Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dennis Skinner: a true servant of the Labour Party

On arriving at Manchester last week, I was saddened to hear news that Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner was in hospital and likely to be there for at least a week.

So it was a pleasant surprise to see Dennis in the Conference hall on Wednesday for President Bill Clinton's speech.

Like most in the Labour Party, I have huge respect for Dennis Skinner. He has much to teach some of his Parliamentary colleagues about loyalty.

Meeting Dennis on Wednesday reminded me of the words of Tony Blair the day before.

The Prime Minister listed a number of Ministers who had served his Government well, but who he had asked to step aside. He made the point that they had not then discovered their principles.

We all knew exactly what he meant.

A few months ago, I was working on the Blaenau Gwent by-election, and Denis was again in hospital. But a couple of days after his release, he made the long journey from London up to the Welsh Valleys determined to do his bit in the campaign. For Labour.

Shoppers in Ebbw Vale market loved the former miner turned politician who always tells it like it is.

Looking at the photo taken by a colleague, I notice we both have the same colour hair!
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9 comments:

Brynley said...

We all wish Dennis Skinner well.

He has been a great MP.

You are quite wrong, Phil, to accuse him of loyalty.

I've checked his recent voting record in parliament.

He voted against the Labour Whip twice in July 2006, four times in May 2006, three times in March 2006.

Indeed, he sometimes acts as teller for the rebels.

[The Public Whip Website].

Kerron said...

I am a big Dennis Skinner fan, but I think I'm right in saying that he has rebelled more than any other MP in Parliament during his years representing his constituents.

Although he was on the Labour NEC for many of them.

He is a great servant to the party and we owe him a debt of gratitude.

Get well soon, Dennis.

Hughes Views said...

Dennis is one of my heroes. I've only met him once but I did sit opposite him during my one vist to the 'special side gallery' to watch PMQs. It was wonderful to watch him chuntering on at the MPs opposite him and reminding them of their many shortcomings.

I'm glad to learn he made it to Manchester. Even though he sometimes votes against the government line, he is a truly loyal Labour man always there giving vocal and sincere support at election time.

I also have ‘chosen’ the same colour for my hair ...

Bruno (Skegness) said...

Good on you, Dennis.

From one Beast to another!

fairdealphil said...

It's hard to explain our love for Dennis. As Brynley and Kerron point out, he's a serial rebel.

I certainly don't have the same affection for other rebels.

Perhaps the Prime Minister had it about right when he said on Tuesday - as reported by Oona Blackman in the Mirror:

"As he neared the end of his 61-minute speech Mr Blair paid tribute to the breadth of his own party by naming left winger Dennis Skinner.


"He said: 'Dennis Skinner. Watching from his sick bed. Get well soon.

'Never agreed with a policy I've had. Never once stopped him knowing the difference between a Labour government and a Tory one. This is the party I'm proud to lead'."

adrian said...

Phil,

You look distrubingly like Bruce Kent in that snap!

Chris Gale said...

My fave Dennis Skinner quote was from the hunting debate in 2004..

'tell the House of Lords to go to hell and that we will carry this Bill'

He also frequently tells George Osborne (Tory tresury spokesprat) that he is "educated beyond his intelligence"

Anonymous said...

Thats why we love him because he knows the importance of a labour Government, even if he doesn't necessarily agree with everything it does.

Tim Swift said...

I agree with the comments here. The difference between Dennis and many other so-called Labour rebels is that he NEVER forgets the 'Labour' part. Even when he is giving our government hell over something, he always, always, ends up with a passionate attack on the Tories. That's why many of us who have very different views within the Labour party admire and respect him in a way we cannot admire and respect so many of the 'usual suspects' who seem to enjoy rebelling with never an ounce of balance.