Dennis skinner

Beast of Bolsover’s broken birthday promise

PMQs proved a more lively affair than usual thanks to the Beast of Bolsover. Dennis Skinner attempted to ask a question on NHS funding but John Bercow managed to distract from the message by congratulating the veteran Labour MP on his upcoming birthday. The MP for Bolsover will turn 86 on Sunday – not that he’ll be celebrating. In response to the Speaker, Skinner said he had no plans to mark his birthday: ‘Well, I don’t know about that. I don’t celebrate things like that. I don’t think you should celebrate age.’ Perhaps there’s another reason, however, that Skinner doesn’t wish for a song and dance to be made over his

The Beast of Bolsover takes centre stage at conference

Sadiq Khan had to fight for his speaking slot at this year’s Labour’s conference. But while it was apparently difficult to squeeze in a politician with one of the largest personal mandates in Europe, making room for the Beast of Bolsover was not so tricky, it seems. Dennis Skinner was on familiar territory in his speech: bashing the Tories and talking of abolishing zero-hour contracts. He also returned to another favourite subject: the Queen. ‘It really gets to me when they talk about the Queen’s head being privatised,’ he joked. Skinner also had a revelation for the audience on how Labour would fund its plans if it ever made it

2017 General Election: the ten ‘Portillo moments’ to watch out for

Just as in 2015, this election promises to be a tough fight for some of the biggest names. Depending on which pollsters you believe, Labour are either in for a drubbing or their best performance since 2001. The Lib Dems could be about to face annihilation. Even Conservative cabinet ministers are vulnerable in several key marginals. But as before, the most exciting battleground is likely to be in Scotland, where the SNP are retreating from the phenomenal high they achieved two years ago. Listed below are ten of the most significant potential upsets to watch out for after the polls close. Angus Robertson in Moray Expected declaration time: 3:00am Region:

We’re all snobs really

D.J. Taylor’s clever dissection of snobs is really two books in one. Scattered throughout are entertaining, delicious (initially), solemnly related nuggets of hardcore snobbery. He writes brilliantly, for example, about the diarist and National Trust employee James Lees-Milne, who liked a world that knew its place (ideally beneath him). Lees-Milne was steeped so far in snobbery that he couldn’t bear the vulgarity of calling a garage a garage and so called his the ‘motor-house’. Either the absurdity of this makes you snort with laughter or it doesn’t. It does me, though I have to say the cumulative effect of a zillion snobberies is nauseating. You find yourself thinking, ‘My God,

Watch: John Bercow lets the Beast of Bolsover’s ‘dodgy Dave’ comment slide

In April, Dennis Skinner was ejected by the Speaker from the Commons after he called the Prime Minister ‘dodgy Dave’. However, today John Bercow appeared to feel no need to discipline the Beast of Bolsover for using the term at PMQs. When asking David Cameron to help him find the funding for a hospital in his constituency, Skinner suggested this could give way to some positive press for the PM. However, there was a snag in the likely headline: ‘The press might have a headline saying: “the Prime Minister dodgy Dave assists the Beast to save the bolts of a hospital”. What a temptation!’ Perhaps now the Prime Minister is on

Beast of Bolsover backs Brexit

At this late stage in the EU referendum campaign, the majority of MPs have declared their voting intentions — with some even finding time to do so twice. However, one crucial voice has been missing in the debate until now. Step forward Dennis Skinner. The veteran Labour MP has let his thoughts on the referendum down with a splash in Friday’s Morning Star. Skinner tells the socialist paper that he is an outer: Skinner says it’s concerns about the future of the NHS, along with the need to clampdown on capitalism that has caused him to back Leave: ‘In the old days they could argue you might get a socialist

Watch: Dennis Skinner makes his annual contribution to the Queen’s Speech – ‘hands off the BBC’

Last year the Beast of Bolsover failed to make his annual contribution to the Queen’s Speech after he found himself preoccupied battling the SNP for his favourite seat. With that fight now won, Dennis Skinner was able to return to form today. As Black Rod summoned MPs in the House of Commons to hear the Queen’s Speech, Skinner offered up his one-liner. ‘Hands off the BBC,’ the veteran Labour MP cried. Alas not everyone was so impressed by Skinner’s plea for the Beeb. Perhaps disappointed that Skinner had refrained from a more witty riposte — such as his ‘royal expenses are on the way’ line in 2009 — one comrade could be heard telling

