Dennis Edward Skinner (born 11 February 1932) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bolsover since 1970, the Chairman of the Labour Party from 1988 to 1989, and has sat on the National Executive Committee numerous times since 1978.
Queen's Speech Quips
Skinner has traditionally cracked jokes, usually about the Royal Family, during the annual Queen's Speech ceremony. He does this upon the arrival of w:Black Rod (the symbol of Royal authority in the House of Commons) to summon MPs to hear the Queen's speech in the House of Lords. The best known, according to the New Statesman and other sources, are as follows (http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/05/black-rod-skinner-queen-beast):
- In 1987, he said "Tell her to sell up!", a reference to the tightening of belts in the United Kingdom.
- In 1988, he greeted the sight of Black Rod with the statement "Hey up, Here comes puss in boots!", to a great deal of laughing in the chamber.
- In 1990, he quipped "It tolls for thee Maggie", a reference to Margaret Thatcher's impending departure.
- In 1991, on arrival of Black Rod quipping "I bet he drinks w:Carling Black Label"; a reference to an advertising campaign at the time.
- "Improv in the House". BBC News. 10 August 1999. Retrieved on 2009-05-16.
- In 1992, he said to Black Rod "Tell her to pay her taxes"; at the time, this was an important political issue.
- In 1997, he shouted "New Labour, New Black Rod".
- "General Sir Edward Jones". London: Daily Telegraph. 18 May 2007. Retrieved on 2009-05-16.
- A reference to Labour's election campaign slogan "New Labour, New Britain".
- In 2000, he shouted out "Tell her to read the Guardian!" - the The Guardian newspaper was campaigning at the time to repeal various laws relating to the monarchy.
- In 2001, he said to new Black Rod w:Michael Willcocks "You're nowt but a midget!!" to much laughter in the chamber.
- In 2003, he suggested that the Speaker "bar the doors" after Black Rod had arrived, a practice that is used to block late-arriving MPs from casting their votes after the w:division bells have been sounded. After the command he also said "Did she lock the door behind her!" to laughter from other MPs. The tongue-in-cheek suggestion by Skinner was scoffed at by Speaker Michael Martin.
- In 2005, he asked Black Rod "Has she brought Camilla with her?" to much giggling from other MPs. There were reports that The Queen and Camilla were not on the best of terms.
- In 2006, Skinner responded to Black Rod's invitation with "Have you got Helen Mirren on standby?", in reference to the portrayal by w:Helen Mirren of Elizabeth II in the 2006 film, The Queen. The BBC political commentator Huw Edwards called the quip "cheap but funny".
- In 2007, he asked "Who shot the harriers?" referring to a recent event in w:Sandringham, where two protected w:hen harriers had been shot near a royal property. Prince Harry and a friend had been questioned by police over the incident.
- In 2008, he asked, "any Tory moles at the Palace?", referring to the recent arrest of Conservative MP w:Damian Green in connection with an investigation about him receiving confidential information from a civil servant at the w:Home Office who was formerly a Conservative Party candidate. To which Black Rod quipped, "I shall miss you, Dennis", receiving laughter from other MPs. The 2008 State Opening of Parliament was w:Michael Willcocks' last as Black Rod.
- In 2009, he stated "Royal Expenses are on the way", a reference to the parliamentary expenses scandal.
- . (18 November 2009). State Opening of Parliament 2009 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth including Black Rod
- In 2010, he stated "No royal commissions this week" in reference to the recent newspaper story in the News of the World which revealed that the former Duchess of York had taken cash payments for introducing businessmen to the Duke of York. Interestingly this time, whether through error or purpose, he made his one-liner in the middle of the Yeoman Usher's (who was filling in for an ill Black Rod) speech. To which the Yeoman Usher replied at the end, "Thank you, Dennis".
- In 2012, he shouted "Jubilee year, double-dip recession, what a start" to the evident annoyance of many MPs on the government benches.
- In 2013, he exclaimed "Royal Mail for sale, Queen's head privatised" in reference to the government's plans to sell off sections of the Royal Mail and Margaret Thatcher's comment when she was Prime Minister that she wouldn't privatise the Royal Mail as she was not "prepared to have the Queen's head privatised".
