TONY Benn, the veteran Labour politician who died this morning, recalled travelling through Swindon countless times during his tenure as an MP in Bristol.

He also made many speeches here over the decades, as well as appearances at the Swindon Festival of Literature and at the Wyvern Theatre, to which he brought his one-man show in 2008.

Shortly before that appearance, he praised the people of Wootton Basset - now Royal Wootton Bassett - for their compassion during the repatriations of service personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although staunchly anti-war, he said: “It’s absolutely right that they should celebrate the connections between the people and the soldiers.

“These young men and women are being sent to fight a war that an overwhelming majority of the people of their country disagree with, but they are doing their job with dignity and diligence.”

His most spectacular visit to the area was on April 10, 1970, when he went to Fairford and became the first supersonic Concorde passenger.

At the time Mr Benn was Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s Minister of Technology, and a strong advocate of the aircraft which would become a global symbol of Britain.

Following his two hour flight aboard Concorde 002 with test pilot Brian Trubshaw, the MP said: “I enjoyed it very much indeed.

“It was a very quiet and smooth flight. When we went supersonic I felt nothing at all, but then I didn’t expect I would.”