Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Skinner’


10/10/2017, 10:10:00 PM

by Robert Williams

Almost the entire political class in the UK is a pathetic, cowardly disgrace. I don’t mean the committed Brexiteers, those anti Europeans who hate the idea of co-operation with our closest neighbours, and who fantasise about turning the UK into the 51st state of America, or some sort of low tax, low regulation, low quality, cheaper, nastier and colder version of Singapore.

Neither do I mean the strange group of Labour MPs, including the Dear Leader and his shadow chancellor, Dennis Skinner and Kelvin Hopkins, who believe in a left wing version of Brexit (“Lexit”) because they think the EU is a capitalist club, and they want to deliver “socialism” in one country.

These groups represent nothing but a tiny minority of their parties, and are even less representative of the country. They know this, which is why they scream and shout about the “will of the people”, deliberately ignoring the fact that the “people” amounted to 37% of the electorate voting to leave.

If you believe that leaving the EU will be a disaster, diminishing Britain permanently and wrecking our economy, those you should have real contempt for are the moderates. Some of these pro Europe centrist MPs, the vast majority in the Labour Party, and still making up the majority of conservative MPs, are now meekly and pathetically accepting that we will, in some form or another, indeed leave the EU.

It cannot be stressed enough that the Brexit referendum was utterly flawed and based on nothing but lies and fantasy. Young people between 16 and 17, most affected by the decision, were excluded from the vote. British expats were excluded from the vote. It was a non-binding referendum, won by a flimsy majority, following a campaign based on outright lies, misrepresentation, distortion, funded by extremely dodgy sources and with likely malign influence of American billionaires and Russian cyber bots.

Last year’s referendum was the most shameless example in British history of our democratic deficit.

And this was just the process. As events have developed the never ending stream of bad news about our economy, our credibility, our ability to take control of anything at all should be enough to make a sane and rational MP, to think again.

And yet we have the truly incredible sight of the weakest, most divided and intellectually enfeebled government in modern history, utterly clueless in what sort of Brexit they desire, who show not the slightest understanding of how the EU works, how trade agreements work, who can’t plan, prepare or negotiate, and are fast turning Britain into a banana republic, an international laughing stock.

And this is supported by the Labour Opposition, with the courageous exception of 52 Labour MPs who voted against the Brexit Bill. The rest really should know better.


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The real story of the Commons Brexit vote was the leadership’s disingenuous positioning

18/09/2017, 10:27:22 PM

by Rob Marchant

“Dennis Skinner…votes with Tories” ran the headline. But the truth is that Dennis Skinner actually voted for what he believes in: that Britain is better-off outside the EU. He only did what Jeremy Corbyn had already done hundreds of times (about five hundred, reportedly): vote with the Tories against his own party. As did six of his backbench colleagues (interestingly, Caroline Flint MP, who abstained, seemed to get more grief on social media than Skinner, who voted for the motion. We leave readers to draw their own conclusions as to why that might be).

Corbyn’s calculation, in contrast, was based on what it usually is: what he could get away with. Does anyone seriously believe that he has changed his opinion on the EU after over three decades opposing it as an MP?

Of course not. The calculation was that he could not get away – either with the public or his own party – with asking the PLP to support the Tories in a hard Brexit, so he allowed Keir Starmer to lead the charge and got out of the way.

And so we ended with the bizarre spectacle of two long-time, hard-left colleagues on opposite sides of the fence: one because he actually believed the same of the Tories, for once; and one because he also believed the same as the Tories, but couldn’t say so.

There was a helpful, complicating factor: that the Tories had come close to overreaching themselves, in insisting on giving themselves a muscular authority over governmental decisions which went so far as to pretty much break the principle of separation of powers between legislature and executive.


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Dennis Skinner, viral YouTube sensation

10/02/2012, 08:27:51 AM

by Atul Hatwal

The internet is a strange place.

Last year, Uncut ran a regular shadow cabinet goal of the month competition. We picked some choice shadow cabinet moments from the previous month such as clips of parliamentary performances, media interviews and press stories, and asked you to vote on the best.

