Tony Benn is dead.

Posted on 14th March, 2014

He is mourned not just as a man, or a father, but also as a politician.  


This is remarkable in an age where the latter are held in even lower esteem than bankers and estate agents.


But today Britons of all political persuasions – and none – are celebrating Benn’s passion, his conviction; his authenticity.


Benn was an old man who had lived a full, and colourful, life.  His loss is indeed sad, but it is also in the natural order of things.


The real tragedy is the acutely short supply of politicians who follow his dictum:


“Say what you believe, and believe what you say”


This is ironic, because one of the fundamental societal changes wrought by the digital revolution is a significant, and probably irreversible, appetite for greater honesty and transparency – in every aspect of our lives.


But when – Benn aside - did you last hear a serious politician talk with either purpose or authenticity, let alone both? Instead, they continue to trot out the same pompous, top-down, duplicitous, jargon-laden, deeply patronizing gobbledygook and half-truths that no professional marketers in 2014 would ever dream of trying to get away with.


Brands have, perhaps, responded to the transparency zeitgeist a little better (to the point where both ‘purpose’ and ‘authenticity’ are in danger of becoming cliches) but the execution has often been clumsy, leaving a lot to be desired.


Perhaps Tony Benn’s greatest contribution to the nation, and there were many, is reminding us all – marketers and politicians alike - that nothing win hearts and minds like conviction.


“Say what you believe, and believe what you say” 


- this piece first kindly published by Campaign Magazine

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