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Dennis Skinner: Nature of the Beast


Stars: Dennis Skinner


He called former prime minister David Cameron “Dodgy Dave” several times. Offensive, perhaps, but hardly beastly. Ego may have been dented but no blood was shed.

First-time feature film director Daniel Draper explores socialist, trade unionist and labour MP Skinner’s life and political career in a documentary that took three years to make and is well worth it.

Skinner remark “I respect a lot of people’s views within the Labour Party – but not necessarily the leadership” faultlessly exemplifies Aristotle’s comment, “Man is a political animal".

Quote: “When posh boys are in trouble they sack the servants”.

Seeing and hearing Skinner tear into House of Commons members speaking pure propaganda is enjoyable, justifying his description of the Chamber as the Greasy pole in the Palace of Varieties and adding “I don’t want any part of it”.

Which this subject-adoring documentary fascinatingly proves.

Derbyshire-born in 1932, Skinner was one of nine siblings who provide fascinating evidence of his early life as a miner (“Solidarity you can’t buy anywhere else”), Derbyshire County Council member, local Clay Cross councillor, President of Derby Mine Workers Union and Ruskin College Oxford before election to Parliament in 1970 where he has been a member ever since.

“There’s one rule for those at the top and another for those at the bottom” he states in a worthy career during, proving his comment, “I don’t want to change …. I never will”.

Skinner may have been (wrongly) been dubbed destructive”. He’s a maverick, yes, but here definitely proved to be essentially “constructive” too – and deliciously ruse.

Quote: “Tell the House of Lords to go to hell”.

Like all of us, Skinner isn’t perfect. But as a unique individualist, conscience-driven politician, he is and has always been invaluable. It’s unfortunate that in the final analysis Draper settles for subject-worship and makes his crowd-funded ‘biography’ into an out-and-out hagiography.

Alan Frank

USA 2017. UK Distributor: insight. Colour.
120 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 07 Sep 2017