Britain was plunged into a constitutional crisis this morning…as Dennis Skinner DID NOT heckle Black Rod before the Queen’s Speech.
The Labour firebrand’s quips are as traditional as Black Rod banging on the Commons door and the party leaders pretending they like each other on the walk to the House of Lords.
But this morning, the “Beast of Bolsover” stayed silent as Black Rod invited MPs to walk the short distance to the Lords to here the Queen read out the Government’s programme for the next Parliament,
It is unknown why Mr Skinner stayed silent, but it may be that his battle with new SNP MPs to keep his seat on the corner of the so-called ‘Rebel’s Bench’ distracted him from preparing a jibe.
It is the first time Mr Skinner has stayed silent since 2002.
From quoting poetry at Margaret Thatcher to questioning the Queen’s tax arrangements, here are nine of the Labour firebrand’s best jibes.
1990 – “It tolls for thee, Maggie.” Mr Skinner made the quip a week after Deputy Prime Minister Geoffrey Howe resigned from Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet. She stepped down as Tory leader within a month.
1992 – “Tell her to pay her tax!” The Queen agreed to pay income tax and capital gains tax for the first time in 1992, perhaps after this heckle from Mr Skinner.
1995 – “New Labour, New Black Rod.” Spoofing his party’s “New Labour, New Britain” slogan, Mr Skinner welcomed new Black Rod Sir Edward Jones to the ceremonial role.
2000 – “Tell her to read the Guardian.” The newspaper was campaigning to change laws relating to the monarchy, much to the approval of the Republican Dennis Skinner.
2001 – “You’re nowt but a midget!” Mr Skinner welcomed new Black Rod Michael Willcocks to the role.
2006 – “Have you got Helen Mirren on standby?”
Mr Skinner joked about the actress’s Oscar winning portrayal of the Queen
2012 – “Jubilee Year, double-dip recession, what a start!”
The Labour benches found this heckle amusing, but some on the Government side shouted “shame”.
2013 – “Royal Mail for sale. Queen’s head privatised.”
Mrs Thatcher famously quipped she was “not prepared to have the Queen’s head privatised”. Mr Skinner threw the quote back at the Tory-led Government as it embarked on selling off the Royal Mail
2014 – “Coalition’s last stand.”
Many thought Mr Skinner was guilty of wishful thinking when it made this remark in June 2104, with all the opinion polls pointing to a hung parliament in the next year’s General Election. He was right though, as the Tories won a surprise majority 11 months later.