Scab la­bel pour­ing salt into the wound

Daily Mirror - - NEWS -

I WAS puz­zled by the story about a cou­ple hav­ing their first row in 83 years of marriage.

How did 105-year-old Mau­rice Kaye and his 104-year-old wife He­len man­age more than eight decades with­out ar­gu­ing when most of us have so many bar­neys we’ve got Re­late on speed-dial af­ter eight weeks?

But when I read what they’d fi­nally ar­gued about, it came as no sur­prise: Brexit. That fes­ter­ing wound which seeps into ev­ery as­pect of public de­bate and has di­vided more fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties than any­thing since the min­ers’ strike. For those too young to re­mem­ber the mid-80s, that bloody dis­pute brought the coun­try to the brink of civil war, with pitched bat­tles on picket lines and the streets of pit towns. To­day’s Brexit scraps mostly oc­cur in the me­dia but have the same air of vi­o­lence. Take Ge­orge Os­borne telling friends he won’t rest un­til Theresa May, who sacked him over his failed role in the EU ref­er­en­dum, “is chopped up in bags in my freezer”. Now there’s a slasher film which would break box of­fice records. But, just as no one could have fore­cast our fu­tures rest­ing in the hands of an ab­ject medi­ocrity like David Davis, who’d have guessed Gideon Os­borne would turn into Han­ni­bal Lecter? And who’d have imag­ined that when Den­nis Skin­ner voted in favour of the EU With­drawal Bill, cer­tain en­raged left-wingers on Twit­ter would call for his de-se­lec­tion and the chang­ing of his moniker from The Beast of Bolsover to The Scab of Bolsover? As sac­ri­leges go, that’s up there with call­ing Mother Teresa “The Devil of Cal­cutta”. It’s a mis­guided slur on one of the most prin­ci­pled so­cial­ist MPs Bri­tain’s ever seen and any hard­line Cor­byn sup­porter who screams treach­ery at Skin­ner for de­fy­ing the party whip needs to go for an irony check-up.

Even though, as a staunch Re­mainer, I dis­agree com­pletely with Skin­ner’s stance on Brexit, it is a stance he has main­tained, like Tony Benn, all of his po­lit­i­cal life.

This was how he hit back at claims of be­ing a “Red Tory” traitor: “I’ve stayed the same for over 40 years. Be­ing against the EU has been in ev­ery one of the Gen­eral Elec­tion ad­dresses I’ve sent out to my con­stituents. I think I’m the only MP who’s voted against ev­ery treaty.”

Putting the word scab within 100 miles of Skin­ner is like us­ing grafter in a sen­tence about Prince An­drew. Not least be­cause that word came into its most pop­u­lar us­age dur­ing the min­ers’ strike when Skin­ner do­nated his MP wages to the strike fund for a year, spoke at more than 300 ral­lies and was thrown out of the Com­mons for call­ing judges who jailed min­ers “bent”.

Skin­ner is the most in­cor­rupt­ible man I’ve ever met. When he en­tered West­min­ster, he made three pledges to him­self: Never pair with a Tory be­cause it’s “or­gan­ised tru­ancy”, don’t ac­cept for­eign jun­kets and don’t fre­quent West­min­ster bars be­cause fac­tory work­ers can’t work and drink at the same time.

More than 47 years later, he’s yet to break one of them.

That any­one on the left should see the mag­nif­i­cent Beast as a Scab proves be­yond doubt that Brexit is in­deed turn­ing this coun­try into a mad­house.

Skin­ner is the most prin­ci­pled man I’ve ever met

IN­COR­RUPT­IBLE Den­nis Skin­ner

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