It appears that The Hon Emily Benn is not the only member of her family to display open hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn and his team, in a clumsy effort to bring down the democratically elected leader of the Labour Party.Now her mum’s getting in on the act.
Given Corbyn’s long-time friendship and admiration for Tony Benn, who was the father of shadow foreign secretary Uncle Hilary and The Hon Emily’s own father, Stephen, or Viscount Stansgate as he prefers to be known, the antagonism towards him displayed by some of his family seems a little sad.
The Hon Emily, the occasional Labour councillor for Croydon’s West Thornton ward and sometime backer of the Women’s Equality Party, ran to the newspapers a little while ago with a set of trumped up charges against Andrew Fisher, Corbyn’s political adviser. A formal complaint by The Hon Emily, or whoever it was who did it in her name, to undermine Corbyn by getting Fisher expelled from the Labour Party came to nothing.
Clearly, though, there remains some antipathy, judging by the Twitter feed of Nita Clarke, or Viscountess Stansgate, as The Hon Emily’s mum is known ever since her husband rushed off to claim the hereditary title which Tony Benn had worked so hard for years to renounce.
It seems that Corbyn can’t even dare utter the names of historical political figures without raising the ire of the Viscountess. It was reported by Guido Fawkes – who provide political coverage to Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper, no less – that during the Parliamentary Labour Party’s Christmas party, Corbyn had mentioned Enver Hoxcha, for 40 years the totalitarian Communist leader of Albania.
Viscountess Stansgate may have some experience of totalitarianism. She has worked as an adviser to Ken Livingstone and also in No10 Downing Street when Tony Bliar was Prime Minister. She is now a governor of the Whitgift Foundation, the “charity” which presides over the large private schools which operate in Croydon and which owns vast swathes of property in the borough, including controlling the Whitgift Centre.
The late Tony Benn’s daughter-in-law responded to Guido Fawkes, somewhat spikily it seems, saying: “Is someone keeping a checklist?” She then displayed her own intimate knowledge of 20th Century European dictators and control freaks (if not the correct spellings of some of their names): “Caeucescu, Honecker, Beria and Big Joe still to go.”
As an aside, it is worth recalling that the Progress-backed candidate in the Labour Party leadership election achieved the support of 4 per cent of the party. Corbyn got 59.9 per cent of the vote.
And he’s staying classy.
At Wednesday’s Westminster press drinks, Corbyn said: “I’ve been told not to mention Mao-Tse Tung, Karl Marx and Enver Hoxcha. So I haven’t.”
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