In Depth

Dennis Skinner quotes: the Beast of Bolsover in full flow

Few target have escaped the acid tongue of Dennis Skinner, a former miner and veteran Labour MP

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In his four and a half decades in the House of Commons, Dennis Skinner has become known as much for his acid wit as for his dedicated attendance in Parliament. His jokes and heckles during the Queen's Speech are now almost as established a part of proceedings as the presence of Black Rod himself, but while his interruptions sometimes provoke chuckle of appreciation on both sides of the house, he remains a standard bearer for Old Labour.

Here is a selection of the most celebrated Dennis Skinner quotations:

On the Conservatives

"Half the Tory members opposite are crooks."

When told to withdraw this remark by the Speaker: "OK, half the Tory members aren't crooks."

On George Osborne

"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 and the rest of them."

To Black Rod
  • 1987 "Tell her to sell up" – a reference to how the Queen could help the recession.
  • 1988 "Hey up, Here comes Puss In Boots!"
  • 1990 "I bet he drinks Carling Black Label."
  • 1992 "Tell her to pay her taxes!"
  • 2000 "Tell her to read the Guardian!" – at the time The Guardian was running a republican campaign.
  • 2005 "Has she brought Camilla with her?"
  • 2006 "Have you got Helen Mirren on standby?"
  • 2008 "Any Tory moles at the Palace?"
  • 2009 "Royal Expenses are on the way." – after the MPs' expenses scandal
  • 2013 "Royal Mail for sale. Queen’s head privatised."
In the House of Lords

"Tell the House Of Lords to go to hell"

On calling an MP a pompous sod

Speaker: "You had better withdraw that"Skinner: "I withdraw the word pompous"Speaker: "That's not the word I'm looking for"Skinner: "I can't withdraw both"

On Jeremy Hunt after his special advisor resigned

"When posh boys are in trouble they sack the servants"

To Roy Jenkins, who pronounced the letter R as a W

Jenkins: "I leave this party without rancour"Skinner: "I thought you were taking Marquand with you."

On being an MP

"I am proud to stand up for my class, to say publicly that I am from good working-class stock. I am proud to be a trade unionist, to be a member of the Labour Party and to be a socialist. I stick to my principles. I know no other way in politics. I make mistakes, everybody does. Nobody is perfect. I have no monopoly on the best way of being an MP. I try not to let anybody down. I've sailed close to the wind in my life but always for the good of the cause, to champion those at the bottom of the pile who deserve better."

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