DENNIS Skinner, Member of Parliament for Bolsover, was suspended from parliament for a day’s sitting after referring to Prime Minister David Cameron as “Dodgy Dave”. After being demanded by speaker of the commons to withdraw the word “dodgy”, Skinner repeated it and remarked “do what you like” to the speaker.
As he left a Tory MP quipped, “He’s used to this.” Indeed, it isn’t the first time the ‘beast of Bolsover’ has been removed from parliament or caused a stir by his sharp manner in parliament. We thought we’d look back on some of his most famous quips and outbursts:
1. 1984, with David Owen. Skinner lost his cool against David Owen, previously on Labour front bench but now part of the newly formed Socialist Democratic Party, a split off from Labour. Skinner referred to Owen as a “pompous sod” in a parliamentary sitting, and after having the speaker urge him to retract the sharp insult, Skinner replied that he would retract “pompous”.
2. Again in 1984, with Margaret Thatcher. During questions put towards the then Prime Minister over an impending Court of Appeal, Skinner commented to the house that should she lose she’d have to resign, asking “how can we be sure that she will not go to the extent of bribing the judges who are to take the decision?” The Prime Minister and the Speaker demanded the accusation to be withdrawn, Skinner, defiant as he was last week replied “I have no intention of withdrawing the allegation because the Prime Minister would do anything to save her own neck.”
3. 1992, with John Gummer. Skinner was kicked out of the parliamentary session after he set his sights on the Tory John Gummer, the agriculture minister, called him a “little squirt of a minister” and a “slimy wart” on Thatcher’s nose. Ouch.
4. 1988, with the Black Rod. The opening of parliament is steeped in pomp and tradition, and little did they know that a new custom was starting. As Black Rod (Sir John Gingell) entered the House of Commons, dressed in the all black traditional wear, Skinner quipped “Ey up, here comes Puss in Boots!”. This was one of the earlier of many future heckles to the Black Rod.
5. 1994, with The Royal Family. In an interview outside of parliament, David Skinner was commenting on a growing republican sentiment in the UK saying it was only a matter of time before the monarchy was abolished. He seemed pleased at the thought of their occupations after the abolition that never came. “The Queen could get a job at Royal Ascot, taking care of the horses (…) and Prince Phillip could be running a kebab shop in North London,” said he.
6. 2000, with The Guardian. During the previous weeks and months, the Guardian newspaper had been calling for a repeal of various laws associated with the monarchy, such as the royal prerogative. After Black Rod’s entry to parliament and order from the Queen, Skinner called on him to “tell her to read the Guardian.”
7. 2005, with George Osbourne. Back in 2005 when George Osbourne was the shadow chancellor, allegations of cocaine use emerged in the tabloids. Skinner, in reference to the economic record of Thatcher’s Tory government in the 1980’s, remarked that, “The only thing that was growing then were the lines of coke in front of boy George and the rest of the Tories.”
8. 2006, with The Queen. Another one of his quips at the start of the parliamentary opening. When on behalf the queen the Black Rod demanded the commons to convene at the House of Peers for the Queens speech, Skinner called out the Black Rod “Have you got Helen Mirren on standby?”
9. 2006, with Theresa May. When Theresa May made the accusation that Tony Blair had misled the House over the performance of the NHS, she was excused in a manner that riled Skinner who shouted, “she was let off ’cause she’s a Tory.” The speaker demanded Skinner withdraw the outburst and he was suspended for the day’s sitting when he refused.
Any Skinner outburst you think we missed? What’s your favourite parliamentary quip? Let us know in the comments below.