Politics

Dennis Skinner Doesn't Email Because He Wants To "Keep The Postman In Work"

The Labour MP also told BuzzFeed News he's baffled by the popularity of his parody accounts on Twitter and Facebook, since he reckons social media is a fad.

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The veteran left-wing Labour MP for Bolsover, who has been in parliament since 1970, also told BuzzFeed News he's baffled by the number of people who run tribute accounts under his name on Twitter and Facebook. He's never used either service and refuses to have a mobile phone on the basis that "there's phones everywhere".

"Twitter? I've never sent an email to anybody," the man nicknamed the Beast of Bolsover said. "I believe in keeping the postman in work. It has resulted in a lot of letters not being sent. When I arrived [in parliament] I learnt how to do all the letters myself as I used to work in the pit and represent people at tribunals."

He added: "With this 'social media', instead of letters you get emails. They're all written in a hurry, with no punctuation, no paragraphs – it's one continual stream, with spelling mistakes. Quite frankly I think it's a world I don't need. But I have to read them all because people say, 'Did you get my letter?' And it's not even a letter! It's a scrawl on a screen!"

Skinner is particularly exasperated with emails from petition websites: "Some people think that because 38 Degrees convinces people to send emails by the dozen every day that somehow they don't have to do anything. They don't write it, they just press a button on a computer screen. I reckon in the course of the past two weeks I've had at least 100 [emails] exactly the same [on hunting]."

Still, Skinner said he's aware of the very popular Twitter tribute accounts run in his name, such as @BolsoverBeast, which has 37,000 followers for its stream of left-wing tweets.

Twitter

"I don’t care [about people using his name]," the MP said. "I read a few of them and the Beast of Bolsover man or woman does get it genuinely right. I get people coming up to me and saying ‘Cmon Dennis, admit it’s you’ because they seem to hit the nail on the head."

"One Labour MP, Cathy McKinnell from up north, she said, ‘Why don’t you admit it, it’s yours.’ I said, ‘It bloody well isn’t.'"

Despite this, he believes Twitter and Facebook have got a limited shelf life and won't replace face-to-face conversations when it comes to politics: "There are fads in life and old people indulge things to excess sometimes. But if you want my honest opinion, I think it'll wear thin."

What's more he's not going to get a mobile phone any time soon: "There’s phones all over the place. When I got a message I walked out of the [House of Commons] chamber, I went to a phone, and I rang within 20 seconds. They’re all over the place, what do you want one in your pocket for? On every corner of the building there will be phones. I just don’t know what the point is."

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at jim.waterson@buzzfeed.com.

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