Why Labour members are saying: give Jez a chance.

Iain Macwhirter

As a piece of political theatre, it was inspired. Labour MPs had mostly vacated their seats in the House of Commons on Tuesday after their disastrous abstention on the Welfare Bill. So the 56 SNP MPs occupied them claiming that they were the true opposition now.

There was much teeth sucking and head shaking at this unseemly parliamentary behaviour. But the SNP action was part of a long tradition of parliamentary attentions seeking: Michael Heseltine waving the Commons Mace in 1976 over Labour nationalisation; Tom Clarke leading a mass walk out of Scottish Labour MPs in 1989 over Tory cuts.

It was a publicity stunt of course and in a way an expression of powerlessness. But the SNP’s occupy protest vividly made the point that Labour appears to have abdicated its constitutional responsibility to oppose.

This has been Labour’s worst week since the general election. Abstention on the Tory bill…

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