Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner has been voted off the party’s national executive committee by fellow MPs - to the fury of some colleagues who said it showed “naive political immaturity” and a failure to understand voters.
The 82-year-old left-winger, who has been in the Commons since 1970, lost his place on the NEC to former minister John Healey in a ballot of the Parliamentary Labour Party, sparking heavy criticism from some supporters and regret by one member of the shadow cabinet.
Shadow international development minister Jim Murphy wrote on Twitter: “Really sorry to hear that Dennis Skinner was voted off Labour’s NEC today.
“A brilliant MP & good friend. Hopefully he’ll make NEC comeback.”
Shadow cabinet office minister Jon Ashworth - who is a member of the NEC - posted: “So sorry that Dennis Skinner (who I voted for) not re elected. He will be a big loss.”
There was strong criticism from MPs John Mann and John McDonnell.
“Naive political immaturity in Parliamentary Labour Party in knocking Dennis Skinneroff NEC in election year,” Mr Mann said.
And Mr McDonnell said the vote was a “sign of how distant from reality and from the views of our members some of them (Labour MPs) are”.
“I pay tribute to Dennis Skinner for the work he has done over decades as the voice of the working class left on Labour’s NEC. Comrade & hero,” he added.
The vote came only hours after Mr Skinner - a former miner nicknamed the “Beast of Bolsover” after his Derbyshire constituency - made a characteristically pithy attack on David Cameron at prime minister’s questions in the Commons.
Accusing the PM of presiding over the “wreckage” of the NHS, he told him: “Get it done, or get out.”
Ed Miliband’s office dismissed suggestions that Mr Skinner had been the victim of an organised campaign by the leadership.
“It is a matter for the PLP,” a spokesman said.
“It was a PLP-run election”.
Former deputy leader Dame Margaret Beckett and Steve Rotheram retained their places as MPs’ representatives on the NEC.