Letters: Benn's legacy

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Tony Benn's most memorable political achievement was, I'm afraid, a negative one. He was the major influence in the forces that made the Labour Party unelectable for almost 20 years. Even when the party had begun the long haul back under Neil Kinnock, it took a decade for the public perception of a party under the influence of Bennite extremism to be changed.

Ken Livingstone claims that by the end of the Seventies, Bennism and Thatcherism were the only games in town ("Let's praise the moderniser who became a Socialist terror", 30 June). If this is true, the electorate certainly delivered its own verdict against Bennism.

While reluctant to give anything resembling wholehearted endorsement to the Lady (even at her most powerful she never commanded 45 per cent of the vote), it condemned the Labour Party to the darkest period in its history. Through the influence of "the other Tony", the country was denied a reasonable alternative to the most socially destructive government of the post-war era.

The idea would no doubt be anathema to Mr Benn, but he was the instrument which made the Thatcherite "reforms" possible.

STUART RUSSELL

Cirencester, Gloucestershire

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