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A tale of two Parliamentarians – Skinner and Gove

Posted on 18 January 2012 | 4:01pm

Dennis Skinner may not thank me for saying so, but he was a huge support to me, and more importantly to Tony Blair, when TB was Prime Minister.

Yes, he lambasted some of the changes made as huge strides to the right, and he could come up with questions for TB at PMQs  every bit as difficult as the ones he lobs at David Cameron.

But he was undeniably tribally Labour, and had a huge regard for Tony’s political and leadership skills. He was also someone who knew when to pick up the phone and say, as he fairly regularly did to me, ‘don’t worry about all the stuff they’re chucking at you. Just keep going.’

Dennis will need someone to explain to him what ‘trending on twitter’ means, and when they do he will be quietly pleased. He likes to be noticed because he likes to make a fuss and he likes to make a difference.

That he is trending on twitter at all suggests Cameron may have picked on the wrong target in branding Dennis a dinosaur. For a start, it looks and sounds a bit ageist. More, it shows yet again how easy it is to get under his skin. But it is also overly dismissive of someone who is recognised on all sides as a character who stands for something, and is scared of nobody. So Dinosaur 1 Flashman 0.

Now as for Mr Michael Gove … he is not a dinosaur but he does seem like something from another age. Fresh from getting himself embroiled in prioritising Royal yachts now we read he wants to send personally signed copies of the King James Bible to every school in the country.

Gove’s entire approach to education is founded upon a mythical middle England idyllic upbringing. It reminds me of John Major’s old maids cycling to cricket matches. Remember that? Remember him?

But I wonder if he should not be spending more time on the kind of thing parents and students might see as priorities. School buildings for example. As in the Building Schools for the Future programme he scrapped so he could focus on other priorities.

er … like yachts and signed Bibles?

  • Sean Davies

    Gove is so far behind on everything!! Scrapping school sports and then suggesting a royal Yacht! And sending a signed bible to every school? Who does he think he is? As far as I can tell from my third year sports degree at University, he is universally the most disliked Politician in Westminster at the moment. He is not a dinosaur, he is just an insect living in prehistoric times.

  • Chris lancashire

    Yes, I remember Major. A reasonably decent man – for a politician – in stark contrast to his immediate successor.

  • Dan

    Is there a possibility that Gove is using yacht and bible stories to draw attention away from horrors such as record unemployment?

  • Badabing

    Who is Michael Gove’s political advisor; Paul Dacre?

  • Mabozza Ritchie

    Gove is just ensuring he gets an invite to the next Royal wedding.

    My wife was stunned into a rare moment of silence when she heard Flashman make the dinosaur crack. She then said “He’ll regret that”.

    More to the point, I was disappointed with Ed M today. Cameron talking about U-turns was surely an open goal, given this government’s record.  Why didn’t Ed hit him with NHS, Forests, and Justice U-turns to name just a few?  Instead he let Cameron score easy points. Very poor, imho.

  • Gillian C.

    I’ve always liked Dennis Skinner, he’s proper old-school Labour.
    Someone once said he treats his job as an MP rather like a factory worker sees his job and turns up to do his shift come hell or high water.  He can also be very amusing at times and always looks well groomed.  Maybe he should be given a long-service award or something by the Labour Party.

  • I can not fathom how some people appear to learn nothing from their own lives and experiences yet alone that of the many others that they must surely encounter in their very public lives.
    Mr Gove is a good example of this.
    He seems intent on imposing an excluding and exclusive model of education that is pernicious and crushes the aspirations of many, most especially the poor.
    The relevance of arcane language to today’s school children is less than peripheral to their lives. Their are so many ways in which he could foster a love of language – I would be delighted if he were to push for that. This is surely not one of them.
    I can not relate to Mr Gove at all nor see humanity in his motivation.
    My twin sons are extremely fortu

  • Something happened there – I was aiming to express that our small Pennine town is extremely fortunate to have a brand new school recently built under the government programme.
    I remind my sons of the six years I taught in a temporary classroom in a school car park – we had 14 such huts there. Their cousins in the Cotswolds are not so fortunate – under Mr Gove there is no chance of that changing – they may get a signed book as booby prize and Mrs Windsor may win a boat for free.
    I do not understand these values.

  • Kevin Cochrane

    Gove is our local MP and smells fishy. Aside from acting as a Trustee for an illegal operation – Atlantic Bridge ( and a good friend of Werrity – Gove also enjoys donations from some very rum characters whose interest in UK educational issues appear odd e.g. Kazachkstan lobby groups. He was one of the worse Expenses offenders – less than two after becoming an MP  – and he takes a lot of money from that well known criminal outfit, News International.

    Surrey Heath, Gove’s constituency, is a rotten borough. Property developers and business all enjoy a very cosy relationship with local Tory councillors. All in all Gove needs keeping an eye. 

  • Anonymous

    I remember Major, before him we thought monetary union would be a disaster, after him we knew for sure!

    I like Skinner and Gove.

    Gove is a good thinker but on education we need discipline and we need parental choice. Andrew Neil has a great interview with Cameron, he leads Cameron into the trap. Cameron says he doesn’t want kids separated by ability at age 11 into sheep and goats. Neil says well then why do you allow private schools so they can be separate into wealthy sheep and poor goats. There just isn’t an answer for that, Cameron was snookered.

    I think we should have selection based on behaviour. Mum can get upset if wee Johnny is excluded based on intelligence – but if he gets a chance to go to school/class with intelligent kids and bullies them or disrupts their class, then he can’t complain.

  • Graham C

    Young Willy Hague? ’nuff said.

  • Tom Brown

    Spot on, as ever, but I’m not sure if Gove is something from another age so much as someone who is very mixed up and full of some pretty weird ideas indeed. I never forgot him on an Any Questions? panel a few years ago when he complained about EU regulation – for example preventing us from “burying more rubbish in landfill, which is what we’ve traditionally done”. That said it all for me about the spidery workings of Gove’s mind.

  • Shawlrat

    For the first time ever, I contacted the PM’s office today regarding his cheap shot at Dennis Skinner’s legitimate question at PMQ.
    What sort of a PM thinks that’s any way to behave and also to involve his children in it? ( no response required!! )

  • Michele

    It seems from comments so far that not many have yet had the privilege of seeing Cameron in what has become the circus of PMQs swipe aside a very important question from Dennis Skinner with pathetically crass reference to him as a dinosaur.
    It teaches us something about how Camsham might actually be bringing up his sprogs (pretty much as he was).
    It was another lesson in capital d for Dismissive.
    John Bercow should be held to account for not only tolerating it but showing his teeth.
    I hope no other senior MPs were offended by a pretty clumsy value judgement and I hope Baroness Trumpington will flick more than a Vsign at Camsham if she gets the chance.

    Gove used to be OK when he was a journalist; pretty fair when he was on Moral Maze.  He’s become a destructive phart and I wonder who’s pulling his strings.

  • Ehtch

    Dennis Skiner? N=My god, he is H of C hero, couldn’t give an arse who he speaks to in the house. As for Gove, he is sadly a total tool, and playing a chancer act these days. He is a c do-dah t, totally. Here is Gove trying to be a comedian, cringe or what!
    sad fuckah

  • Chris lancashire

    I do apologise Graham C, for the slower witted – as PM of course.

  • Gilliebc

    I think Gove is a very strange man.  Maybe he tries too hard to be all things to all men.  It’s said he modeled  himself on TB, surely anyone sure of himself wouldn’t need to model himself on anyone else?  He could be a basically decent bloke I suppose, I don’t know.  I can’t get past his weirdness.

  • Michele

    I don ‘t think the Queen is Mrs Windsor but anyway ….. she doesn’t own the present Britannia and I doubt will own its successor if there is one.  She gets to ride in it when someone else decides she should, as do groups of salesmen and potential customers who might be discussing armaments or other industrial items of the few types we still make.

