The Returning Officer: Benns

Tony Benn after winning re-election in Bristol South East in 1961. Photo: Getty
Tony Benn after winning re-election in Bristol South East in 1961. Photo: Getty

The 2010 candidature of Tony Benn’s granddaughter Emily in East Worthing and Shoreham raised the possibility the possibility of a fifth generation of Benns in parliament. Her great grandfather John Benn was elected as a Liberal in Wapping in 1892 and later for  Devonport. His son William Wedgewood Benn won John’s old Wapping seat in 1906 and went on to represent Leith as a Liberal and North Aberdeen and Manchester Gorton for Labour, losing at Dudley in between. Tony’s other grandfather Daniel Holmes was MP for Glasgow Govan during the First World War. But there have been Tory Benns too. William’s brother Ernest moved in the opposite direction to him, leaving the Liberals for the Tories and founding the Society for individual freedom. The unrelated Sir Arthur Shirley Benn sat for Plymouth Drake and Sheffield Park, with the Cork born Sir Ion Hamilton Benn representing Greenwich 1910 -1922.