Tony Benn ‘opposed Scottish independence’ but died before he could say so in public

Late Labour stalwart believed independence for Scotland would ‘seriously weaken both England and Scotland, his brother has revealed

The late Labour MP Tony Benn was fervently opposed to Scottish independence and had wanted to come out publicly in support of the Better Together campaign before he died, his brother has said.

Mr Benn, who was half English and half Scottish, believed that a “Yes” vote in September’s referendum would weaken both countries, his brother David Benn wrote in a letter released today by Labour.

Described by the Labour leader Ed Miliband as “an iconic figure of our age”, Tony Benn died in March this year before making public his views on the independence debate.

David Benn said his brother was a “committed supporter” of devolution but against “outright independence”, which he believed would have a detrimental impact on the ideals of socialism he spent his life campaigning for.

He wrote: “Tony was one of a large group of people who are half-English and half-Scottish, and one hopes that voters will take some account of their feelings.

“He was profoundly attached to both countries, and was, I know, saddened by the idea that the land of his mother's birth might choose to separate itself.

“My brother was, needless to say, a committed supporter of Scottish devolution. But he was strongly opposed 'in the nicest possible way', as he put it, to outright Scottish independence - a subject we often discussed.

“He was convinced that it would do nothing to promote the Socialist cause which he championed, while seriously weakening both England and Scotland. He had hoped to put his view on the public record, but his last illness unfortunately made this impossible.”

The letter was made public ahead of a visit to Scotland by Tony Benn’s son Hilary, himself a Labour MP and former Environment Secretary.

And it also came as it was announced Emily Benn, 24, will make a fresh attempt to become the fifth generation in her family to become an MP – though she will be trying to overcome a Conservative majority of 15,818 in Croydon South.

Hilary Benn said today: “The socialism my father campaigned for all his life was about solidarity.

“He was a passionate believer in standing together and supporting one another in struggle and difficulty, not pushing people apart.

“To him, independence would not further the beliefs he fought for. That's why he was clear that the Labour cause - and the Socialist cause - was best served by staying together.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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 General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Performance Consultant Trainee

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Consultant trainee opportunit...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - (Full marketing mix) - Knutsford

£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Knu...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Day In a Page

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world