    Other people get to go on board if that’s their thing :

    I don’t know whether the US has a Presidential vessel but …… where was I?  Oh, bored about prejudice aimed at one person because of another’s obsequious opportunism (Gove’s, no need for you to feel offended).

  • Michele

    I never used to like the use of ‘owned’ re toadies but it’s perfect for Gove and what’s become of him.

  • Libdem

    What’s all this nonsense about new buildings for schools? Do they actually make the teaching any more effective, do they suddenly turn disruptive pupils into exemplary students?

    I know nothing about Gove but the one obvious point is that school standards are pathetic and something needs to change.

  • Libdem

    Isn’t being ‘tribally Labour’ probably the reason that Cameron uttered this ‘ageist’ phrase. I have to say Alastair, yet more ‘ist’ politically correct nonsense!

    • Michele

      Can you explain the perceived linkage or is that nonsensical input attributable only to your tribe having been bought?

  • Ilc

    sorry about the cheap joke
    I know that Gove wants to wind back the curriculum, especially the History curriculum, but how is he going to get King James to sign each Bible?

    Who would want a blble signed by Gove, the Gideons?

    What’s Gove got to do with it
    She Goves You, Yeah Yeah Yeah
    Gove Changes Everthing

  • Paul

    Every now and then Cameron seems to revert to ‘bullingdon bully’ mode and I sense it’s because he feels rattled. I’m by no means a fan of Mr Skinner but I felt his question was a good one and I’m baffled as to why Cameron couldn’t answer normally without the comment at the end. TB used to win PMQ’s with strong policy responses and the facts. DC seems to think he can win PMQ’s with digs and jibes.

  • Michele

    Off on a tangent as usual; I’m getting sick to the back teeth of the good cop bad cop pretence between Dave and Boris.

    I’m against HS2, I think it’s the wrong way round.  I spent years going to Birmingham more than once a week and the longest part of the journey was and still is the one to Euston; from there to NEC or New St was a doddle.  Surely it’s Manchester or Leeds that need linking first and the Y shape is wrong?  There is no need to carve up the Cotswolds for years or indulge its inhabitants with a sodding tunnel.

    As to the joker’s ambition for another airport being in the Thames estuary methinks these people have shares they can’t move.  We have Stansted, we have Dover, we have Docklands, we have speed of light links already to central London or Canary Wharf, we don’t need bizarre pressures put in the Thames barrier area ….. deep breath, ffs.

  • Dave Simons

    The dinosaur jibe has been around for a few decades – usually people who are themselves stuck in a nineteenth century capitalist time warp throw it at TUC leaders or Labour MPs like Dennis Skinner. Dinosaurs were around for quite a long time and their extinction was probably not caused by their size or stupidity – but people who use the dinosaur jibe aren’t much interested in historical or scientific accuracy and other such sentimentalities. Cameron is typical, always playing to an audience, void of any kind of originality and freshness of approach, narrow in sympathies. Last time I was in the House of Commons I listened to a debate on the NHS led by Andrew Lansley, and Dennis Skinner made the liveliest contribution to the debate. I bumped into him in the street later and was able to thank him directly. I hope he reads this blog.

  • Dave Simons

    What on earth was such a reasonably decent man doing in the party of toffs and swindlers?

  • Michele

    I think that even infants are capable of knowing when they are valued enough to feel self worth.
    My family’s experience of Primary school in the late 80s /early 90s after a decade of Snatcher was leaking roofs, no playground equipment, a class one year that numbered 52 and no books at all, just consumer catalogues.

    Perhaps you don’t know of what you speak, you wish and hope they had done better so you can continue believing in the ‘coalition’ (aka: LDs being used).

    You know nothing about Gove?  So what the heck qualifies you to use ‘obvious’.  

  • Anonymous

    Quick shout out for Alastair and showing the good that can be done by politicians even in cynical times.
    Has anyone noticed on Twitter Alastair has offered to help the guy who was sacked for admitting he had depression.

    Now… if I was the boss, or the company, that had done this and I heard Alastair Campbell was coming after me, even if just to make a bit of noise – I’d be bricking it!

    The dark lords of the dark arts of publicity are coming after this company, be afraid, be very afraid!

  • Sarah Dodds

    Yesterday Cameron showed himself yet again to be shallow, vague, and arrogant. I am not sure that he is cruel by nature, but by being all  the other 3 he becomes that way by default.
    As for Gove, if I was was Cameron I would be watching him like a hawk. He is clearly madly ambitious and his short time at the DE shows that he takes no prisoners. I am sure that he would not bat an eyelid at sticking a knife into Cameron if he thought it was a) desirable b) in his own interest.
    How do I know? Because I am a teacher and he has stuck the knife straight in the front without so much as a flinch time and time again.

  • Richard

    I know what you mean. Weird: Principled. Lucid. Consistent. Unhappy with our “everybody gets a cigar” education system. Just plain weird to you.
    “It’s said he modeled himself on TB.” By whom? Not a Labour enthusiast I suppose? Perhaps more Balls.

  • Richard

    Nothing to say on the contribution of Ed M? He is the elephant in the room.
    I think Dinosaurs have had a very bad press and have the highest regard for The Beast. Like Austin Mitchell and Wedgie Benn he has never changed from his Old Labour beliefs.
    Modernisation is over and the party is now turning sharp left. The Beast for shadow chancellor!

  • Michele

    Been a’googlin’

    Right DS and I hadn’t realised that The Sham had also used the jibe at the other DS before (and kind of invokes his children here too):

    This clip of another PMQs suggests why THE sham might have been so upset yesterday by another Q about Murdock/Leveson   
    The gesture that Cameron is mithering about near the end is simply Skinner applauding.  On this occasion the squeaker did call for order (how different to his indulgence of his master yesterday).

  • Patricia Shepherd

    Dennis Skinner is my hero,always has been and when Cameron made that comment to him I felt like chucking a brick at the telly.
       As for Gove,the nasty litle weasel ,he was on the politics show on sunday with Andrew Neil ,discussing free schools and those that were opposed to it. Gove dismissed the opponents with a comment that you only get the trotts opposing them,when Neil pointed out that he was at one time one of those trotts he was incensed at the thought that he was one of ‘those’.

  • Libdem

    Why bother when you’ll pervert whatever is said to suit your own purpose?

  • Libdem

    So, new school buildings make infants believe that they’re valued? Get off your soapbox for once and at least attempt to talk some sense….ah thought not, it’s impossible for you isn’t it?

    You believe school standards are acceptable after 13 years of Labour,,,,why am I not surprised?

  • Michele

    ofgs, eugh and bleugh I rolled over ‘liked’ jeeeeeez

    Not posting what I was about to anyway, the ad hominem addict isn’t worth it.

  • Michele

    I should clarify here that I was not advocating more air passengers/travel, merely pointing out that very fast train links already exist from our airports, we don’t need everyone that wants to get to Birmingham to have to do it via London.

    Myself and other locals waiting during commuter hours at our stations for stopping trains to inner London have to swallow many expletives when our services are delayed to allow stacked up Eurostar trains to go through, one after the other and usually half-empty at that time of day.

    I honestly don’t get the HS2 thing, unless there are plans for businesses or other offices to be moved oop country.

  • Michele

    Wimp 🙂

  • Michele

    I know they are better. 
    Explain YOUR own first-hand experience if there is any.

  • Morbius_4035

    I’d like to know, is the Queen in a position to accept or decline this boat? Is she aware that, potentially, it’s the most alienating thing since Princess D and she’s being railroaded.

  • E Abbott

    If Gove were not in a place where he could dangerously fiddle with the dashboard of education, I would say he is the epitome of Nincompoop.

