UK

Dennis Skinner's Labour Conference Speech Gets Standing Ovation

'He sold us down the river on the EU.'

25/09/2017 14:36 BST | Updated 25/09/2017 15:37 BST

Dennis Skinner was given a standing ovation at the Labour Conference on Monday after a rousing speech in front of the party faithful.

The 85-year-old showed no signs of slowing down as he blasted zero-hours contracts and painted a rosy picture of Britain in 1945 when he “went down the pit and I worked with displaced persons”.

Skinner said the Labour 2017 manifesto was “the best since the Second World War” and pushed for the Government to borrow more money to fund public services.

The response from Labour and its supporters was emotional. 

Elsewhere however, what Skinner didn’t talk about raised a few eyebrows.

Labour divisions over Europe have erupted after conference delegates agreed not to push the issue of Brexit to a vote.

The decision meant Jeremy Corbyn avoided a divisive clash over Labour’s Brexit policy on the conference floor at the gathering in Brighton.

But anger boiled over among pro-EU MPs, with one branding the decision “f***ing ridiculous” while a member of Corbyn’s frontbench team said the decision was “strange”.

Dennis Skinner’s speech in full:

Dennis Skinner, ex-official, seating with the National Executive but I don’t know how I get away with it.

This is a tremendous conference and it’s been a tremendous  year and it’s mainly because of the election of our new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and all the people represented on the front bench.

We had a manifesto that quite frankly, was the best since 1945 and I’ve lived long enough to remember reading that as a young lad taking papers round during the Second World War.

And then I went down the pit and I worked with displaced persons. Who are they? They were people from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia and over Europe.

Why? Because at the end of the Second World War there were millions of people displaced from the country in which they lived.

So I worked with Poles and Lithuanians and all the rest of it and do you know why there was never an argument in the pits?

Because they had the same money as us and they were in the NUM.

And now we’re living in a country where zero-hours contracts dominate and on the same pit site in the middle of Derbyshire at Shirebrook Colliery there is no a man called Mike Ashley who just happens to own Newcastle United as well, employing above 2,000 people, mainly people from abroad on zero-hours contracts.

That’s the difference between ’45 and now. And that’s why the manifesto that was published during the course of that snap election is very important to all of us.

Because it means there is a new zeal abroad within the Labour movement, it can be witnessed at this conference - the place was full on a Sunday. That never used to happen even in the days of Tony Blair and all the rest of it.

The party is alive and well and kicking and that’s why today we have to get rid of those zero-hours contracts and that’s what we have to promise.

And if anyone says ‘where’s the money coming from?’, well I’ll tell ya.

They used to ask Nye Bevan that when he was building the NHS and building all those council houses and getting rid of the vandalism caused prior to the Second World War.

The country was skint yet somehow or another nye Bevan had an answer - he says we’re going to borrow it. And that’s what you do, and make a comparison with the private sector.

When the private sector expands where do you think they get their money from? They borrow it.

And they don’t take it out of their own safe. When Tesco expands, do you think for a minute they go to a Tesco safe and get the money out?

Of course they don’t, they go in somebody else’s safe.

They borrow the money.

That’s what we should do. That’s the answer to all those people that stick a camera in your face every day of the week as you enter this building.

Tell them ’we’ll do what the private sector do, we’ll borrow the money’.

So when we get rid of zero-hours contracts and renationalise the Royal Mail - oh, it really gets to me when they talk about the Queen’s head being privatised.

That’s what we did in 1945 - we built a National Health Service and we introduced industry injury benefit for all those workers - we brought in free education from the cradle to the grave.

That’s why we’re going to get rid of tuition fees.

Vote Labour! I can’t wait for it!