Tag Archives: Dennis Skinner

Humiliation for BBC reporter as Bolsover Beast belittles her for ‘spinning’ the Murdoch line

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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Dennis Skinner: SNP battle left me too tired to heckle during Queen’s Speech – Telegraph

Parliament’s new intake of SNP members have the manners of schoolchildren – and the ignorance of the class dunce.

They should have known better than to try bullying the man known as the Beast of Bolsover.

Those responsible for demeaning their position in this manner should be named and shamed – but, like all bullies, they’re probably too cowardly to admit it.

He told the Telegraph (of all papers, it had to be that one):

“I was engaged in an activity today to ensure that the Scot Nats weren’t going to take over that front bench. You have to get up very early in the morning to do it. I was up at just after 6 o’clock and I had to do it yesterday.

“I don’t think you understand the steps that I have to take. I’m dealing with 56 members of the Scots Nats and on some days I’ve been doing it single-handed.”

“It is about the fact that as long as I remember that bench has never been taken over by a party that believes they can own it.

“It is about a battle of wits but it is also about being dedicated. I don’t see why after all these years a party that has temporarily got a few more seats should be allowed to do as they like in the Commons.

“It is not about me. That bench when I came into the House of Commons in 1970 was inhabited by what they called the awkward squad and by and large it’s had that reputation ever since.”

Source: Dennis Skinner: SNP battle left me too tired to heckle during Queen’s Speech – Telegraph

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Why are disabled people being asked to die for Labour’s election hopes

Rachel Reeves: Does she expect disabled people to lay down their lives for Labour?

Rachel Reeves: Does she expect disabled people to lay down their lives for Labour?

… Especially when it won’t improve those hopes?

Extremely disturbing news has reached Vox Political, courtesy of Liza Van Zyl on Facebook. Extremely long-term readers may recall Liza was the lady who received a visit from police who claimed she had committed a criminal act against the Department for Work and Pensions, just before midnight on October 26, 2012 – being that she had been highlighting the deaths of sick and disabled people following reassessment by Atos and the DWP for Employment and Support Allowance.

Fortunately for those who still have to undergo these assessments, she was not discouraged and has continued to fight for those who cannot stand up for themselves. However, she is currently suffering severe disenchantment with the Labour Party, as she recounts below:

“We heard from Owen Smith MP today [Saturday, March 7] (a member of the left wing of the of the Labour Party leadership) that it is important for disabled people to continue to die, lest any commitment by Labour to scrap the Work Capability Assessment generate a negative response in the press and affect Labour’s general election chances.

“He said that while he personally doesn’t like the WCA, his Labour colleagues will not support scrapping it because of fears it will play badly with the right wing press and damage Labour’s electoral chances… I’ve since been contacted by other disabled people who’ve raised the issue with their Labour MPs, and the response has been: Yes, the WCA isn’t nice but if Labour commits to scrapping it, it would appear to be ‘soft on welfare’.

“The similarities of these responses (and given that Owen Smith is a frontbench shadow sec of state and therefore presumably is up to date on party strategy) indicates that this is an agreed line or represents an actual decision. This is profoundly disturbing, given that a great many Labour MPs know in detail exactly what suffering and deaths the WCA is responsible for among their own constituents: Tom Greatrex organised a powerful meeting of Labour MPs with Chris Grayling two years ago. Dame Anne Begg is herself a disabled person, as are other MPs.

“So: When was the decision taken by Labour MPs that the opinion of the right wing press matters more than the suffering and deaths of disabled people? How was this decision made, and why didn’t the likes of John McDonnell, Dennis Skinner, Jeremy Corbyn etc kick up a holy fuss? I have put the WCA question to parliamentary candidates Jo Stevens, Mari Williams, Chris Elmore and Elizabeth Evans and got the strong impression from them that they were committed to scrapping the WCA… What is going on?”

What, indeed.

This writer would prefer to believe that Labour does not intend to keep the Work Capability Assessment in its current form. The claim here is that an offer to scrap the hated test would “play badly with the right-wing press and damage Labour’s electoral chances” – it doesn’t say anything about what might happen afterwards.

But this raises two points:

  • Labour needs to be told that this ambiguous position is harming its chances at the election. Sick and disabled people vote; so do their families and friends, and so do the families and friends of the many thousands who have died or suffered greatly as a result of the current, demented assessment system. They don’t want to be told that Labour supports a system that kills people for being ill and will most likely vote for one of the alternative parties if this remains Labour policy. The people who read the right-wing press don’t – and won’t – vote Labour, and it is pointless trying to engage them; they are a tiny minority of the electorate. It would be far better for Labour to engage the far greater number of people who want justice in their social security system..
  • If Labour does intend to scrap or change the WCA, then we’re looking at electoral dishonesty of the kind that forced so many people to lose their faith in politics after the Conservative and Liberal Democrat betrayals that started in 2010 and have continued to this day. Those of us who support Labour want a government that is better.