Today in audio: Jeremy Hunt stands firm ahead of junior doctors strike

Jeremy Hunt has been facing questions in the Commons ahead of tomorrow’s junior doctors strike. The Health Secretary said the industrial action was ‘wholly unjustified’ and said ‘we are proud of the NHS but we must turn that pride into actions’: His sentiment wasn’t enough to placate Dennis Skinner, however, with the MP for Bolsover telling Hunt to ‘wipe that smirk off your face’: Labour’s Heidi Alexander insisted tomorrow would be one of the saddest days in the NHS – and said that the Health Secretary was to blame: Nicky Morgan also faced a tough time in the Commons as she defended Tory plans for all schools to become academies


Watch: Dennis Skinner tells Jeremy Hunt to ‘wipe that smirk off his face’

Given that the last time Dennis Skinner criticised a Tory Cabinet member in the Chamber he was ejected from the Commons, the Beast of Bolsover was on remarkably mild form today. Following Jeremy Hunt’s statement on the planned junior doctors strike, Skinner told the Health Secretary that he ought to ‘wipe that smirk off his face’: ‘When the Secretary of State came into the chamber today I don’t know whether he realises it or not but there is a smirk and arrogance about him that almost portrays the fact that he’s delighted in taking part in this activity. He could start negotiations today. Wipe that smirk off his face. Get down to some

Today in audio: PM branded ‘dodgy Dave’ as tax row rumbles on

David Cameron has been defending himself in the Commons following the publication of his tax return. He said he found some of the comments about his father ‘deeply hurtful’. He also held his hands up for not responding to criticism sooner following last week’s Panama papers controversy: One of the more personal jibes thrown at him in the chamber came from Dennis Skinner, who branded the PM ‘dodgy Dave’ in a remark which got him booted out of the Commons: Jeremy Corbyn was more measured in his response to David Cameron, but he still used the debate to say there was ‘one rule for the super-rich and another for the

James Forsyth

Has David Cameron’s tax debacle united the Tories?

Yet again, David Cameron has reason to be grateful for the quality of the opposition facing him. First of all, Jeremy Corbyn took until Cameron’s statement to release his own tax return, meaning that journalists were studying that as much as his response in the House of Commons. Second, Corbyn’s own response was long on verbiage but failed to ask any difficult questions of Cameron. Finally, Dennis Skinner had John Bercow order him from the chamber for refusing to withdraw his use of the word ‘dodgy’ about Cameron, which rather reinforced the point that the case against Cameron is long on name-calling and short on specifics. Cameron himself came armed


Watch: Dennis Skinner ejected from Commons over ‘dodgy Dave’ insult

This afternoon David Cameron has had to face the music in the Commons over his shares in his father’s offshore fund. While he received a lukewarm response from his own party, the most hostile response came from the Beast of Bolsover. After Cameron gave an address on his tax affairs, Dennis Skinner angrily responded by calling the Prime Minister ‘dodgy Dave’: ‘At the time when he was dividing the nation between striders and scroungers, I asked him a very important question about the windfall he received when he wrote off the mortgage of the premises in Notting Hill, and I said he didn’t write off the mortgage of the one the taxpayers were helping to

Watch: Dennis Skinner takes Cameron to task over Osborne’s ‘nine lives’

With George Osborne’s disastrous Budget the main topic of conversation today in the Chamber, Jeremy Corbyn surprised his colleagues by opting not to mention the Tories’ current inner-party turmoil — let alone Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation — in his speech. Instead it fell on his estranged comrades Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall to land some blows. Happily Dennis Skinner also joined in — offering up one of his trademark one-liners. He asked David Cameron whether he would pledge to make this Budget Osborne’s last: ‘Will the Prime Minister give us an assurance that in the view of the financial mess that’s been created with this Budget that this will be the Chancellor

Watch: Dennis Skinner takes a pop at Nick Clegg – ‘what on earth was the Queen doing confiding in him?’

