Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The Beast of Bolsover

THE LABOUR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT for Bolsover (Derbyshire), Dennis Skinner, can be a real amusing albeit nasty piece of work. As an avowed trade unionist and a traditional socialist, he remains rabidly class-based in his politics. His passion, his syntax, his body language, his comportment and dress, embody the style of the classic working class. In a movement now mostly led by middle-class professionals, he sits as the Labour front bench's token proletarian and Ruskin.

His irreverence for monarchy is legendary, having on a number of occasions hurled sarcastic abuse at Her Majesty and her Black Rod from the safety and impunity of his Commons seat. "Pay your taxes", Queen (1992); "Tell her to read the Guardian!" (2000); "Bar the doors" to the Black Rod, Speaker (2003); "Tell the House of Lords to go to hell." (2004); "Has she brought Camilla with her?" (2005); "Is Helen Mirren on standby?" (2006); "Who killed the Harriers?" (2007). As Matthew Parris of The Times puts it, he has "an instinctive ability to interrupt, to wisecrack on the instant and to sustain working class harangues against the establishment."

He gained his sobriquet "the Beast of Bolsover" for his anti-monarchist buffoonery and for falling foul of the procedures of Parliament, many of which are in his view archaic and contemptible. He has been an MP since 1970, and in all that time never once witnessed the State Opening of Parliament or heard the Queen's Speech. The whole idea of the Crown and the Lords offends him deeply, so much so that he can't bear the thought of assembling in the upper chamber with his parliamentary colleagues to open the session. To the amusement of his colleagues, he prefers to pout in the Commons all by his lonesome, while the Queen conducts the ceremonial business of the nation in the Lords. Skipping the day is obviously not an option for this MP; it goes against his proud "working-class" sensibilities and assiduous attendance record.

In addition to never attending the Queen's Address with his parliamentary colleagues for the past 37 years, he has never once been a member of an All-Party Parliamentary Group or travelled with other parliamentarians on political or non-partisan business; apparently never ate alongside parliamentary colleagues in the Commons dining room or drank in the Commons bar. Avoidant personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder or whatever disorder, social ineptitude of any form is a strange malfunction for a professional politician. A misdiagnosed theory perhaps, but a rebel MP on the "Awkward Squad Bench" who is occasionally an entertaining figure of Parliament, he most certainly is. Unfortunately for theatre-goers, he now assumes the role of a 21st century endangered species, along with the rapidly and thankfully receding notion that there still exists such a thing as a "working-class".


Neil Welton said...

Surely this Beast be a beauty. For he add colour, character and spark to our lives. He also serves an important and useful purpose - turning republicans to jokers that can't harm.