When Tony Benn died in March 2014, his obituaries in the British main stream media were remarkable for the uniformity of their post mortem affection for him. To the political left he was a hero: to the political right he was mad, but everyone recognized the sincerity of his beliefs. He was widely heralded as one of the last of a dying breed of conviction politicians who actually meant what they said, and the absolute last of the left-wing firebrand parliamentarians. This was incorrect. There remains Dennis Skinner, who delivered a remarkable eulogy to Benn in the House of Commons.
The halting nature of his opening: is this genuine reluctance to speak or a clever piece of decorum creation? You decide. I rather think the latter.
Thank heaven for TV cameras in Parliament (I am old enough to remember the ferocious opposition to them). The meagre attendance in the Chamber means that this wonderful piece of speaking would have been largely wasted without this video making it available to posterity.
It really is outstanding.
I realize that there are times when some readers might find him so difficult to understand that they’d like subtitles. This will be particularly true of readers from outside the UK – but by no means exclusively. Skinner would not be Skinner without his Derbyshire accent, though his enunciation is excellent.
Essentially what we are watching is raconteurism of a very high quality. He narrates incidents connected with Benn, and does so with wonderful changes of tone-colour, rhythm, pace, volume, intensity, etc. One minute his fellow members of parliament are in hysterics, the next you can hear a pin drop.
I have nothing further to add. Enjoy it: it’s brilliant.