Tony Benn meets Ali G: Watch Labour veteran burn Sacha Baron Cohen

 

Tony Benn had many qualities, but perhaps most unprecedented was his ability to be interviewed by Ali G and come out looking even more magnificent than usual (scroll down to watch the video).

Sacha Baron Cohen used the satirical character of Ali G to poke fun at those in power, pretending he was a real character on a genuine TV show aimed at getting young people into politics. Disarming them with Ali G’s apparent stupidity, he would go on to reveal their hypocrisy and total paralysis when they were surprised by his 'innocently' perspicacious questions.

However the tables turned when he met the magnificent Mr Benn. It was Ali G who appeared exposed and vulnerable as Mr Benn was asked about strikes, unemployment and welfare.

With total conviction, Mr Benn demolishes Ali G’s arguments and shows how easy it is for society to become a reflection of our distorted beliefs. To begin with Ali G approaches that most thorny of political issues, the welfare state, asking whether benefits encourage people to be lazy.

 

Mr Benn replies: “ This idea that if you’re unemployed you’re lazy is absolute rubbish. Do you think the miners decided to close the pits because they wanted to be lazy? If you go on strike you lose your income. Nobody wants to go on strike. If you think it’s like a hangover, well, blimey. The miners were on strike for a year, they had no wages for a year. The women had to struggle. They wanted work and the government stopped them from having the right to work so they gave up their income to fight for their jobs and their children’s jobs. If you don’t want to work, well that’s just not true of most people.”

The Labour veteran goes on to make a point that will resonate with many people today.

As Ali G suggest girls get pregnant just to get benefits and that most people are unemployed because they are hungover, Mr Benn tells him: “ You’re not living in the real world my friend, you’re living in a world where everybody is just so bloody greedy that there’s no hope of building a better society and that’s why we’re in a mess. You treat women with a great deal of disrespect, you call them bitches, it’s a term of disrespect, you’re calling them animals. I think this really does come down in the end not to an argument about politics but the fact that you have no time for people. You think they are lazy, greedy, don’t want to work, you call women bitches and then you are asking me about a society that’s happy. Well I’ll tell you what somebody will shoot you someday because you treat them like an animal. “

Tony Benn later found out he had been hoaxed and recorded his thoughts on the issue, writing: “At no stage during our talk did I suspect for a second that it was other than a genuine programme, and when the interview was broadcast and someone rang to tell me about it, I was very angry and wrote to the production company demanding a video, which I watched.

"That should be the end of a simple story of an old man being completely fooled by a comedian in a hoax interview - but there was a sequel which showed it all in a very different light. All the interviews were extremely funny to watch, they all were genuinely educational in that anyone watching them would be bound to question their own prejudices and think about the real issues raised.

"In fact, the programmes were exactly what Channel 4 had said they would be - a chance to present politics to young people.

"Ali G is a very clever man, and I am beginning to wonder if that was what he actually intended to do. "

Read more: Tony Benn dies aged 88
Obituary: No one else led the left so superbly with such fire
Twitter loves Tony Benn
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes