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To: Mr John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons

Make the SNP the Official Opposition.

As arbiter of House proceedings, please remove the Labour Party's status as the official Opposition and transfer its rights and privileges to the largest other party which is prepared to actually oppose the Government.

Why is this important?

It is not inevitable that the second largest party should form the Opposition, any more than the largest single party should form the Government. It is the normal state of affairs, but many combinations are arithmetically possible and from time to time special circumstances may apply.

This is one of those times.

The interim leader of the Labour Party has stated that having lost the General Election, it cannot and should not vote against Bills brought forward by the Government. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the parliamentary process at Westminster, and brings the whole House into disrepute.

Adversarial politics requires a strong Opposition to hold the Government to account, by force of argument and by attempting to defeat it in divisions. An Opposition party that will not do so abdicates its constitutional role.

In fairness, not all Labour MPs agree with the leader's position, and if there were so much as an even split it might be legitimate to leave the matter alone. But the 48 Labour members who voted against the Government's recent Welfare Bill constitute barely a quarter of the delegation, and are in themselves a smaller parliamentary group than the Scottish National Party.

The official Opposition should be the largest party which actually opposes the Government. At present, that is the SNP, not Labour. There may be a case for reexamining the issue in September, depending on the result of the Labour leadership election and the policies it pursues thereafter, but that should not stay your hand now.

House Of Commons, London

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2016-02-27 07:59:26 +0000

25 signatures reached

2015-07-21 17:49:39 +0100

10 signatures reached