In a debate over Saudi Arabian human rights abuses, Tory foreign office minister Tobias Ellwood praised his turncoat son Hilary Benn, saying he “commands a respect and a level of expertise… which… Parliament is very much the wiser for”.
This can only be a reference to Benn’s speech during the debate on air strikes in Syria, in which he rebelled against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to speak in favour of the Conservative Government’s pathetically weak argument for UK military attacks.
Benn only kept his job as shadow foreign secretary in this week’s reshuffle after hard negotiations with Jeremy Corbyn, and with the support of around 10 other shadow cabinet members – but his reputation among the Labour membership has been seriously tarnished.
Ellwood’s words were an attempt to prolong division among Labour MPs and the party as a whole, for the benefit of the Tories. He knew that mention of Benn’s rebellion is like touching a raw nerve for the Labour leadership, and undoubtedly hoped that praising the man responsible would enflame disagreements within the Opposition party. What he actually did was remind us of the important point:
Parliament was much the wiser for Tony Benn’s wisdom and expertise.
Hilary isn’t the man his father was – more’s the pity.
The minister added that he was pleased to see that Benn had not yet been removed from his position as shadow foreign secretary as part of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s party reshuffle. “After much speculation, I am delighted to see [the shadow foreign secretary] in his place today. He commands a respect and a level of expertise in foreign policy affairs which this House, and indeed parliament, is very much the wiser for.”
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