Neither Benn nor Skinner: Prescott blames Polly Toynbee for Labour wilderness years

cover_Good_Working_Class_StockI missed a letter in the Guardian last week from the redoubtable John Prescott, setting the record straight on two important slights on the working class hero status of Comrade Skinner. Polly Toynbee, now regarded by some as a radical, had been horribly off-message in her reluctance to regret the ejection by Labour MPs of Dennis Skinner from its national executive:

Age bestows benevolence, but some with 1980s memories don’t forgive him, Tony Benn and others for rendering Labour unelectable in the “no enemies on the left” days, blocking attempts to stop Militant’s invasion. Roy Hattersley calls him “an entirely destructive force“. But others say a mellowed Skinner often helped Blair and Brown out of difficulties. That is ancient history. Now, for those without rancorous memories, the man is a totem remnant of imaginary days when politics were better, MPs more authentic.

What’s more she implied that neither Skinner nor Prescott had been to university. Not one to see one of the few remaining working class MPs in parliament dissed and unfairly blamed, Comrade Prescott leapt to Skinner’s (and his own) defence: Continue reading

Skinner knocked off Labour executive – election interference seems a yearly event

Dennis Skinner1Dennis Skinner was yesterday unceremoniously booted off Labour’s national executive by Labour MPs. Voting for two of the three seats representing backbench MPs and all MEPs (Margaret Beckett was elected unopposed under gender balance requirements) put chalenger John Healey miles ahead on 216, with Steve Rotherham edging Dennis Skinner out by 133 to 121. Dennis Skinner has represented backbench MPs on the executive for 15 years and had previously represented constituency parties for twenty years until a ban on MPs standing in that section was introduced. As we reported last week: Continue reading

The other state opening of Parliament ritual (starring Dennis Skinner)

Forget the pomp around the state opening of Parliament, carriages and ermine, the ritual we’re all interested in is the annual interjection by the Beast of Bolsover, our own Dennis Skinner. He was on good form today and brought the house (and House) down with his cry of “Coalition’s Last Stand!” The Speaker you’d expect to laugh but even Black Rod can be seen to grin broadly.