Pity Storm Dennis will no longer rattle corridors of power, says Brain Reade

It’s time to batten down the hatches as Storm Dennis gears up to unleash gale-force chaos.

Up until last December, if I’d written that sentence it would have meant something far more exceptional than freak weather. It would have referenced the Beast of Bolsover savaging Tories in the Commons for their latest cruel, or shambolic, act.

But Dennis Skinner sadly lost his seat at the general election, meaning he won’t make it to his 50th anniversary as an MP, which was due in June, and we’ll never see such wit, honesty and dedication in a single parliamentarian again.

He’ll hate me for mentioning this as he sees no point in marking birthdays, but he was 88 this week.

I’m confident you’ll join me in wishing him all the best because in the 23 years I’ve been writing this column I’ve had more letters from readers expressing their love and admiration for Dennis than for any other person. Deservedly so.

During his time there, the former coal miner was present in the Commons every day it sat, unless his hip replacement, heart bypass or bladder cancer got in the way.

I’ve never met anyone so obsessed with turning up for work in parliament. I interviewed him there over the Christmas break in 1996 when he was the only MP in the ­virtually empty building. He told me Westminster was to him what the pit is to a miner. Where your honest toil earns you a crust.

It’s why he never had a drink in the bars because “men in factories can’t sup on the job”, or paired with a Tory MP because it was “organised absenteeism”.

Yet so many politicians who put in a fraction of Skinner’s service believe it’s their divine right, on leaving the Commons, to be handed a seat in the Lords, where they can carry on sucking on the taxpayers’ teats while giving off a whiff of power.

There was never any chance Dennis would go there. He wouldn’t even enter it for the Queen’s Speech, often telling that fella in the frilly tights where to stick his Black Rod.

Yet I would have loved it if Jeremy Corbyn, instead of ­recommending John Bercow and Tom Watson for peerages in his Dissolution Honours List, had put forward only Dennis Skinner. Knowing he would never have entertained it.

He’s so straight he refused to hold a passport so he couldn’t be lobbied to take a foreign freebie and never took a cup of tea from a journalist in case it was perceived as bribery.

So imagine him doing what these unelected cronies in the Lords have just done, handing themselves a 3.1% pay rise, thus taking their daily, tax-free allowance to £323.

That’s six quid more than the £317 a single person over 25 receives on Universal Credit, every month.

Had Dennis been offered a seat there, he would have been able to enjoy a rousing swansong, by making a speech outside Westminster denouncing everything that is wrong with the second biggest unelected chamber outside of communist China.

And shaming all those Labour ­politicians like Neil Kinnock and John Prescott, who, having castigated the Lords as corrupt, happily took the ermine-coated shilling.

Maybe, Jeremy, there’s still time.

It would be lovely to see Storm Dennis bow out creating maximum chaos.

Source: Read Full Article