Conflicts of Interest: Diaries, 1977-80 (Tony Benn Diaries, Volume 4)
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Publish Year note: First published October 4th 1990
In this, the fourth volume of Tony Benn's diaries, the Labour Government continues its fight for survival. Important developments are occurring both at home and internationally. In Britain, Benn as Secretary of State for Energy is directly involved with Windscale and decisions about nuclear power and oil policy. Abroad, the Government is concerned with Carter's reappraisal of American foreign policy, the overthrow of the Shah of Iran and problems of EEC membership.
In the Labour party itself, new forces of radicalism and reform are emerging, resulting in changes in Labour's policies and the ultimate formation of the SDP.
Labour's unsuccessful economic policy and the widening rift with the labour movement lead to the Winter of Discontent and a near state of emergency. With Labour voters defecting, the scene is set for the Thatcher years.
Remarkable woman. Monday 5 February Picked up Mother at 12 to take her to lunch at the House of Commons. She hasn’t been during this Parliament, though she has seen every one of the eighteen Parliaments in session since Edward VII’s last in 1910. She is such fun to be with. I put her in the Gallery to hear my answers to the energy questions. I got in a couple of cracks at the Tories, saying their only advice to the nation had been to brush their teeth in the dark! Tuesday 6 February A poll.
Very angry banker, who asked me about the Labour Party’s plans to renationalise without compensation. I said, ‘The view we take is that it is daylight robbery to sell public assets that have been bought with public money, and we’re not prepared to compensate people that have bought assets in this way. It would be morally wrong.’ ‘You’re not answering the question,’ he shouted. I said I was giving him the answer he didn’t want to hear, and he stormed out. The members of the Reform Club were.
Committee in September on the concept of a rolling manifesto. I introduced it, and started by saying that the Commission of Inquiry might want to include this in its deliberations. ‘The manifesto is the link between the Party in the country and the PLP, between the PLP and the Government, between the electors and Parliament, and is the basis of Civil Service attitudes to politics and Government. Clause 5 of the Constitution provides for it to be produced by a joint meeting between the whole PLP.
Stephen. Born 1951. Educated at Holland Park School and Keele University. PhD for ‘The White House Staff’ (1984). Former assistant to Senator Thomas F. Eagleton. Secretary and Agent, Kensington Labour Party. Labour candidate GLC, 1981. Member GLC Special Committee, 1983–6. Chair, Brent South CLP. Member of ILEA 1981–90 and Chair of General Purposes Committee. School and College Governor. Court of Governors, Central London Polytechnic. Vice Chair, Association of London Authorities’ Education.
People and the world to live with nuclear power, even though they didn’t like it. (I thought that was most revealing.) It was vital, he said, that the planning case for a reprocessing facility at Windscale be put very strongly by the Government, and we must remember that the thermal system we adopted would be the basis of our power plant in the future. Shirley Williams said there could be a very fierce public reaction to nuclear power, and renewable energy sources were very important, but there.