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.