  • Gilliebc

    Libdem, maybe you don’t have children or grandchildren but I can tell you that the schools were in a very bad way after 18 years of a Tory Government.  Labour did a great deal of good for both schools and hospitals.  That isn’t just my opinion, that is a fact.

    The fact that my two young grandchildren are now receiving a good (state) education in good surroundings from very good and dedicated teachers is something I am thankful for.  It worries me that this ConDem government will allow these schools to become neglected once again and the teachers to become undervalued and demoralised just as before.  The signs are there already that this is more than likely to happen all over again.

  • Gilliebc

    No, you do not know what I mean.  I certainly wouldn’t credit Gove with any of the attributes that you have. And I am certainly not in favour of a prize for everyone type of system, as you would know if you read people’s comments properly.

    I am pretty sure that it was Gove himself that ‘let it be known’ that he admired TB and had modeled himself upon him, hoping no doubt to curry favour with TB supporters.

  • Michele

    I was curious about how the Tories had almost doubled their votes between ’05-10 and wondered if it was down to boundary changes but it could have been more down to their new candidate for ’10, one Lee Rowley. 

    Why a Westminster councillor would be standing for MP for Bolsover is anyone’s guess but this particular one transpires to have been part of the crazy and ultimately abortive plans for night time parking fees.  Nearly £300k-worth of street signage has been wasted by that team jumping the gun just a little.
    I’ve not heard anything about that in the otherwise fairly heavy coverage about the parking idea being defeated.

  • Michele

    Nah, he just subscribes very heavily to the ‘everyone claims the max allowable per item’ maxim. 

    Sarah (best friends with Sam) and Mike/Mick/Mr Gove furnished one or other of their homes before or after flipping (keeping up?) at Sam’s Mum’s shop.

  • Libdem

    So in your terminology, ‘better’ equates to acceptable does it? You’re like a dog with a bone but with less substance….

  • Libdem

    Prefer more realist in your case…..

  • Richard

    C/F Messrs Balls & Cooper. Where it comes to snouts in troughs, you are in a greenhouse. Put down the stones and stick to the politics.

  • Richard

    You are overextending your vocabulary there. Why do you not debate the issues raised by others?

  • Michele

    Like I said at the start of this ‘exchange/cache’, CAN you explain your sycophancy, that grovelling ‘quality’ that allowed you to indulge in a ‘probably’ to excuse your excusing of an overgrown brat for mocking a responsible worker (not to mention his info to us aboiut how he is ‘nurturing’ his product?

    Or can you NOT?

  • Michele

    I want me Mam, Maaaaaaaam, Libdem’s chasing me. S/he must have had some coffee.

    Data needed; DO you have first hand experience of schools as they were in the late 80s / early 90s and how they changed very quickly afterwards or do you NOT?  Advise.

    Do you work or try to work in conditions such as those I described from MY first hand experience?  Have you experience of fundraising to try to improve such poor provision?  YOU are are not qualified to spout about or extrapolate re my use of ‘better’ re children’s working conditions or link comments about the value of imbuing children with the feeling that they ARE valued vs: the disgusting spite with which they are now being offloaded to any spiv napoleonic wannabe.

  • Libdem

    Can you explain why you always resort to insults? Or are you really Damian McBride in disguise?

  • Libdem

    My only advice to you Michele is that you calm down…you’re ranting and raving…and spouting…I’m sure you can fill in the blanks…

  • Libdem

    Gilliebc, I do have children and I can say in my experience the fabric of the school doesn’t determine how good the Head and staff are. Obviously, it makes for a ‘better’ experience if the school buildings are modern and fully equipped but that is not the be all and end all of the children’s education.

    I agree that Labour invested a lot of our money in schools and hospitals sadly, this does not guarantee enhanced education or medical provision.

  • Bernie

    Bollocks. My kids have a great primary school, a great secondary to be heading off to after that, and we’ve got a wonderful new hospital if any of us fall ill.

    Better, enhanced, guaranteed. All good until you lot got in.

    It’s no surprise. What would a LibDem know about enhancing anything?

