Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Britain is still a country for an old, unphazed, unbridled and unrepentant backbench Member of Parliament called Dennis Skinner

Dennis is the 84-year-old Labour MP for Bolsover and one-time Chairman of the Labour Party and yesterday, once again, proved himself a great parliamentary backbencher, as he has been for the whole of his 46 year Parliamentary career, when he asked if the Prime Minister, David Cameron, if he would clarify his questions about the PM's mortgages for his two homes ? :

"At the time when he was dividing the nation between strivers 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 to him : he didn't write off the mortgage, the one the taxpayers were helping to pay for, in Oxford. I didn't get a proper answer then. Maybe 'Dodgy Dave' will answer it now ?"

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, asked Dennis if he'd like to "rephrase his statement", specifically the word 'Dodgy', or leave the Commons Chamber for a 'Breach of 'Parliamentary Order.' Dennis ignored the Speaker's suggestion and continued : "This man has done, to divide this nation, more than anybody else. He’s looked after his own pocket – I still refer to him as Dodgy Dave. Do what you like."

Unphazed, unbridled and unrepentant and in no mood to recant,  without saying another word, Denis strolled out of the Commons Chamber of the 'Mother of all Parliaments.' Dennis, who has been a Labour Party, Member of Parliament for Bolsover since the age of 38, was born in Clay Cross, Derbyshire in 1932, the third of nine children of coal miner Edward, who was sacked and blacklisted after the 1926 General Strike
Bright and articulate, he passed the 11-plus and went to Tupton Hall Grammar School a year early, at the age of 10 and at the age of 16, chose to leave school, rather than try for university. He followed his father down the pit and when he started work at Parkhouse Colliery, one of 10 mines close to Clay Cross and at a time when there were 700,000 miners in Britain who were the vanguard of the Labour Movement.

From the word 'go' he made a series of vows as an MP :  no junkets, no drinking in the Commons bars, no pairing with the Opposition and his majority in Bolsover has remained rock solid : “I’ve survived because I had a set of principles and took decisions about expenses 20 years before the trouble came out in the press.”

Dennis usually sits on the first seat of the front bench below the gangway in the Commons, known as the "Awkward Squad Bench" because it is where rebel Labour Party MPs have traditionally sat and he continues to wear a distinctive tweed jacket and signature red tie, whilst most other MPs wear suits and has gained the sobriquet, 'the Beast of Bolsover', for falling foul of the procedures of Parliament, many of which are, in his view, archaic and contemptible.

And Dennis over the years : 

Dennis questioning  Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Downing Street expenses :

Questioning  Prime Minister Cameron 2011
and 2012

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