Emily Benn and Alex Salmond 41

Emily Benn inherited her grandfather’s physiognomy.


She has come to fleeting attention by criticising Alex Salmond for saying that Tony would be “birling in his grave” at Hilary Benn’s warmongering.

During the Westminster elections, I received a text from the SNP asking members living in the centre of Edinburgh to nip down to the Mound for a photocall with Nicola Sturgeon. I looked out of the window at a cold Edinburgh morning, rain driving horizontally, and decided against it. Nadira remarked “If it was Alex Salmond you would have gone.” This is true. If it were Alex Salmond, I would have gone if it had entailed attempting to cross a river of molten lava.

It is therefore with consideration that I say that on this occasion I think that while Salmond was absolutely right that Tony Benn would fundamentally have disagreed with Hilary’s speech, the expression was perhaps over-colourful. I did not really get to know Tony until 2005 on, when the great chasm of Hilary’s support for the Iraq War already loomed between them, but Tony’s parental affection and pride were undimmed. There would be something really wrong with you for your opinion of your children to be conditional on their sharing your political opinions. So probably not birling.

But equally, I am quite sure Tony would not have felt Alex had anything to apologise for, and would have much admired Salmond’s own contribution on Syria.

UPDATE Several commenters have formed the impression that I object to the phrase “birling in the grave” as offensive. I do not, it is a perfectly ordinary phrase. My point is rather that there was no family split in the Benn family despite some radically different political opinions, and that seemed to me in fairness worth noting. I describe “birling in the grave” as over-colourful purely as a description of the Tony-Hilary relationship, not as an offensive phrase. Tony certainly is birling in his grave over the Syria vote.

Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

41 thoughts on “Emily Benn and Alex Salmond

1 2
  • intp1

    Note that the first thing they did after the vote was to ask the Americans where they needed us to bomb. the UK has little say in the strategy or the tactical decisions, they can refuse a sortie but the fascist Fallon will always tow the line.
    The irony came up several times as the UK debated, that Cameron wanted to bomb Assad 2 years ago and now he wants to bomb the other side but once again, the apparent contradiction vanishes when we stop accepting the lines we are fed about the objectives.
    The goal is to reduce Syria to an unobstructive facilitator of the West’s and Israel’s will. It doesn’t matter why we say we start action, once we are in the theatre what they do can be easily spun. Remember the UN authorizing a NF zone in Libya and Cameron said we were protecting civilians? We protected civilians by bombing civilians, e.g. we successfully targeted Gaddafi’s family members and carpet bombed Sirte under that mandate.
    That is also why they don’t need success of the Vienna talks or care how effective we are at sustained capture of ISIS territory. The name of the game is a mixture of pipeline wars, Gas reserves and water supply in the Golan and general backstopping Western world dominance. They think they can achieve these objectives either as a vassal Syrian state or a chaotic fractured mess as in Libya or realistically Iraq, . The MIC love it all too.

    I just found this very recent Interview with the ‘butcher’ Ophthalmologist Assad. They keep this guy off the airwaves because he comes over so reasonably.

  • Macky

    Judging by today’s warning from Russia about the illegality of UK strikes in Syria, it seems they don’t share Craig’s inability to how understand how a simple & unambiguous conditional statement works !

  • nevermind

    Thanks for blowing this myth here, Miss Castello, it is long known that precision strikes can hit the other side, by accident, they said.

    Remember Basra during the Iraq war and the errant missile that hit an Iranian refinery, by accident, ehem.

  • Robert Crawford

    Don’t you understand the propaganda game?

    Anyone/thing Scottish is fair game for ridicule (the inferiority complex).

    As for Tony Benn, my upbringing does not allow me to say in the language most suitable to describe him properly, therefore, I will just say “it was impossible for me to give him any credence whatsoever”.

    What his son has just done is to me, “like father like son”.

    He will reap what he has sown!

  • Miss Castello

    Nevermind @10:56 am;
    “Remember Basra” ?

    Sadly, yes: From ‘Isis to Crisis’, C/O Cameron & Co, whose ‘Raison D’etre’ bellows ‘WAR, way to go’.

    All that he knows.

  • ElaineS

    Sorry Craig, I went off on one because of the shocking abuse online for something I felt most Scots would wonder what the crime was in something used so often amongst us,not as insult but just making a point. Twitter needless to say as well as about every British media paper screamed it out as if Alex had committed the crime of the century. So much real tragedy happening and the reaction as per usual over social networking instigated by the media and unionist politicians just disgusts me. They are like a pack of bullies just waiting to pounce but this time when they were screaming “crime” to something Alex most definitely was not in any way being offensive, rather stating the obvious, Tony would have been dismayed his son voted to bomb albeit he knew they differed in opinion on many things, I felt also in a way attacked for my Scottishness by the British media, unionist politicians and all the keyboard trolls just desperate to abuse Alex, SNP,Scots in any way possible. Its getting beyond a joke now when our little Scottish phrases are dissected and turned around by folk in the media and politicians as being “intent” to offend folk when they are far from it. I can only hope the majority of Scots are now thinking “What the hell!” when seeing the mass attack on Alex for something, they themselves say and especially for those of us ex Labour, ifs its not Tony would birl in his grave, its Keir Hardie would……………no one jumped then when it was a Labour person saying what Alex said.

1 2

Comments are closed.