Parliament Seats Explained: Labour and SNP fight it out.

You’d hope the first day of a new parliament would be about getting down to business and a fresh start. However the most important decision seemed to be a Labour SNP fight over who got to sit at the front.

Parliament: How it works:

There are 650 MPs in Parliament; however there is only space in the chamber for 427 people to sit down. Which makes total sense.


People who don’t get a seat have to stand at the back of the chamber to listen to the debate.

To reserve a seat MPs put a prayer card with their name on the seat they wish to sit in. Each sitting of the house begins with prayers – MPs don’t have to attend, but use this opportunity to reserve their seat. A bit like claiming your sun lounger with a towel when on holiday.

Labour SNP Fight - the green benches of the House of Commons Chamber

Places are reserved on the bench by a prayer card with your name on it


The front benches on either side are reserved for the head honchos of the government, and the opposition – in this case the Conservatives and Labour. Long-serving members of parliament usually don’t have to get in early to reserve their seat – these are left empty for them out of respect.


How the SNP said “sack that” to convention:

The Labour SNP fight started when the SNP decided it wasn’t enough to take nearly all the parliamentary seats away from Labour in Scotland; they wanted to also take away their actual Parliamentary seats as well.

Hours ahead of the Parliamentary session SNP MPs took turns sitting in the seat of veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner. Skinner has sat in that position since 1970, so the SNP trying to nick it was a bold move.


Labour SNP fight MP Dennis Skinner addresses the house

Creature of Habit: Dennis Skinner has sat in the same position since 1970


However when Mr. Skinner arrived to take his place, they moved and let him sit down. They really showed him.

Labour SNP fight - the SNP moved off pretty quick


Then nine SNP MPs sat directly behind the Labour front bench. These seats are usually occupied by Labour MPs. Incredible scenes.


Is this Labour SNP fight actually important?

The SNP say that they are the third largest party and therefore deserve a prominent position in parliament. Their argument is that before 2010 the Liberal Democrats (then the third largest party) were allowed that position.

Labour aren’t happy – if the SNP stay where they are, they will be visible in the background every time the Labour leader makes a speech.


Whoever said politics was out of touch with real issues?

Labour SNP Fight - Simon Cowell puts a hand over his face


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