PM and Skinner clash in age row

NDET 98620'stock pic - Dennis Skinner
NDET 98620'stock pic - Dennis Skinner

CHESTERFIELD’S MP has sensationally blasted the Prime Minister over his “disgusting ageist abuse” of veteran Labour firebrand Dennis Skinner.

Toby Perkins claimed David Cameron was “not fit for office” after he told the long-serving Bolsover MP to retire and collect his pension.

The Tory leader’s controversial attack – which has sparked widespread condemnation – came months after he branded the 80-year-old politician a “dinosaur”.

This week, defiant Mr Skinner shrugged off the Prime Minister’s remarks and said he had received numerous messages of support.

Labour MP Mr Perkins said: “I think this is blatant, disgusting ageist abuse and totally unacceptable.

“The Prime Minister is not fit for office.”

Mr Perkins said he had written a letter to Mr Cameron and his ministers – urging them to stop discriminating against the so-called Beast of Bolsover.

The Prime Minister’s attack on Mr Skinner came during a fiery House of Commons clash over allegations that culture secretary Jeremy Hunt had misled Parliament about his dealings with News Corporation during its bid for BSkyB.

Mr Skinner claimed the culture secretary had been kept in his job, and in the firing line, to prevent “bullets” hitting Mr Cameron.

“Why is the Secretary of State for Culture getting better employment rights than the rest of the workers in Britain?” asked Mr Skinner, who has represented Bolsover since 1970.

The Prime Minister replied: “Well, the honourable gentleman has the right, at any time, to take his pension and I advise him to do so.”

Mr Perkins said: “I recognise that people can say regrettable things in the hustle and bustle of Parliamentary knockabout – but this isn’t the first time Mr Cameron has simply refused to answer questions from Dennis on account of his age.

“Can you imagine the national outcry if the Prime Minister refused to answer a question because someone was black or gay?”

Grandfather Mr Skinner refused to talk about Mr Cameron’s comments when the Derbyshire Times contacted him earlier this week but he said: “I’ve had a lot of messages of support from people.”

Mr Perkins added: “Dennis is fully capable of sticking up for himself but I’ve written this letter because I want to stand up for every older worker who would not expect the Prime Minister to be encouraging and even indulging in this sort of discrimination.”

A Downing Street spokesman was unavailable for comment.

Readers have spoken out about this story on the Derbyshire Times’ Facebook page.

Simon Redding said: “Skinner 1, Cameron 0. Retire and collect your trust fund, Mr Cameron.”

Charlotte Deane said: “I can’t stand David Cameron. He’s totally out of touch with reality. Dennis goes that extra mile for his people.”

Mel Bacon said: “Dennis Skinner is keeping a younger person out of a job, but he does do a lot for his area.”

Jonathan Woodhead said: “Dennis Skinner seems keen enough to dish it out when it suits him.”

Chris Marples said: “This is an example of political mudslinging that makes a mockery of the political system, preventing issues to be settled in a constructive manner. Sadly, a lot of MPs are guilty of this to some degree.”

l The Derbyshire Times visited Bolsover to get voters’ thoughts on this story. Read more in this week’s Derbyshire Times.