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POLITICAL VETERAN WHO GAVE UP A PEERAGE TO REMAIN A COMMONER.

PROUD socialist Tony Benn is from a long serving political family. His father William was an MP for the Liberals and later Labour before accepting a peerage as Lord Stansgate.

Tony Benn entered Parliament in 1950 at the age of 25,after an Oxford education.

But in 1960 he had to step down after he inherited his father's title. From the Lords he helped change the law allowing a new peer to give up his title,and as plain Mr Benn returned to the Commons in 1963.

Described as an ``Old Testament prophet'' who ``immatures with age'' by then Prime Minister Harold Wilson, he became minister of technology in the Wilson government.

A teetotaller who drinks a pint of tea every hour,and a vegetarian since 1980,Mr Benn has made a lifelong habit of recording every talk and interview he gives on cassette, dicta phone or minidisc,for fear of being misquoted by the media.

But he is not entirely vice-free -he is rarely seen without his trademark pipe,and was voted pipe smoker of the year in 1992.

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COURTING CONTROVERSY:Tony Benn's interview with Saddam Hussein months before the Iraq war drew derision from some quarters
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 28, 2003
Words:200
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