Today’s Mail claims that Michael Gove is ‘clinging to office’ as a result of accusations that he was the source of the Sun‘s ‘Queen backs Brexit‘ story. So, in a bid to keep the pressure on the government over the alleged leak, Tom Watson was granted an urgent question today on the growing row. However, little was achieved in the session as Chris Grayling repeatedly refused to answer questions from angry MPs — claiming that there was no case to answer as Nick Clegg has said that the story is false. Happily there was one noteworthy contribution thanks to the Beast of Bolsover. Labour’s Dennis Skinner asked why the Queen had bothered to confide in Clegg to

Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet: runners and riders

Who could Jeremy Corbyn invite into his shadow cabinet if elected Labour leader? Some frontbenchers are suggesting today that he could find two thirds of his shadow ministerial positions unfilled as MPs refuse to serve under his leadership. But who might say yes to an offer from the veteran socialist. These are the runners and riders who might just be prepared to join Corbyn’s inner circle: Golden Oldies Dennis Skinner MP for Bolsover One of Corbyn’s earliest backers, the Beast of Bolsover is also a long-serving member of Labour’s awkward squad. Perhaps he could help out by adding jokes to Corbyn’s dry speeches: his annual Queen’s Speech gags will come

PMQs: David Cameron gives the impression he isn’t sold on a third runway at Heathrow

Harriet Harman began at PMQs by asking about the situation in Tunisia. The mood of the House was appropriately sombre as this issue was discussed and there was much agreement between her and Cameron. But then she turned to the Davies’s report and its recommendation that a third runway should be built at Heathrow, and party politics was resumed. Harman announced that Labour was now backing a third runway, and challenged Cameron to do the same. He dodged, hiding behind the threat of judicial review. Harman then cracked a series of good jokes at his expense, chastising him for ‘being bullied by Boris’ out of doing the right thing for the

Dennis Skinner: ‘Gordon Brown and I were the Northern Powerhouse’

After Dennis Skinner successfully won the SNP turf war over his favoured seat in the Commons, the Labour backbencher has been relatively quiet of late. So Mr S was pleased to see him back on fighting form this lunchtime during Business Questions. In what could only be described as an ambitious move, the Beast of Bolsover decided to take on Anna Soubry over George Osborne’s pet project, the Northern Powerhouse. After Soubry talked of the great work the Tories have carried out in the North, Skinner went on to claim that it was actually he who was behind the Northern Powerhouse: ‘I’ve listened carefully for the last half an hour to find out exactly what

Has Mhairi Black been trespassing in George Osborne’s office?

Since the 56 SNP MPs entered Parliament, they have taken to ‘rebelling’ against the establishment in a number of ways. So far they have focussed their time on trying to nab Dennis Skinner’s seat, going against Commons’ etiquette by clapping in the chamber, and purchasing white roses for the Queen’s Speech. Now they also appear to have had enough of corridors. Stewart McDonald, the SNP MP, claims that the Commons’ youngest MP Mhairi Black has come up with a shortcut through Parliament that involves walking through the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s office: And there was Mr S thinking that Black was beginning to prove the naysayers wrong.

The war of Skinner’s seat: SNP allow Dennis to stay

The first PMQs of the new Parliament will kick off shortly and Commons watchers will be looking to see if Dennis Skinner remains in his usual spot. The socialist firebrand, along with fellow members of Labour’s so-called awkward squad, has previously occupied the second opposition front bench — until the SNP’s 56 MPs came along and attempted to oust him. But it appears that peace has broken out. The Sun’s Kevin Schofield reports that an agreement has been done to allow Skinner and Father of the House Gerald Kaufman to remain on the front bench, alongside SNP members. Other members of the awkward squad are not so lucky. As one

Alex Salmond insists on Nats dining separately from hacks

The Kennington Tandoori is a favourite late-night eatery for MPs of all persuasions. Last night was no exception, with Tom Watson spotted planning his bid for deputy leader of Labour over curry and beers, and the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman Alex Salmond seen enjoying poppadoms with a gaggle of Nats. But word reaches Mr S that all was not well with the restaurant’s seating plan. When the SNP gang arrived, they were somewhat unsettled to find that seated next to their table was a group of  journalists, who were also settling down for a curry. After some furtive glances across the restaurant, the hungry hacks were eventually moved to another table, to ensure they couldn’t listen in on the Scottish Nationalists’