jim Jepps (@Jim_Jepps) March 14, 2014
Rest in peace Tony Benn.
Turned his back on privilege to try to make Britain more equal for all of its people. A great man.—
Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) March 14, 2014
Tony Benn died on anniversary of the death of Karl Marx (14 March 1883).—
Steerpike (@MrSteerpike) March 14, 2014
Devastated that our friend for peace, humanity and democracy has passed. Worked with and been inspired by Tony for over 40 years. RIP—
Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) March 14, 2014