Hilary Benn

Salmond: Hilary Benn’s Syria speech would have made his dad turn in his grave

Salmond: Hilary Benn’s Syria speech would have made his dad turn in his grave

Hilary Benn's speech last night in favour of air strikes in Syria, would have made his father turn in his grave, Alex Salmond claimed today.

The shadow foreign secretary, whose father Tony Benn was avowedly anti-war, gave a widely-praised defence of the government's actions last night.

The speech was credited with swaying the votes of a number of undecided MPs in favour of action in Syria.

However, the former SNP leader attacked Benn for failing to show loyalty either to his party leader or to his deceased father.

"It was a great speech coming to the aid of a Tory prime minister taking the country to war and he doesn't mind all that much.. about seeing his leader being described as a terrorist sympathiser. You can call that a great speech but there's not much loyalty there," he told LBC's James O'Brien.

He claimed that Tony Benn would have been ashamed of his son's speech, if he were still alive.

"He [Hilary] appealed to a lot of traditional Labour buttons but I will tell you this, his father, whose speech I heard, in the Iraq debate all those years ago and I was sitting in virtually in the same place. His father would be 'birling' in his grave hearing a speech in favour of a Tory prime minister wanting to take the country to war. And that is just the reality."

Later in the interview Salmond insisted he "deplores and deprecates personal abuse to politicians or anyone else."

However, when asked why he had made the comments about Benn's father, he replied: "Oh that's fair comment."

"I think its a fair comment about the contrast between the two Benn's… It certainly doesn't in my book constitute abuse of any kind… It's a fair political comment to contrast the views of the father and the son."