New Tory MP in campaign for statue of defeated Beast of Bolsover Dennis Skinner

By George Ryan, PA Parliamentary Reporter

A newly-elected Tory MP has called for a statue of Labour firebrand Dennis Skinner to be erected in the constituency he served for 49 years.

Mark Fletcher comfortably defeated the 87-year-old former miner, known affectionately as the Beast of Bolsover, in what was one of the biggest political scalpings of the 2019 general election.

The Tories took 21,791 votes (47.4% of the vote) to Labour’s 16,492 (35.9%) in the rural Derbyshire seat.

Giving his maiden Commons speech, Mr Fletcher paid tribute to his predecessor – who, until his defeat, was the longest-serving MP – and urged the Opposition and Government to join his campaign for a statue of the veteran, who he called “a giant of British politics”.

Mr Fletcher said: “He fought tirelessly for his constituents locally and it was incredibly heartening to hear on street after street and doorstep after doorstep in the campaign of the work that he had done to help people.

“Dennis also became known nationally for his uncompromising contributions in this chamber and his heckling in the Queen’s Speech.

“Feared, admired and respected, Dennis Skinner is synonymous both with this House and with the constituency I now represent.

“And I think it would only be fair and a great tribute if we can arrange for a statue of Dennis to be built in the constituency to honour his service and to inspire the next generation in Bolsover that they too can help shape the world.

“I would very much welcome the support of the Opposition front bench on this proposal as well the Government.”

Speaking afterwards, former Labour leadership hopeful Clive Lewis gave his thoughts on what Mr Skinner would have made of the proposal.

Mr Lewis said: “In terms of a statue, I can’t speak for Dennis, although I can think of one word, or maybe two words, that he might say.

“But perhaps it would be something like ‘give over’.”