Tony Benn, born in London in 1925, the son, grandson and father of MPs, retired from the House of Commons in May 2001, after fifty years in Parliament, to 'devote more time to politics', the longest serving Labour MP in the history of the party, which he joined in 1942.
He was a Cabinet Minister in the Wilson and Callaghan governments from 1964 - 79, as Minister of Technology, Secretary of State for both Industry and Energy and President of the Council of European Energy ministers in 1977.
An elected member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party from 1959 - 1994, he was Chairman of the Party in 1971/2.
He is a member of the Transport and General Workers Union and the National Union of Journalists and an honorary member of the National Union of Mineworkers.
His published diaries in eight volumes cover the period from 1942 - 2001.
He has also written seven other books, including 'Arguments for Socialism', many pamphlets and several videos and audio tapes have also been published.
The holder of nine honorary doctorates from British and American universities, he was a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and is a regular broadcaster.
In 1949 he married Caroline Benn, educationalist and author of the biography of Keir Hardie (who died in 2000) and they have four children and ten grandchildren.