This writer has tried to get answers from Rachel Reeves, her team, and Ed Miliband many times before, to be met with stony silence. Perhaps if they see a letter about this in the very right-wing papers whose support they are trying to gain, they might actually wake up and realise the stupidity in their handling of this serious issue.

I am quite happy to draft such a letter. Newspapers seem happy to publish correspondence with many signatories, so it seems logical to ask for people who are prepared to support it with their names. Please get in touch, via this blog’s comments, Twitter or Facebook with your name and (if you are part of a relevant organisation) position, and let’s get something sorted before the weekend.

Please share this article with anyone who might wish to contribute.

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What lurks within the brain of the Bolsover Beast?

Dennis Skinner - Parliamentary straight-talker.

Dennis Skinner – Parliamentary straight-talker.

Here’s an interesting criticism that was made following VP‘s article on the Charter for Budget Responsibility.

According to its author, this blog’s observations – that Labour was perfectly able to support the Charter as it was presented to Parliament, because nothing in it was opposed to Labour’s plans – were inaccurate because Dennis Skinner voted against it.

It seems clear that this person was suggesting that Mr Skinner, paragon of Labour values that he is, was voting against the line taken by the party’s leaders because it disagreed with his own – traditional – Labour principles.

This writer would not wish to presume knowledge of the mind of the Bolsover Beast. However, a simpler explanation does present itself.

Labour supported the Charter for Budget Responsibility because it is worded in such a way as to seek a balanced budget by the third year of a five-year period, without suggesting when this period would start or end. The Charter does not attempt to restrict any UK government on its methods of achieving this, so Ed Balls made it perfectly clear that Labour was happy to support what was being suggested.

The Conservative Party would have won the vote, with or without Labour’s support, thanks to the slavish help of its Liberal Democrat thralls. It has been avid to put forward the impression that the goal can only be achieved by imposing £30 billion of spending cuts on the poorest people in the nation, with no other measures being used. That is what will happen if a Conservative government is elected in May – and it seems there are those on the social media who want you to think Labour has subscribed to this.

Those people clearly did not listen to the Parliamentary debate, haven’t read the record of it in Hansard, haven’t read the Charter itself or haven’t seen the Vox Political articles (this last is excusable as VP is a very modest blog).

As was explained at length in the debate (and also on this blog), Labour plans to reduce the national deficit by reversing the tax cuts conferred on our richest citizens by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, and imposing a progressive taxation system to ensure that those best able to pay will do so; Labour does plan some spending cuts, but it also plans to do something that doesn’t seem to have occurred to the Conservatives: Stimulate economic growth.

There was, therefore, no reason for Labour not to support the Charter!

In fact, doing so was a way of mocking the Conservatives; rubbing Tory faces in the fact that they had tried to set a fiscal trap for Labour but had done so in such a poor way that it didn’t matter.

This is where, in this writer’s opinion, the Labour leadership and Mr Skinner diverged.

To a no-nonsense man like Dennis Skinner, this kind of game-playing is unnecessary – frivolous, perhaps. He may even see it as unduly making light of a situation that, for the electorate, is deadly serious. People are struggling because the Tories squeezed the economy; many have died.

He also knows that no Parliament can bind its successor; if Labour is elected in May, it can ignore the vote on the Charter for Budget Responsibility completely.

So it would be entirely reasonable for him to see this debate, and the vote that followed it, as nothing more than party political game-playing, and not for him.

It isn’t that most of the Labour Party supports continued economic austerity – that was disproved in the debate. It certainly isn’t that Labour will follow the Conservative plan of £30 billion in cuts – that was also disproved in the debate, and in the fact that a future Labour Parliament can ignore the decision in any case.

It seems far more likely that he simply didn’t want to play the Tories’ silly game.

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Where are the working people in the PARTY of the workers?

Ed Miliband desperately needs to change Labour image away from being a bunch of middle-class lawyers, barely different from the Conservatives, and back to being the party of the workers[Image: Reuters].

Ed Miliband desperately needs to change Labour image away from being a bunch of middle-class lawyers, barely different from the Conservatives, and back to being the party of the workers[Image: Reuters].

Ed Miliband is talking the talk, but can he walk the walk?

According to the BBC, he’s saying Labour is still the party of working people – but that’s a claim that many may find hard to believe after Emily Thornberry’s incriminatingly insensitive tweet and the revelation that his leadership is likely to ‘parachute’ its preferred candidates into the constituencies of MPs who decide to retire from Parliament in the run-up to the next election.

It seems there may even be a rumour that a senior member of Labour’s health team is about to defect to UKIP.

