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.
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.
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.
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.
However when Mr. Skinner arrived to take his place, they moved and let him sit down. They really showed him.
Then nine SNP MPs sat directly behind the Labour front bench. These seats are usually occupied by Labour MPs. Incredible scenes.
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?
End Austerity! What even is austerity? Cuts to public services – the SNP want no more of it! Instead of cutting, the SNP will put in tiny increases into public spending of 0.5% for each year of parliament.
The SNP will have an additional £140 billion to play with to invest in things like the NHS and education (that’s across the whole of the UK, not just Scotland). They’ll find the money from introducing more taxes…
– Hello 50p tax rate for top earners – so those earning the most contribute more to help the most vulnerable.
– Bankers get ready to pay an extra tax on those nice bonuses you get.
– A bank levy (posh name for a tax).
– A mansion tax (posh name for a house worth over a certain amount, you’d be surprised what is considered a ‘mansion’ in London).
– A crackdown on tax avoidance.
– No more non-doms (Dick and Dom can stay).
Vote to increase NHS spending in the UK by £24 billion by 2021 – adding £2 billion to the NHS Scotland budget.
The SNP will always vote against any privatisation of the NHS in England.
Oppose plans to renew Trident nuclear weapons (explainer). Instead that £100 billion – yes £100 billion – can be invested into nice(r) things. Like better childcare. And better education. And of course: a better NHS.
Minimum wage is going up… £8.70 to be precise. Not immediately but by 2020.
The SNP support the living wage across the whole of the UK. The SNP also want you to know that the Scottish Government already pays all its employees the living wage (pat on the back), and it urges the UK government to do the same (you’ve been warned UK).
Say no to….cuts to Child Benefit. Instead increase benefits so that incomes of the poorest in society do not fall even further behind the cost of living. The SNP got ya back peeps.
Absolutely zero cuts to the Disability Living Allowance, and the SNP will always vote against it too.
So long Bedroom Tax, it’s been fun.
Increase Carer’s Allowance so it matches Jobseekers’ Allowance (explainer). Carer’s Allowance is currently £62.10 per week.
Guarantee free university education in Scotland, and support the reduction of fees in the rest of the UK.
Give Educational Maintenance Allowance in Scotland to 22,000 more pupils and part-time students.
30,000 more apprenticeships for young people.
Expand free nursery education from 16 hours a week to 30 hours a week.
The SNP love being part of the EU and they will do all they can to make sure it stays that way.
The Help to Buy scheme which helps people get their feet on that tricky housing ladder – SNP will support its growth and aren’t against it.
SNP aim: 100,000 more affordable homes a year in the UK.
End those infamous zero-hour contracts.
Encourage people on benefits back to work by supporting an increase of 20% in Work Allowance – aka the amount people are allowed to earn before their benefit is cut.
Review plans to change retirement age from 66 to 67… it will make a difference to when people can start receiving their pensions.
SNP will encourage the UK government to follow their lead on ambitious carbon reduction targets – that’s making the UK a cleaner and greener country for everyone.
Delay and suspend fracking.
Make me safe: 1,000 extra police officers.
50/50 Men and Women on public and private boards please.
Equal pay – is it that much to ask?
Females listen to this: no VAT on sanitary products!
Goodbye Lords: Hello new, ELECTED second chamber.
First Past The Post is so yesterday – the SNP call for Proportional Representation as the new voting system – that’s where a party is allocated a number of seats in Parliament that is directly proportional to the number of votes they gained nationwide.
The SNP want you to know they will ALWAYS support independence and want Scotland to be its own country in its own right (flashback to 2014 and the SNP losing that referendum).
In the meantime: SNP MPs in Westminster will use their influence to make sure Scotland get what they deserve – aka promises of greater powers are kept and put into action.
The Scottish Parliament would be completely responsible for all their monies.
The SNP are also pretty anti a Conservative government, just so you know. #enemies
YOU’VE HEARD THE 2015 SNP MANIFESTO.
THERE’S NOT LONG TO GO NOW… WHO WILL YOU VOTE FOR?
ELECTION DAY: MAY 7TH.
Stay up to date with all our explainers and:
[myo_fb_poll poll = 1267]
What else do you feel the SNP aren’t quite covering? Let us know in the comment box below.