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Emily Maitlis takes her medicine from Dennis Skinner.

Emily Maitlis takes her medicine from Dennis Skinner.

It seems BBC reporter Emily Maitlis has caught foot-in-mouth disease – possibly from David Cameron (we’ll know after PMQs, but in the meantime we have his recent tweet as evidence), possibly – and more frighteningly – from Rupert Murdoch.

She was upbraided on Monday for distorting the facts after an interview with the legendary ‘Beast of Bolsover’, Dennis Skinner, when he told her he had not taken a job on Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet because he had made it clear, prior to Mr Corbyn’s victory in the Labour Party leadership election, that he did not want a place there.

“I don’t believe in patronism,” he told the BBC interviewer – but when she inferred that this meant Mr Skinner would not work for the new leader, he responded: “Work for him? I’m going to walk through the lobby with him today, against this anti-trade union bill.”

Ms Maitlis went on to suggest that Mr Skinner believes the era of ‘spin’ is dead – but then said he had turned down the opportunity of a job under Jeremy Corbyn.

The instant response was: “You’re spinning already. That was spinning; that was an example of spinning, because you were trying to imply that I’d turned it down.”

“No, that was a joke,” said Ms Maitlis – but Mr Skinner’s response made it very clear that she was now the joke.

“I think it’s time that you got real – and that you understood that you’re not working for Murdoch at the BBC, because you seem to be following the same pattern,” he warned, before walking off with a BBC technician trailing, trying to retrieve the microphone attached to his chest.

One very interesting aspect of this is the desperate way right-wingers seem to be trying to ‘own’ this interview. Look it up on YouTube and you’ll see clips marked “Dennis Skinner whining”, “Dennis Skinner mansplains to Emily Maitlis”, “Dennis Skinner launches incredible rant”.

He did none of those things. Interestingly, the clip labelled “mansplains” was posted by a man – who clearly didn’t know what the word means. If you ‘mansplain’, it means you “explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing”. Skinner’s comments were neither.

He was not putting her down because she was a woman; he was attacking her attempt to falsely attribute actions to him that he did not take – which is also exactly what Yr Obdt Srvt is now doing to “Henry Reeve”, whoever this person may be – and I’m not the only one, to judge by the comments on the YouTube page.

Perhaps it’s time these Tory boys and girls got real too – but it will be great fun watching them flounder until they do.

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