At the time, the clips – which are on YouTube – initially attracted viewing numbers that typically ranged from the low hundreds to the low thousands with views declining to a trickle in the days after the Uncut piece.

Until a few months ago, that is. Without any prompting from Uncut or elsewhere, the numbers of views started to rise. A little at first. Then some more. And more again to the point where several thousand new people are now viewing these clips each week.

The most popular is this excerpt of Dennis Skinner from last July’s goal of the month hacking special, questioning David Cameron at PMQs over his meetings with News Corporation. At the time, Skinner attracted a few hundred views. As of three months ago, there had barely been any movement in this number.

But in November the invisible hand of the internet intervened.

By last night, almost 34,000 people had viewed the piece with 89 comments and figures rising at a solid 10,000 views per month.  As I wrote this piece there were 40 more views.


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Goal of the month: hacking special

22/07/2011, 08:36:23 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Readers pick from Miliband, Coogan, Watson, Skinner and er more Watson, for their Hackgate highlight

Around this time of the month we normally do a shadow cabinet goal of the month competition.

But this hasn’t been a normal month.

Hacking has been global front page news, and in amidst the shocking, tawdry and downright bizarre revelations, there have been some points of light that will be remembered for the right reasons.

We bring you five of those moments. Make your choice, vote and tell us which you rate the best.

1. Ed finds his voice

PMQs on the 6th July seems an age ago. On Monday this week, Michael Dugher gave us the inside story about this pivotal exchange on Uncut.

Back then, it was a risk to call for Rebekah Brooks to resign and the BSkyB bid to be referred to the Competition Commission. Plenty of folk on the Labour side were nervous about attacking News International so explicitly.

But as Ed Miliband sets out his case, even David Cameron begins to understand the strength of the case.

In the clip, at the start of Miliband’s first intervention there’s a cut away of Cameron sitting on the government benches. His puce, Colonel Blimp-like expression is the image of man on the wrong side of the argument.

One of the features of the declining years of the last Labour government was the number of times Ministers went out to defend unpopular decisions by hiding behind the obscure detail of government process. It defined the foot dragging approach on expenses.

Cameron’s response to Miliband’s first question is a case study in the dangers of governmentitis.

Its amazing that after just fifteen months in office, someone who is meant to be good at presentation explicitly mounts a defence of their position to such an emotive issue on “a technicality”

2. Knowing him Steve Coogan, knowing you Paul McMullan, a-ha!

On the 8th July, at the end of the first week of revelations, Newsnight hosted what has already become a legendary confrontation.

Steve Coogan pulverises Paul McMullan, a man who, through his media appearances, has done almost as much damage to News International as Glenn Mulcaire’s notebook.

There’s a clear point where something snaps in Coogan and he is straining at the leash to thump Mcmullan. But instead of lunging, he channels the anger and takes McMullan to pieces.

Coogan’s righteous onslaught perfectly echoes the feelings of a nation getting to grips with the extent of the scandal. Shock, revulsion and a growing anger.

McMullan’s limp and flailing body language is the visible representation of News International’s defence.

It’s a metaphor that remains just as appropriate today.

3. Tom Watson exposes Murdoch for what he is

Do you remember the scene in the third Indiana Jones film, where Harrison Ford comes face to face with Hitler?

Well there was touch of that about the first moments of the Select Committee session.

After years of tireless campaigning by Tom Watson, as well as many others, suddenly there they were, Rupert and James Murdoch, face to face with their previously insignificant and ignored inquisitors.

In the days before the session Tom had been playing down expectations. There weren’t going to be pyrotechnics, a single killer question or Few Good Men moment. Murdoch wasn’t going to crack, shouting “Parliament can’t handle the truth!”.

In a sense, Tom was right. There was no explosion, but something equally striking did occur.

This figure who has dominated the media for the best part of four decades was exposed for what he is – an ageing, out of touch, old man.

