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27 May 2015

Queen’s Speech 2015: Dennis Skinner breaks tradition and stays silent

Dennis Skinner declined to make his traditional heckle upon Black Rod entering the Commons. But here's a collection of his most memorable Queen's Speech interjections over the years.

By New Statesman

The “Beast of Bolsover” and veteran of the Labour benches Dennis Skinner’s jokes during the State Opening of Parliament have become a tradition as entrenched as Black Rod’s knocking (albeit louder and more raucous).

But today, he remained silent, following Black Rod entering the Commons and summoning MPs to hear the Queen in the House of Lords. His reason? He was too tired. Skinner is getting up at the crack of dawn to ensure he takes his usual seat in the Commons, which the new SNP MPs have been trying to reserve since arriving. He told the Telegraph: “You have to get up very early in the morning to do it. I was up at just after 6 o’clock and I had to do it yesterday.”

If you want to watch a medley of his past interjections, click here. And here’s a rundown of some of his greatest heckles over the years:

2014

“Coalition’s last stand.”

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2013

“Royal Mail for sale. Queen’s head privatised.”

2012

“Jubilee year, double dip recession, what a start,” shouted Skinner, prompting cries of “shame!” from Tory MPs. 

2009

As Black Rod arrived in the Commons, Skinner joked: “Royal expenses are on the way.”

2008
Skinner quipped: “Any Tory moles at the palace?”, a reference to the recent arrest of the Tory MP Damian Green in connection with Home Office leaks.

2007

After two protected hen harriers were shot dead on the royal family’s Sandringham estate, Skinner remarked: “Who shot the harriers?” Prince Harry was questioned by the police but no charges were brought.

2006

In reference to the new film The Queen, Skinner asked Black Rod: “Have you got Helen Mirren on standby?”

2003

Following a series of break-ins at Buckingham Palace, Skinner asked: “Did she lock the door behind her?”

2000

Skinner shouted, “Tell her to read the Guardian” after the newspaper launched a new campaign calling for Britain to become a republic.

1997

Skinner cried: “New Labour, New Black Rod”, an adaptation of the campaign slogan “New Labour, New Britain”.

1992

As pressure grew on the Queen to pay tax on her personal income, Skinner ordered Black Rod: “Tell her to pay her taxes.”

1990

Skinner quipped: “It tolls for thee, Maggie”, a reference to Margaret Thatcher’s imminent resignation as prime minister.

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