Letter: Who will set the Tony Benn record straight?

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Sir: I was more than interested to read Ruth Winstone's account of the editing of the 'diaries' of Tony Benn ('The voluminous story so far', 25 August).

Who checked them for accuracy? Is Ms Winstone not aware of the likely reaction of the overwhelming number of people involved in these times? In bookshops, especially at Labour Party and trade union conferences, people look up their names in the index, riffle back to see what's there, and then there is a mixture of great gusts of laughter and barely controlled fury.

Yet this set of 'diaries' - or, really, one endless sound bite - are now to pass as history.

'Fortunately for me,' writes Ms Winstone, 'there were enough doctors or PhD hopefuls all wanting to go through the original transcript of these eventful months with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that my gingerly attempted editing was accurate to the last dollar.'

I'll suppress my first reaction of wondering what kind of doctors are rushing to see them and ask if in among that queue of hopefuls there was someone - anyone - who wanted to go out and double-check them for truthfulness.

Serious newspapers are to print articles and Radio 4 can broadcast extracts. Is no one offering space to the people who can set the record straight and dispel the myths?

Poor old Labour punters - to have these 'diaries' accepted as a record of our times and struggles, and Gordon Brown on tax - what the hell did we do to deserve this?

Yours faithfully,


MEP for Glasgow (Lab)

Cowcaddens, Glasgow

25 August