Undeterred by her failure as a councillor in Croydon, Tony Benn’s granddaughter is seeking elected office once again.
The Hon Emily Sophia Wedgwood-Benn is a candidate in elections being held in the City of London later this month.
The former Labour councillor for West Thornton ward – she lasted less than two years – and one-time parliamentary candidate in Croydon South, where she managed to increase the Tory majority by 2,000 votes in 2015, is this time standing as an independent candidate in The City’s ancient Bread Street ward.
The Hon Emily is the daughter of Tony Benn’s older son, Stephen, and his ex-wife, Nita Clarke.
Tony Benn famously spent years fighting against the hereditary principle which would have kicked him into the House of Lords as Lord Stansgate. He spent 47 of 51 years as an elected MP, only briefly interrupted following the death of his father and a successful campaign that succeeded with the Peerage Act 1963 and his renunciation of the title.
His son had no such scruples. After Tony Benn’s death in 2014, Stephen Benn made a dash for the ermine, and the generous daily allowances available in the Lords. As a consequence, his daughter has, technically at least, an honorary title as “The Honourable”.
The City elections were delayed a year because of covid, and the polls will now be held on March 24.
The elections are slightly different to those staged in most London boroughs, in that each ward has an alderman. In Bread Street, the current alderman is Sir William Russell, the 692nd Lord Mayor of London and who, because of covid, served two consecutive one-year terms, the first Lord Mayor to do so since 1861.
The Hon Emily these days works as a merchant banker, and has long ago moved away from Croydon. But she’s still sarf London: she gives as her address a £1million apartment at Shad Thames.
She is one of four candidates in what is called a “wardmote” to select two “common councilmen”.
The City Corporation advises us that, “Common Councillors are elected every four years to serve on the City Corporation’s committees… Their position in the City is a purely voluntary one and it is not remunerated.” So no allowances this time around for The Hon Emily.
“They work alongside the Aldermen, of which there are 25 (one per ward), to oversee the work of the City Corporation and the delivery of a diverse range of services to residents, City workers and visitors.”
For all her famous and much-admired grandfather’s political career, he never did stand in an election in which the result was, as will happen in Bread Street ward in three weeks’ time, “published on the Ward Notice Board at St Paul’s Cathedral Gardens”.
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