No doubt, part of the coaching Murdoch received before his appearance was to drill him to think carefully before answering. But to wait so long before uttering anything? And then to stumble over his words and facts?

This wasn’t Ming the Merciless, it was Elmer Fudd.

In terms of getting to the truth, Rupert Murdoch’s responses weren’t terribly helpful. But for the future of News Corp and the role of the Murdoch family in running a media empire, it may well be the turning point.

On the morning after the Select Committee performance, for the first time, News Corp’s big shareholders started to find their voice and organise to put in place some proper corporate governance – a process that will ultimately likely move the Murdochs out of the company.

Tom Watson’s revenge on Rupert Murdoch could yet be to destroy his media dynasty.

4. Cameron caught out by Watson

ITMA! No, not Tommy Handley, Tommy Watson (if you get that you’re older than you look). Not content with a star turn at the Select Committee, he made one of the key interventions in Wednesday’s hacking parliamentary marathon

Rising to respond to Cameron’s bald assertion that no-one raised any specific claims about Coulson with him when in government, Tom Watson catches Cameron clean out.

Studious, measured and precise, Tom Watson is the anti-thesis of the Prime Minister. He has been methodically driving this campaign forward, week in, week out for years.

In contrast, there is something David Gower-esque about Cameron – ability but insufficient application and prone to the same errors time and time again.

He doesn’t recall the letter. Or the fact he did actually respond. The jeers that greet the first words of Cameron’s response vividly illustrate the growing credibility problems he is facing.

His “tribute” to Tom Watson is so obviously a stalling tactic and the absence of any form of rebuttal confirms that it’s another skied catch from the PM.

Lack of attention to detail has become an established part of the media perception of the Prime Minister and is now part of the core part narrative for his government’s failings.

Fifteen months into office, Cameron is running down his credit with the public. Every time he slips up like this, he becomes a little less the Prime Minister, and little more the PR man.

A comment from the Sydney Morning Herald twenty-one years ago about Gower seems eerily prescient,

“Graceful, elegant, languid, indifferent, cavalier, diffident, reckless, and…too laid-back for leadership. As even his county chairman once observed: “Let’s face it, David does not give the appearance on the field of having the job by the balls.””

5. Skinner and the House laugh at Cameron

Laughter is the cruellest punishment in the House of Commons.

David Cameron’s took one hundred and thirty-six questions on his statement and to those who watched it at the time, overall, he came across as capable and combative.

But politics today isn’t about three hour debates.

It’s mediated through the packages for the news broadcasts. And for all of Cameron’s abilities, his obvious discomfort when answering questions on his discussions with News International about the BSkyB bid always meant he was going to struggle in the clips.

Eleven times Cameron was asked and eleven times he evaded.

Dennis Skinner provided the pick of the bunch.

The question isn’t the most eloquent, but Skinner’s presence carries the House with him. As Cameron squirms, the Commons erupts. Through the prism of the nightly news, this exchange showed David Cameron, literally as a laughing stock.

It’s been a long two weeks for the government. If any proof were needed of the impact of the crisis on their mood, it was written on the faces sitting on their front bench.

Nick Clegg doing his very best “nothing to do with me guv” expression. Every aspect of his body language is detached and uncomfortable. And on the other side, Theresa May, semi-slouched and with a face like thunder.

Regardless of the number of supportive backbench interventions enforced by the Tory whips, David Cameron remains very much a man alone.

So there they are, five magic moments from the hacking farrago. Vote now and tell us, and the world, your choice.

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Shadow cabinet: team Lammy wants your vote

24/09/2010, 09:09:34 PM

Sent: Friday, September 24, 2010 6:21:51 PM

Dear colleagues,
As a broad group of MPs from across the party, we will all be voting for David Lammy as one of our 19 choices for the Shadow Cabinet elections. We believe that he would be an asset to our party in the Shadow Cabinet and we urge colleagues to lend David one of their votes.


Karen Buck
Gerald Kaufman
Frank Dobson
Dennis Skinner
Gisela Stuart
Natascha Engel
Chuka Umunna
Pamela Nash

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