Here’s Miliband’s problem:

Emily Thornberry, also known as Lady Nugee, now-former shadow attorney general, born in north Surrey to a Visiting Professor of War Studies at King’s College London and a teacher. Barrister. Has spoken on the need for more affordable housing – but her husband, Sir Christopher Nugee QC, had bought ex-social housing stock for over half a million pounds and receives rental income from the property. She’s clearly the wife of a millionaire and her only contact with the working class is professional. What does she know about how working people live?

Let’s look at Labour’s health team:

Liz Kendall, shadow minister for care and older people, attended Watford Grammar School for Girls and Queens’ College, Cambridge. Has worked for two charities and a thinktank before becoming a SPAD (special advisor) to two cabinet ministers. What does she know about working people?

Luciana Berger, shadow minister for public health, educated at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls, a private school in Elstree, Hertfordshire, the University of Birmingham, ICADE in Madrid and Birkbeck, University of London. Worked for management consultancy Accenture advising FTSE 100 companies including Barclays and BP, as well as the London Stock Exchange, Accenture’s Government Strategy Unit supporting government departments including the Treasury, and became Government and Parliamentary Manager for the National Health Service Confederation. Director of Labour Friends of Israel from 2007-2010. Labour was accused of ‘parachuting’ her in as a candidate for Liverpool Waverley in the 2010 elections. What does she know about working people?

And Labour is likely to ‘parachute’ even more “preferred” candidates into seats that become vacant between now and the election, it seems.

Will any of these “preferred” candidates have had a real job? Are there any ex-factory workers among them? Manual workers of any kind?

Dennis Skinner used to be a miner. His recent ousting from Labour’s National Executive Committee was met with outcry across the party.

Aneurin Bevan also used to be a miner. He went on to become the architect of the National Health Service that the Coalition government is busily breaking up and handing over to Conservative Party donor companies.

If Labour was really the party of working people, it would offer voters the chance to choose working people as their MPs. Instead we see an unending flow of lawyers, advisers and thinktank staffers who’ve never done an honest day’s work in their lives – while working people are sidelined.

That’s the dilemma facing Ed Miliband.

Where are the working people in the party of the workers?

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UKIP on course to form government in 3,392 years

A UKIP MP

A UKIP MP.

Congratulations to UKIP on winning its second seat in the House of Commons. At this rate, the party – formed in September 1993 – is on course to form its first UK government in the year 5406!

One has to wonder whether the issues facing the nation will be the same, by then, as they are now.

UKIP stormed to victory – most notably against the Liberal Democrats, who were left with just 4.5 per cent of the 7,800 voters they attracted in 2010. That’s just 349 votes!

The Conservatives, who used everything including the kitchen sink to… well… sink UKIP, kept 59 per cent of their voters, with 13,947 supporters (down from 23,604 in 2010).

Labour suffered a similar drop, retaining 49 per cent of its 2010 vote (down from 13,651 to 6,713).

Turnout was down from 47,971 to 40,065.

None of the above figures present the real fact of the matter, which is that the people of Rochester and Strood voted for their sitting MP.

While UKIP and the media may make much of incumbent Mark Reckless’s change of party, in fact his constituents supported no change.

It doesn’t matter what Nigel Farage might say; this wasn’t so much the Army of the (rich and xenophobic) People didn’t so much score a victory as it was the rest of us learning what Mark Reckless really thinks – and this was hammered home by Labour’s Dennis Skinner, within moments of Reckless being sworn in as an MP.

In the debate on the National Health Service that followed, the Bolsover Beast got on his hind legs and growled: “we dragged the national health service, between 1997 and 2010, from the depths of degradation that the Tories left it in and hoisted it back to the pinnacles of achievement. I have got a united nations heart bypass to prove it—it was done by a Syrian cardiologist, a Malaysian surgeon, a Dutch doctor and a Nigerian registrar, and these two people on the Bench behind me talk about sending them back [Reckless and fellow UKIP MP – and Tory defector – Douglas Carswell].

“If you did that in the hospitals in London, half of Londoners would be dead in six months. Those are the facts about the United Kingdom Independence party.”

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Dennis Skinner’s tribute to Tony Benn

http://youtu.be/uuh8vk3-x60

Many people have remarked on Dennis Skinner’s speech during the tributes to Tony Benn in the House of Commons yesterday – the strength of feeling, respect and simple pleasure at having known the great left-wing politician, diarist and thinker, who passed away last week.

I managed to get a small tribute broadcast on Radio Bristol’s breakfast show that morning, but that effort pales into insignificance beside this.

For all I know, neither Skinner nor Tony Benn may be your cup of tea, but I would still urge you to watch the clip, as it demonstrates that even in modern politics there are still people of integrity.

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