The beast

NATURE OF THE BEAST. Liverpool Philharmonic.

This bioopic on Dennis Skinner, directed by Liverpool’s Dan Draper, portrays the whole individual. In addition to his celebrated political abrasiveness when bating the Tories and their institutions, his love of nature, singing (he’s a natural for a good karaoke), and his love of walking in the great parks is brought to life.

The film is at its most riveting when it portrays his unequivocal rejection of Toryism, capitalist hypocrisy and inequality and his identification with workers in struggle. Declaring in the Commons that he would be on miners’ picket lines and donating his wages to the struggle, standing firm with the dockers imprisoned in Pentonville for defying Heath’s industrial relations act, implacably opposing the expulsion of Liverpool’s socialist councillors, and giving unequivocal support to the Clay Cross councillors when they defied Edwards Heath’s Housing Finance Act.

Dennis used the Parliamentary platform to inform millions of the crimes of capitalism and the virtues of socialism. In one revealing clip he explains that he never went on an all-party ‘fact finding’ foreign junket saying that the prospect of mixing socially with Tories and Liberals appalled him.

This portrayed a man who never lost touch with his class. A miner who took the values of class solidarity into the ‘Palace of Varieties.’ The film was mostly shot in 2014 before Jeremy Corbyn assumed his current authority, so the absence of any reference to him gave the film an added strength as, unlike many right wing converts to Corbynism, he maintained his radical stance when it was ‘unpopular’.

When the 600,000 Labour Party members are empowered to select a candidate of their choice they could do worse than selecting a candidate who embraces the values Dennis Skinner has defended for decades.


Tony Mulhearn

10 October 2017

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