The Socialist

The Socialist 25 October 2017

Tories punish the poor

The Socialist issue 968

Socialists must back Catalan struggle for self-determination


1967 Abortion Act reflected social changes


Kurdish referendum declared illegal


Universal Credit chaos: Tories punish the poor

Fearful Tories mull borrowing to build

Kids wait 18 months for mental healthcare

Profit-driven pesticide use now threatens life

Profiteering NHS counter-fraud firm in alleged case of... fraud

Them & us

What we saw: May on Facebook


Aslef members must reject poor Southern Rail offer

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

NSSN meeting brings together workers in struggle

Manchester lecturers walk out


Hear from socialists involved in struggles the world over at the Socialism 2017 Saturday rally

Angry east London residents organise against threat to leisure centre

Trade unionists march to defend 650 local jobs

Bad Art's Leicester event

Storm Brian cannot withstand working-class anger


Well-deserved ridicule of Stalinism is impressive, funny but flawed

Film - Dennis Skinner: Nature of the Beast

New musical on life of Castro

The Socialist inbox

 
 
 
 
 

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Film - Dennis Skinner: Nature of the Beast

The class struggle and parliament: Dennis Skinner's ayes and nays

Dennis Skinner speaking at Durham Miners' Gala 2016, photo Paul Mattsson

Dennis Skinner speaking at Durham Miners' Gala 2016, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Tony Mulhearn Liverpool Socialist Party

This biopic on Dennis Skinner, directed by Liverpool's Dan Draper, portrays the whole individual.

In addition to his celebrated political abrasiveness when baiting the Tories and their institutions, his love of nature, singing - he's a natural for a good karaoke - and his love of walking in the great parks is brought to life.

The film is at its most riveting when it portrays his unequivocal rejection of Toryism, capitalist hypocrisy and inequality, and his identification with workers in struggle.

Standing firm with the dockers imprisoned in Pentonville for defying Tory prime minister Ted Heath's 1971 Industrial Relations Act.

Giving unequivocal support to the Clay Cross councillors when they defied Heath's Housing Finance Act.

Declaring in the Commons that he would be on miners' picket lines and donating his wages to the struggle. And implacably opposing the expulsion of Liverpool's socialist councillors.

Dennis used the parliamentary platform to expose to millions the crimes of capitalism and the virtues of socialist policies.

In one revealing clip he explains he never went on any all-party 'fact finding' foreign junket, saying the prospect of mixing socially with Tories and Liberals appalled him.

This seems like a man who never lost touch with his class. A miner who took the values of class solidarity into Westminster.

The film was mostly shot in 2014, before Jeremy Corbyn assumed his current authority. The absence of any reference to him gave the film an added strength.

Unlike many right-wing 'converts' to Corbynism, he maintained his radical statements even when the establishment considered it 'unpopular'.

However, without the checks and balances of party democracy - ripped up by former Labour leader Neil Kinnock and his acolytes - even some good class fighters can lose their socialist compass.

This is shown by a report in the Independent on 26 September 1998, headlined "Meet Tony Blair's newest new best friend: Dennis Skinner." It went on: "Tony Blair has found a new best friend.

"Dennis Skinner, the left-winger nicknamed the Beast of Bolsover, has become a surprising confidant of the prime minister.

"Downing Street has let it be known that Mr Blair would be delighted if Mr Skinner is, as expected, re-elected to Labour's ruling national executive committee this week.

"The MP for Bolsover, Derbyshire, a former miner, has become the unofficial link man between the prime minister and the so-called 'awkward squad' of left-wingers in the Commons.

"Mr Blair regularly telephones him for advice and invites him for tea in his parliamentary office. 'They get on very well,' a Downing Street source said. 'The prime minister has a very high opinion of Dennis - he's got a soft spot for him like we all do.

"'The Dennis Skinner of 1998 is not the Dennis Skinner of 1988 or 1978. He's become a lot more constructive in his outlook and approach'."

Subsequent events revealed to many on the left that any trust in Blair was a calamitous misjudgement.

Nevertheless, if Labour's 600,000 members are empowered to select parliamentary candidates of their choice, they could do worse than candidates who embrace the best of the values Dennis Skinner has defended for decades.

  • Socialism 2017 (11 and 12 November, central London)

Discussions include: 'Labour and the trade unions'

Rally speakers include: Ian Mearns, Corbynista MP

Find out more and book tickets at socialism2017.net

In this issue


What we think

Socialists must back Catalan struggle for self-determination


Women

1967 Abortion Act reflected social changes


International socialist news and analysis

Kurdish referendum declared illegal


Socialist Party news and analysis

Universal Credit chaos: Tories punish the poor

Fearful Tories mull borrowing to build

Kids wait 18 months for mental healthcare

Profit-driven pesticide use now threatens life

Profiteering NHS counter-fraud firm in alleged case of... fraud

Them & us

What we saw: May on Facebook


Workplace news and analysis

Aslef members must reject poor Southern Rail offer

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

NSSN meeting brings together workers in struggle

Manchester lecturers walk out


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Hear from socialists involved in struggles the world over at the Socialism 2017 Saturday rally

Angry east London residents organise against threat to leisure centre

Trade unionists march to defend 650 local jobs

Bad Art's Leicester event

Storm Brian cannot withstand working-class anger


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Well-deserved ridicule of Stalinism is impressive, funny but flawed

Film - Dennis Skinner: Nature of the Beast

New musical on life of Castro

The Socialist inbox


 

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