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1984: Benn back on road to Westminster
The leftwing rebel, Tony Benn, has beaten off the competition to win Labour's nomination for the Chesterfield by-election.

Mr Benn, who lost his Bristol south east seat in the 1983 general election, was chosen after a selection meeting which lasted more than four hours.

The current Chesterfield MP, Eric Varley, is standing down to return to a job in industry.

Since Labour lost the 1979 election, Mr Benn has been regarded as the leader of Labour's hard left.

I do believe we will get a good result in Chesterfield
Tony Benn
He challenged Denis Healey for the deputy leadership of the party in 1981 and came so close to winning, Mr Healey said afterwards he would have destroyed Labour as a force in British twentieth century politics.

But all that was forgotten today, when Mr Benn managed to convince the 127 delegates on the local party executive that he was the right choice to represent Labour in the by-election.

He said: "I have fought and won 12 parliamentary elections. I totted it up. Three hundred and twenty-nine thousand people have voted for a candidate named Benn."

Mr Benn denied his leftwing views had cost him his Bristol seat.

Changes to the constituency boundaries meant his old seat was abolished and the new Bristol south-east constituency was regarded as traditionally conservative.

"I do believe we will get a good result in Chesterfield and this will lead to serious pressure for change on the government and that will be the first gain, later we shall have Neil Kinnock at Number 10 and that's what we're working for."

The by-election is due to be held in early March.

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Tony Benn
Mr Benn lost his Bristol seat last year

In Context
Tony Benn went on to win the Chesterfield seat and continued to represent the constituency until he retired from Westminster in 2001, reportedly to "devote more time to politics".

As an MP, his outspoken views on the abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords, as well as nuclear disarmament continued to make waves.

But as "old" Labour gave way to "new" Labour, Tony Benn became more of an elder statesman.

Although he frequently clashed with Tony Blair in the Commons, he gained respect as a campaigner for parliamentary independence.

In 1999 Hilary Benn, one of his four children, won the Leeds central by-election, thus becoming the fourth generation of Benn parliamentarians.

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