Leyton and Wanstead Labour MP John Cryer today paid tribute to veteran Labour politician Tony Benn, who died this morning aged 88.

Mr Cryer’s father Bob and Mr Benn were close friends.

“Tony Benn was a giant political figure in an era that was full of very influential personalities. He was a captivating speaker – both inside and outside parliament – and one of the greatest writers and diarists,” Mr Cryer wrote in a statement.

“In the 1950s and 60s he was at the very centre of British politics. But in the 70s he was the leader of the radical left while Thatcher, Joseph and Powell led the radical right. It was Tony’s tragedy that large parts of the country chose to go with Mrs Thatcher at the crucial moment.

“As far as I know he only spoke at one election meeting at the 2010 general election which was with me in Wanstead. Almost certainly, Tony’s last election meeting, then, was in Leyton and Wanstead.

“My thoughts and condolences are with the Benn family and friends at this time.”

Tony Benn passed away in his west London home this morning surrounded by family.