- In 2014, he shouted "coalition's last stand" in reference to the unpopularity of the Liberal Democrats and the widening gap between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems
- "every now and then you see the arrogance of Cameron, and that comes through every so often. It is the Bullingdon Club. When they were sat down – him and Gideon [Obsorne's birth name] – and he says: 'You know what we really want, Gideon? Every weekend, after we've roughed up one of those hotels, we need an army of volunteers to come in and clean it all up.' And Gideon says: 'Yeah, we could call it the Big Society" interview with ,Decca Aitkenhead - The Guardian, (Sunday 17 June 2012) - http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jun/17/dennis-skinner-formed-pits-war
- "Tell the House of Lords to go to hell."
- During the 2004 fox hunting debate in the House of Commons.
- Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (2004-09-15). House of Commons Hansard Debate - 15 September 2004. Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved on 2010-04-29.
- "I thought you were taking Marquand with you."
- Heckling Roy Jenkins in 1976 when, during his farewell speech to the w:Parliamentary Labour Party before leaving to become w:President of the European Commission, he said: "I leave this party without rancour". Jenkins, who famously pronounced his Rs like Ws, left the Commons at the same time as w:David Marquand, the MP for Ashfield and a close ally of Jenkins.
- "Does my hon. Friend agree that when millions of parents and others in Britain are wrestling with the problems of drug abuse among young people, and when the Government are trying to do their level best to tackle those problems, it is a sad state of affairs that the Tory Opposition receive £1 million a year from one of the biggest drug runners in the west?" [Members of the House: "Oh."] Is it not high time that the Leader of the Opposition had the guts to get rid of him?"
- Referring to allegations about Michael Ashcroft at the time
- "When I called the Right Hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) a pompous sod, Mr. Speaker said to me, 'You had better withdraw that'. I said I would withdraw 'pompous', but said, Mr. Speaker 'That's not the word I'm looking for.' There was laughter in the House and everyone thought that I had hit the nail on the head. I thought that that was a real parliamentary triumph, but Mr. Speaker thought differently. He said, 'Off you go,' and I did not get a chance to reply."
- Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. House of Commons Hansard Debate - 28 February 1992. Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved on 2010-04-29.
- "The Hon. Gentleman is making pretty heavy weather of the fact that he was kicked out of this gentleman's club for 20 days. I call it a gentlemen's club, but it is known as the mother of Parliaments, although only about 42 women are allowed in here. The Hon. Gentleman is complaining that he got 20 days. His real problem is the fact that he is not the Tory Party candidate at the next election - and that has nothing to do with what happened in this place.
- I have been kicked out of this place about seven times, but I did not have any chance to explain. No one said to me, "Dennis, will you explain why you said that the Right Hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) was lining his pockets when he picked up that non-executive directorship of British Telecom?" I would have loved to tell everyone all about that, but Mr. Speaker said, "On your bike - early bath," and off I had to go.
- I accused the noble Lord, Lord Pym, when he was a Member of this House, of being the Minister for Unemployment because there were nearly 2 million people on the scrap heap - that pile of human misery known as the dole queue. Again, I was not able to make a speech before Mr. Speaker sent me out.
- Those were all genuine statements that I had to make. The Hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne) was kicked out for 20 days because he lined his pockets with about £50,000 and did not put it in the register as he is supposed to do, and now he is whingeing but I reckon he got away with blue murder!"
- Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the 1970s and a lot of the 1980s, we would have thanked our lucky stars in the coalfield areas for growth of 1.75 per cent.? The only thing growing then were the lines of coke in front of boy George Osbourne and the rest of them.
- She has been let off because she is a Tory.
- Said because the Deputy Speaker had allowed Theresa May to make a comment about the Prime Minister allegedly lying to the House because he interpreted it in a context Skinner didn't agree with.
- "Half the Tory members opposite are crooks." (Dennis is asked to withdraw this remark by the Speaker) "OK, half the Tory members aren't crooks."
- "Dennis Skinner quotes: the Beast of Bolsover in full flow". The Week. 25 February 2015. Retrieved on 19 February 2016.