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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019

How Tony Benn erected a secret plaque in a Westminster broom cupboard

The veteran Labour MP screwed the plaque to the wall himself to honour a suffragette who died in 1913.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, veteran British politician Tony Benn revealed a secret he had kept for a long time.

On a special edition of the long-running BBC One programme Songs of Praise in 1999, the Labour MP disclosed that he had secretly placed a plaque dedicated to a suffragette in a broom cupboard in the House of Commons at Westminster.

Emily Davison had hidden in a broom cupboard in Westminster during the 1911 census, so that when she was asked for her address that day, she was able to say that it was the House of Commons.

Davison died two years later after throwing herself beneath a horse which was running in the Derby in a bid to draw attention to how women were being treated.


Benn said the memorial was “one of the very few monuments to democracy in the whole building”.

Speaking in the House of Commons in 2001,  Benn explained that he had put up “several plaques – quite illegally, without permission; I screwed them up myself”.

If one walks around this place, one sees statues of people, not one of whom believed in democracy, votes for women or anything else. We have to be sure that we are a workshop and not a museum.

Tony Benn died surrounded by his family at his home last night. He was 88 years old.

Read: UK politician Tony Benn has died aged 88 >

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