Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner DOESN’T heckle Black Rod – because he’s got “other things on his mind”

The Beast of Bolsover.
The Beast of Bolsover.

Firebrand Labour MP Dennis Skinner did not heckle Black Rod ahead of the Queen’s Speech – because he had “other things on his mind”.

The 83-year-old former miner – who has represented Bolsover since 1970 – has a record of shouting out a witty remark when House of Lords official Black Rod enters the Commons to summon MPs to hear the Queen open a new session of Parliament.

But on Wednesday, Mr Skinner – who last year quipped “coalition’s last stand” – stayed silent in an unusual break from tradition which disappointed expectant politicians, commentators and TV viewers.

Explaining his decision to the Daily Mirror, Mr Skinner said: “I’ve got bigger fish to fry than uttering something.

“I’ve been fighting some other battles, haven’t I? I was fighting the Scottish nationalists single-handed for a while.”

He said he survived “a big battle” to cling on to his favoured seat on the green benches in the Commons – which SNP politicians want to sit on.

The party – which seized 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats at the election – made snatching Mr Skinner’s spot one of its early Commons priorities.

But Mr Skinner fumed: “Why should they be on that bench?”

The last time he kept his lips sealed at the crucial moment was 2002.