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The Beast of Bolsover roars once more

Michael Crick | 21:07 UK time, Wednesday, 18 May 2011

An amazing salvo from Dennis Skinner at Prime Minister's Questions today. It was vintage Skinner, of a kind we've not seen for 10 years or more.

Many believe the Beast of Bolsover has mellowed in recent years, following his heart troubles and problems in his personal life.

But not today. Dressed in red shirt and red tie, he thundered:

"In recession-hit Britain, the billionaires have gone up by 20 - an increase of 37% - in this first year of Tory rule. Whilst in the real world, inflation's going through the roof, thousands of blind people are having to march through the streets of London to hang on to their disability living allowance. What a savage indictment of this lousy, rotten ..."

Then his words were lost in the noise.

Whatever your politics, it was wonderful theatre.

Skinner plans to retire at the next election, and make way for a neighbouring Labour MP as the boundaries in Derbyshire are redrawn and the number of constituencies reduced.

Indeed, Skinner originally planned to retire at the last election, but then heard rumours that the Labour high command was planning to parachute the former Conservative Quentin Davies into his seat. So he decided to stay put.

After the next election Skinner would have been a possible contender to become Father of the House, having served as an MP since 1970. Others to have lasted that long include Michael Meacher, Ken Clarke, Gerald Kaufman, and the current Father, Sir Peter Tapsell (an MP from 1959 to 1964 and then from 1966 until today).

But Skinner is not interested in what he sees as a minor form of patronage.

The other question is whether Dennis Skinner will write his memoirs. He's been talking to publishers, and a possible ghost-writer, Les Scott, but is worried as to whether they'd sell or not.


  • Comment number 1.


    Shrewd, competent management, in difficult times - it isn't. Why would we want that, when we can have theatre of such high order?

    Quick - export it to North Africa.

  • Comment number 2.

    Dennis Skinner is a big mouth Labour dinosaur.

    Inflation is running out of control thanks to Labour and Bank of England policy of quantitative easing (printing money), and trashing the UK Pound with another massive devaluation (didn't want to use the "Pound in your pocket speech" again from the 60's).

    Labour sold half the UK taxpayers gold reserves at a record low, then announced the sale to make sure the price goes down even lower - deliberate tactic. Labour racked up a record breaking £4Trillion deficit, created the first run on a bank in 109 years, record low interest rates in over 300 years (prolonging UK's recession), raiding savings and pension pots to bail out borrowers, record low amount of saving and investment, and on it can go..

    In short, Skinner should keep his trap shut, as it was LABOUR that created the UK's economic mess.

  • Comment number 3.

    I couldn't disagree more with Dennis Skinner's politics but I admire him for sticking to his principals. Whenever he speaks in parliament, you know something entertaining is coming.

  • Comment number 4.

    'Whatever your politics, it was wonderful theatre.'

    My politics is competent, honest, ethical folk getting on quietly with the job of securing what is best for my family and country.

    So no, it was not wonderful anything.

    Except to the minute bubble brigade remoras who are allowed exist only to tell the country what they think they need to hear or, if counter-narrative, distracting bread and circus act nonsense like this.

    It's a form of political 'reporting' well past its sell by date.

    But simply changing the delivery mechanism over addressing the compromised content production system seems to be higher on the priority list.

    For some reason.

  • Comment number 5.

    excuse me - but moaner's comment makes me laugh...Johan Hari has already devastated the notion that our national debt is unusual - the facts don't seem to bother the free marketeer's polemic.
    and Dennis's point obviously wouldn't bother anyone who has not got a disability and zero chance of deceitfully short selling some derivatives and making a billion.

  • Comment number 6.

    It's a pity the 'beast' didn't do any roaring when Tony Blair started his back door privatisation of the NHS or his failure to re-nationalise the railways. Maybe he feels that with Ed Miliband 'Old' Labour is set for a triumphant return. In which case he is doomed to disappointment.

  • Comment number 7.

    #4 Junkk

    We are on the same page re the ridiculous BBC activity recently, but don't let that blind you to Skinner's qualities. You may not agree with his politics but he is a superb constituency MP and has curried favour with no government.

    If only they were all as dedicated to serving their electorate.

  • Comment number 8.

    #2 moaner

    Enage brain before mouth, young man.

    Inflation is being caused by rises in food prices and fuel. The rest of our economy is in deflationary mode. Interest rate rises have no impact here because we have to eat and fill up our cars, let alone heat and light our houses. QE has had a negligible effect at best.

    How can low interest rates cause a recession? They have only been low to deal with the global, yes global, recession caused by the banking meltdown which was, in turn, due to laughable lending practices. Labour is culpable here for being sufficiently gullible in believing in light-touch regulation, but did not force Northern Rock to lend so ridiculously. Using your logic, Bush's policies caused Lehman Brothers. Can't have it both ways, sport.

    As I said, a little more careful thinking would not have gone amiss before posting.

    BTW Skinner is a first-rate constituency MP who has seen it all before. When you know as much as he does, come back to us.

  • Comment number 9.

    The House will be intellectually diminished by the absence of this great genious. Can some one remind me what this prat actually achieved in his long taxpayer- funded "career" ?

  • Comment number 10.

    '7. At 17:36 19th May 2011, Bass_Man wrote:'

    Fair enough. I stand, if not corrected, then suitably tempered.

    But in a febrile media environment that passes for 'news' these days, there does seem an unhealthy symbiosis between some who play to the gallery, the galleries who are receptive and how it is all portrayed.

