Scottish nationalists are 'behaving like goons' in the House of Commons, says longest-serving MP

Sir Gerald Kaufman hit out at SNP MPs for trying to oust veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner from his 45-year-old seat in the Commons

Click to follow
Indy Politics

The SNP's new crop of MPs are behaving like "goons" and are at risk of "devaluing" their role as elected representatives, the longest-serving MP has said.

Sir Gerald Kaufman, who was first elected to the Commons in 1970 and has the honorary title of Father of the House, hit out at SNP MPs for trying to oust the veteran MP Dennis Skinner from the front-row seat he has sat in for the duration of his 45-years in Parliament.

It has become an unofficial rule that the seat - immediately across the aisle from the Chief Whip - is reserved for Mr Skinner, who was also first elected in 1970.

84-year-old Sir Gerald Kaufman, as the oldest of the longest-serving MPs, is the Father of the House of Commons

But earlier this week, when MPs first attended the Green benches after the election, he found his seat stolen by an MP from the resurgent SNP, who had strategically camped out for hours to nab the prime spots on the opposition benches in a publicity stunt to show they would be a force to be reckoned with in this Parliament.

Eventually Mr Skinner got his way and he managed to slip into his customary seat for the election of the Speaker on Monday, but the fight goes on.

And 84-year-old Sir Gerald is scathing of their actions: “I think that their conduct is infantile," he said. "I don’t know what they’re trying to prove. It’s all very well for them to try to sit in a block, but to move one of the longest-serving members of parliament out of a seat that he’s occupied for decades, it’s stupid.

He added: “On the date of the convening of parliament and on the date of the swearing in, some of them actually sat on the opposition front bench.

“They’re goons and if they go on like this instead of using their undoubted mandate from the Scottish people to be serious about issues on behalf of Scotland – which is what they’ve been elected to do – if they’re going to play these infantile games, they will devalue themselves.”

Peter Wishart, who has led the SNP's negotiations with Labour over the seating row, said his party would be willing to compromise over Mr Skinner's seat if Labour agreed to give up at least some of the front bench seats to the SNP.

"The last thing we want to do is sit with the Labour party. Just give us our space," he told MailOnline.