Firebrand MP Dennis Skinner has held Bolsover for Labour for 47 years. Now the subject of an revealing documentary, he talks Corbyn, coalmining and an unlikely Billy Elliot moment
I tried to interview Dennis Skinner once before. Twenty-odd years ago, when he was near retirement age and I was starting out at the Observer, I phoned his office at the House of Commons to see if we could arrange something. I was expecting a switchboard or a secretary but the man himself answered the phone. I explained my idea: amazing parliamentary record, now approaching 65, New Labour in power, good moment to take stock – all of that.
There was a short pause when I finished my breathless pitch. And then Skinner asked an incontrovertible question, one to which I had no adequate reply: “Why the bloody hell would I want to do that?”