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Wednesday, 21 August 2013 00:00

Spoken Word: Tony Benn and Richard Holloway: Two Old Gits

by chris bartter

Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

A highlight of the spoken word section of Edinburgh's Fringe was this double header produced by FairPley.

Over two lunchtimes at the Assembly Rooms, veteran Labour parliamentarian and former "most dangerous man in Britain" Tony Benn joined retired Bishop of Edinburgh, writer and broadcaster Richard Holloway to be quizzed by comedian Bruce Morton before sell-out audiences.

The two (pictured above) first met when Holloway interviewed Benn on a Radio Scotland book programme and Benn had just published Dare To Be A Daniel and the conversation, over the ubiquitous pot of tea, was friendly.

Benn at 88 is sharp, articulate and wears his left principles on his sleeve. Still a member of CND he answered questions on the Iraq war, Tony Blair, a written constitution and religion.

He was particularly good on the history of Britain's parliament and our shared political traditions.

Benn's take on religion is that the main three religions should stress their similarities rather than differences, while Holloway believes religion should be of the weak, non-dogmatic sort administered in what he referred to as a "homeopathic doses."

He and Benn were at one on Iraq and the Middle East in general - a first-class discussion would be generated by pairing these two with a Muslim and a Jewish scholar.

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