The irony is that, had Benn stuck to the centre ground that he occupied for his first 20 years in parliament, he may* well have become Labour leader and possibly even prime minister. In the end, however, the die was cast in the early 70s when he opted to throw his weight behind the grassroots uprising and against the party establishment. He once explained his disaffection thus: "I was brought up to believe that when you were elected to parliament, you were elected to control the statute book, the purse and the sword. But I have sat in a commons that has abandoned control of the statute book to Brussels, control of the sword to the White House and the purse to the IMF."Chris Mullin on Tony Benn here
*Brits. Do not argue with a Brit about moods and tenses. DO. NOT. DO. THIS.