Veteran Labour politician Dennis Skinner is celebrating his 84th birthday February 11, 2016.
Your opinion of Mr Skinner is likely to be tainted by your political persuasion. If like this writer you are a bit of a leftie and a Labour supporter you could share a like of the so-called Beast of Bolsover.
Dennis has had a long political career but unlike some career politicians of today began his working life in the real world.
A coal miner and sport enthusiast he has become one of the most loved, hated, respected and maybe even despised people to work in the House of Commons; and yes in Mr Skinner's case it is work.
A lifelong active political career of activism it was fitting that a day ahead of his 2016 birthday celebration Mr Skinner told the Plymouth Herald;
"The NHS is a lifeline. I have had a heart bypass at Brompton hospital, I've been cured of cancer at Chelsea hospital and I've had a hip replaced. The reason I'm 84 tomorrow is because of the help of these doctors in London."
Mr Skinner's book, Sailing Close to the Wind, of what he has termed reminisces is great reading. It offers a glimpse into the life of Mr Skinner while allowing him to retain his privacy.
When in the book Skinner talks of singing to and with his elderly Mum who was lost to dementia you get a feel for a man who is sensitive and caring beneath what can sometimes appear to be a brusk exterior.
Mr Skinner has been the MP for Bolsover since 1970. That means there has been more than 40 years’ worth of entertaining political quotes uttered by Skinner in the Commons.
He may be past his best-before-date in the eyes of political opponents such as David Cameron but he remains a political animal. Some younger politicians, especially those on the opposite side of the House of Commons may choose to deride his words but he should never be ignored. One good way to describe Skinner would be like the famous John Wayne movie -- Dennis Skinner has True Grit.
Like or loathe him he is one politician who is hard to ignore and down the years he has been a source of amusement as well as a thorn in the side of successive Conservative Tory politicians. He even made his own 'side' grimace, especially when it was 'New Labour' with Tony Blair as leader.
Here are just a few of Mr Skinners' best quotes:
On the Tory Party:
He said "Half the Tory members opposite are crooks" and was told to withdraw the remark. He did and replaced it with "OK, half the Tory members aren’t crooks."
To Roy Jenkins, leader, Who Pronounced His Rs as Ws:
Roy said "I leave this party without rancour" to which Dennis replied "I thought you were taking Marquand with you."
On Tory Chancellor 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.
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.
This got him thrown out of the Parliamentary session.
Birthdays come and go but Dennis remains as passionate about politics as ever.
That means there has been more than 40 years’ worth of entertaining political quotes uttered by Skinner in the Commons.
June 18, 1984, "was the most bitter and infamous of the miners’ strike, with 8,000 pickets seeking to prevent lorries leaving the plant, near Rotherham, met by a 6,000-strong contingent of police drafted in from all over the country."
Such was the determination of Maggie Thatcher's government to crush the miners that money was no object. Police officers received overtime pay to swell the ranks of Northern forces; some were hardened officers who had worked on riot control in Toxteth and Brixton.
Police stand accused of using excessive force, assaulting miners, perverting the course of justice and committing perjury.
Sarah Green, the IPCC’s deputy chair, said Friday that they could not re-wind time. She stressed that if the events had happened more recently an investigation would have been likely but as many police staff and miners involved have moved on, retired or even died it was not possible now.
She said that if new compelling evidence resurfaced that could change. However if it is too late in 2015 how can it be possible at a date in the future?
Nagging doubts about whether today's announcement would have been different if Labour had won the election in May 2015 persist.
The UK has become used to seeing a series of old men dragged through the courts charged with sex offences that date back to the 80's and in some cases earlier.
In January 2014 revelations proved that Mrs Thatcher's Tory government of the 80s lied about the number of UK coal mines they wanted to close and indicated that miner's leader Arthur Scargill was right when he accused her government of having a "secret hit-list" of mines.
As we reported in 2014:
The government claimed the figure was 20 but in truth they planned to shut 75 mines over three years. In the UK during the 80's the governing Tory government did its utmost to smash the miner's unions. They succeeded.
In November 2013 BBC News online ran a report which used accounts from both sides of the 'battle'. The first is from a police perspective the second a mining one.
Former police officer John Vipond said the hot day led to cans of drink being given to officers."Just as you heard the click of the cans, the miners kicked off," he said.
Chris Skidmore was a 22-year-old miner from the Bullcliffe Wood pit in West Yorkshire when he arrived at Orgreave.
The conclusion has to be that decisions as to whether to investigate or not are politically motivated and selective.
Huge sums of money were spent by the government of the day to break the miners' strike. Those arrested feared long jail sentences for rioting.
If the police acted as a rogue force on the day and a corrupt service as they tried to jail some of the miners surely they should be held to account?
In June 2015 ww asked , if not now, when?
December 15, 2015, we ask, why now?
Note: The Orgreave Truth and Justice organisation said in June that the fight goes on and they will push for a public inquiry. They and the NUM hosted an open press conference in the NUM main hall at 2 Huddersfield Road, Barnsley S70 2LS.
Guardian- Police accused of 'breathtaking changes' to story of their search of man who died
Mock Thatcher funeral Goldthorpe, Yorkshire
Mr. Skinner shouted "No wonder they call him Dodgy Dave... A man who went to Eton.." The rest of the MP's pronouncements were drowned out by jeers as Speaker John Bercow tried desperately to restore order reports the Daily Mirror. "It's very good to see the Labour party in full voice cheering on Jurassic Park," joked David Cameron. "I would stick to the movie."
Cameron went to see the new Jurassic Park movie June 12 according to one person on Twitter who was sat behind him.
As feathers ruffled during the heated exchange once again Cameron referring to Skinners' age as a joke calling him 'Jurassic Park' is an abuse of power and position.
It was the hottest July day on record in the UK and surely an inappropriate time to bash an elderly man.
Local politician and former Labour Deputy PM John Prescott tweeted "So the UK Prime Minister resorts to ageism when asked about the closure of Hatfield colliery. Guy's got no class #pmqs."
But either way was Cameron right to verbally attack Skinner in the Commons Wednesday
If you can dish it out you should be able to take it but resorting to low blows Wednesday David Cameron proved he will never be anything more than an over-privileged spoiled brat and never an elder statesman in anything but years assuming he lives into old age.
Mr. Skinner is well-respected by many and is the Labour leader who never was. With his strong left-wing values and beliefs Labour chose others to become electable across the broad political spectrum of the UK.
He is a man of principles and reading his excellent biography Sailing Close to the Wind confirmed that. But also learning that he politely refused to meet privately with Prince Charles adds weight to that view.
As Dave Cameron tries to push people into working into ever older age, and appoints Lords and Ladies to sit in the second unelected house of parliament until they shuffle of this mortal coil why he has a problem with Mr. Skinner's age is not clear.
Our current monarch is older than Mr. Skinner and still in office so does Cameron refer to her as Jurassic Park we wonder?
Perhaps it is because Mr. Skinner has remained a thorn in the side of successive Tory PMs and opposition leaders and will continue to do so until he decides it is time to go; long may he stay.
When challenged; Cameron also resorts to name calling and becomes petty-but as we already said he is after all a spoiled brat.
Dennis Skinner, Beast of Bolsover, fab quotes
IPCC lets down miners, again