Dennis Edward Skinner (born 11 February 1932) is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bolsover since 1970. Skinner became the longest continuously serving Labour MP on 16 December 2017. He was Chairman of the Labour Party for one year from 1988–89 and served as a member of Labour's National Executive Committee, with brief breaks, for thirty years.
In 1956, Skinner joined the Labour Party. He was first elected as MP for the safe Labour seat of Bolsover at the 1970 general election and has retained it ever since. He was a strong supporter of the National Union of Mineworkers and their leader Arthur Scargill in the 1984-85 miners' strike.
Skinner has voted for equalisation of the age of consent, civil partnerships, adoption rights for same-sex couples and to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and for same sex couples to marry, and has a strongly pro-choice stance on abortion.
In 2000, Skinner denounced former ally Ken Livingstone, then serving as a Labour MP. Livingstone had failed to win the party's nomination to be a candidate for Mayor of London, and had then decided to run as an independent candidate instead, urging his supporters to help Green Party candidates get elected. Skinner said that Livingstone had betrayed Labour Party activists in his Brent East constituency, whom he described as having fought for him "like tigers" when his majority had been small: "He tells them he's going to be the Labour candidate, then he lies to them. To me that's as low as you can get". He contrasted Livingstone with the official Labour candidate, Frank Dobson, saying that Dobson was "a bloke and a half... not a prima donna ... not someone with an ego as big as a house". Skinner said Livingstone would "hit the headlines, but you'll never be able to trust him because he's broken his pledge and his loyalty to his party... The personality cult of the ego does not work down a coal mine and it does not work in the Labour Party". Conversely, despite his left-wing views Skinner had a positive relationship with Prime Minister Tony Blair, a leading figure on the right of the party, stemming from advice that Skinner gave Blair regarding public speaking.
In 2003, Skinner was among the quarter of Labour MPs who voted against the Iraq War; he later rebelled against the party line when he voted against government policy to allow terror suspects to be detained without trial for ninety days. In 2007, Skinner and 88 other Labour MPs voted against the Labour government's policy of renewing the Trident Nuclear Missile System.
In 2014, he was voted off Labour's national executive committee.
Skinner was one of 36 Labour MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate in the Labour leadership election of 2015. He later supported Corbyn, alongside the majority of Labour MPs, in voting against the extension of RAF airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria on Wednesday 2 December 2015.
Skinner voted for Britain to leave the European Union. He favours outright abolition of the House of Lords.
Skinner has been suspended from Parliament on at least ten occasions, usually for "unparliamentary language" when attacking opponents. Notable infractions have included:
- Twice in 1984 once for calling David Owen a "pompous sod" (and only agreeing to withdraw "pompous"), and the second time for stating Thatcher would bribe judges.
- In 1992, referring to the Minister of Agriculture John Gummer as a "little squirt of a Minister" and a "slimy wart on Margaret Thatcher's nose".
- In 1995, accusing the Major government of a "crooked deal" to sell off Britain's coal mines.
- In 2005, when referring to the economic record of the Conservatives in the 1980s, making the remark, "The only thing that was growing then were the lines of coke in front of boy George and the rest of the Tories", a reference to allegations originally published in the Sunday Mirror of cocaine use by the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne (though, in the Commons, Skinner referred to the News of the World).
- In 2006, accusing Deputy Speaker Sir Alan Haselhurst of leniency towards remarks made by opposition frontbencher and future Prime Minister Theresa May "because she's a Tory".
- In 2016, for referring to Prime Minister David Cameron as "Dodgy Dave" in relation to Cameron's tax affairs.