  • Michele

    Nose, out.

  • Michele

    No ranting or  raving Libdem.

    You did your little hoops and ringlets running off thread yesterday and now you’re indulging in nothing more than evasion.

  • Michele

    I believe Gove was near the top of the list for amounts claimed.  Look at your post to which I was replying and get to understand ‘on topic’ (with its cache if not with the blog).

    You made claims about Gove’s character.  He knows nothing about his real mother’s circumstances and why she had (or didn’t have) to give him up yet he announces publicly that he wants to know nothing about her.
    Principled?  Maybe in the book according to R (one I hope will never be passed around).

  • Michele

    Just get on with it Libdem; these were your words …
    …….. Isn’t being ‘tribally Labour’ probably the reason that Cameron uttered this ‘ageist’ phrase…….

    Understood the ‘probably’ in there?  Why guess about a spoiled brat’s rudeness to a colleague (let alone the boastful exploitation of his children to make his cheap crack).
    I simply asked you why you would defend such behaviour.

    You’re worried I’ll ‘pervert’ your response.  Oh LOL.

  • Michele

    The fabric of schools can have an effect on who applies to work there. 
    You know what happened to a school in Lambeth shortly after Letwyn spouted about it as the nearest but unacceptable local for his own children.  
    Working conditions and reputation do matter to most employees once they’ve grown out of starry-eyed idealism and got used to having bills to pay.
    The school site I mention above has finally been sold by Lambeth, I do hope that didn’t happen when it did as a means to thwart KB-S and her ambitions to open a free school there.
    Daily surroundings, clean classroom conditions and WCs, closed roofs, class sizes, uniforms and owning and belonging to their school and having BOOKS and reading hours (all of which started to happen within months of May 1997 did matter to staffs as well as to children). 
    Like Gbc I have experience of it before ’97 (and right from the mid 80s) and there is no comparison, your whimsical defence is sheer guesswork and simply argument for the sake of arguing.

  • Michele

    Oh for heaven’s sake, GPs wouldn’t even advise Govt how many patients they had on their lists or how many they saw per session right up to the start of this century. 
    Waiting lists were months long, you really are pulling examples from the air aboout which you have NO experience.
    You have an ID to live up to, poor you.

  • Gilliebc

    I hear what you’re saying Libdem and there is of course more than a grain of truth in it.

    I was educated in very basic surroundings and conditions but the education we received was excellent.

    I guess though that we all want better for our offspring.  In my days of education teachers were highly regarded in the community as professional people, I don’t think that same level of respect applies these days.  I think generally speaking teachers are much ‘nicer’
    nowadays to the children which is good, up to a point.  However, I don’t believe that messing about with their pensions is a good idea for either the teachers or their pupils.

    I would just finally add that in my day we always had plenty of books and all the other necessities to learn with and from.  During the Tory years in the 1980’s- 97, as I understand it some schools didn’t even have those essential basic requirements!  I wouldn’t like to see a return to that sort of unacceptable situation, I can’t imagine anyone would.

  • Libdem

    Sadly, nothing is guaranteed, this is the myth that Labour wants to perpetuate amongst its supporters. It will look after all of your needs for you and your offspring for the rest of eternity; bollocks.

  • Libdem

    You’re of course right Gillie, the lack of respect of almost everyone is now common in society. Messing about with anyone’s pension is not a clever thing to do for either the govt or private organisations. But we cannot have private organisations curtailing pension schemes and not expect the govt to reduce the pension costs of the state.

    Nobody would like a return to the 80’s-90’s in any respect either for education or hospitals.

  • Libdem

    Let’s have a review…that was GB’s answer to everything and when the review’s finished let’s throw as much money at it as possible…or even better appoint some managers…yes as many as you like…it’s only the taxpayers picking up the tab…and we all know they’re a bigoted and ignorant shower…

  • Libdem

    I think you’ll find that you’re the one who started the disagreement but then again you have never been one to let the facts get in the way of a ‘good’ fictional story have you?