    Which, IMHO, serves few other than the protagonists and their agendas.

  • Comment number 11.

    #8 Bass_Man

    While SOME of the costs of food, oil and other commodities can be blamed on speculators pushing up prices, it is because stupid countries like the USA, United Kingdom and others performed / performing Quantitative Easing (printing money). Add to that, yet again while in government, Labour performed a massive devaluation of the UK Pound.

    Add it all up, and you can see that the biggest squealing on price rices of basics are in the G20 countries, the very ones that performed QE and continue to trash their currencies.

    Currency trashed = less purchasing power, so prices of imported food, fuel etc rise. This creates the problems. Ergo, it is GOVERNMENT and Band of England that has created the UK's inflation problem, nothing else.

    Speculators are driving up commodity prices because they can see the governments have trashed the paper currencies, and continue to do so. They want a return on their investments, now to see them go down.

    So, blame the Labour / Coalition and Bank of England, do not try to blame others for our inflation woes.

  • Comment number 12.

    The House of Commons gets its colour from the back-bench MPs not from the front bench cabinet members opposition spokesmen/women and who tow the official party line.

    An effective opposition requires people such as Dennis Skinner who probably reflects the opinion of the average person in the street more than many MPs. The Commons would certainly be lacking without a few MPs like him. He is invariably newsworthy when in full flight.

    Dinosaur may be the wrong word for him; there are plenty of antediluvian (before the biblical Great Flood) MPs on the Conservative benches.

  • Comment number 13.

    #11 moaner

    When speculaters cause price rises, governments have no control over this. QE has no impact on this. Don't forget most QE funds have been retained by banks so do not see how this can be inflationary.

    G20 countries have not had uprisings like Tunisia and Egypt, caused at least partly by rising food prices. Only squealing, as you put it, in PIG and this is due to EU pressure.

    Explain Labour's devaluation mechanism. If you are referring to interest rates, this was inevitable given the banking-induced crisis.

    I see you decline to take up my challenge on Lehman Brothers. Can't bring yourself to criticise a (very) right wing government, I suppose.

    I also surmise that you think unemployment is a price worth paying for miniscule inflation. As long as you're OK then everybody else can go hang, eh?

    And, finally, you make no comment about Skinner, the object of this thread. Again, I surmise that you know you are wrong and have nothing to say.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    #9 Isatou.

    Representing his constituents; just what he's paid for, in fact. And they seem to like him as he's been there since 1970.

  • Comment number 16.

    #13 Bass_Man..

    It is going a bit off-topic but will take you up on a point.

    What happened to Lehman Brothers was unfortunate. Unfortunate because all the banks that practised what they did in hiding bad assets with good assets should have folded. The fact that they were instead saved by sucker taxpayers was NOT capitalism, it was more akin to Communism. Mess up, who cares, someone else will pay for it.

    Have the banks changed their behaviour? No. So the answer to the banking problem has been proved that they should have folded. Economies are not sorting themselves out because there is so much bad money out there, and good money being turned to bad money in keeping the stupid mess going.

    Number of bankers and banks charged with defrauding taxpayers = zero. Number of politicians that helped cause the problem in the first place charged = zero.

    Therein lies the problem.

  • Comment number 17.

    #16 moaner

    Agree with you here. Banks and pollies share blame to some extent.

    However, your charges are aimed specifically at Labour so I am still looking forward to your detailed explanation justifying this.



  • Comment number 18.

    Bass_Man 15
    Skinner's constituents would elect a donkey if Labour asked one to stand ! How do you know he is a good constituency MP ? Live there, do you ?

  • Comment number 19.

    Fantastic moment when Dennis Skinner got up and wiped the floor with Cameron, he blasted him to smithereens and a red faced, on the back foot Prime minister could only trot out the usual 'dinasaur' routine when it is his party that is taking us back to dinasaur thirties with youth unemployment going through the roof and inflation knocking 5% and the homeless growing every month and cut backs in social care growing in numbers not seen since the fifties.....Dennis is not the dinasaur but a collection of them are on the government benches, and I would buy his book!

  • Comment number 20.

    the man is a dinosaur, what is so fundamentally wrong with earning money, i read this once and it is totally true

    when a right winger sees a man in a smart suit and nice shoes walking down the street he says, wow im gona work hard and end up doing well like him

    and when a

    left winger sees a man in a smart suit and nice shoes he whines why has he got all the money, its not fair he has more than me i want some of it,

    to link in billionaires with the disabled is blatantly trying to stir up feelings off resentment in the populace and he should be ashamed

  • Comment number 21.

    @ jedlo - you're missing the point. 20 extra billionaires, yet this government is taking money from blind people and other disabled. I'd rather be a dinosaur with morals than a Tory any day.

  • Comment number 22.

    #18 Isatou

    Rather dismissive of his constituents, Isatou. Do you know any of them?

    I know about Skinner's record because I have studied it in my professional role. I would recommend you read work by Philip Cowley of Nottingham University to ascertain how effective Skinner has been as a backbench constituency MP.

    Hope this helps.

  • Comment number 23.

    Isatou #18

    I also live in a constituency where the voters would elect a Donkey if one was asked to stand. However rather than wearing a red rosette [Labour] it would have to wear a blue one [Tory].

    There are plenty of constituencies around the country where the electorate are fiercely loyal to one particular party until the MP gets found out for something like an expenses fraud e.g. Barnsley. Even in Barnsley a Labour MP, be it a brand new campaigner, was still returned by the electorate to Westminster.


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