WEARSIDERS have been paying tribute to Labour stalwart Tony Benn, who has died at the age of 88.
The sometimes controversial former member of parliament for 50 years, a cabinet minister under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, died peacefully at home yesterday morning, his family said.
Benn, who was married to Caroline and had four children, including son Hilary who followed in his political footsteps, retired from parliament in 2001, famously announcing that he wanted to concentrate on politics.
Tributes have been flooding in on Twitter as news of his death spread, with Northumbria police and crime commissioner Vera Baird, QC, tweeting: “First met Tony Benn Durham Miners’ Gala in 70s. He said he didn’t know there were young lawyers. We should sack some old judges and make room.”
Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson, said: “Very sad news about Tony Benn. An incredible orator who captivated his audience. Thoughts with @hilarybennmp and the whole family.”
Sunderland Minster’s Reverend Chris Howson, tweeted: “Tony Benn, hero of the left, has died. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”
“So sad, the death of Tony Benn, a towering figure to the Labour movement, my thoughts are with @hilarybennmp and all of the Benn family,” tweeted Sunderland Central MP and energy minister Julie Elliott.
Sunderland Conservative member Dominic McDonough’s tweet read: “Very sorry to hear about the passing of Tony Benn. A man who stood up and fought for his beliefs with passion and determination.”
Easington MP Grahame Morris tweeted: “The passing of a political legend. RIP Tony Benn. Principled radical, great orator, but always decent polite and kind.”
In a statement, his children said: “It is with great sadness that we announce that our father Tony Benn died peacefully early this morning, at his home in west London, surrounded by his family.”