Harriet Harman
Harriet Harman backed George Osborne's plan to scrap child tax credits for families with more than two children Getty

The Scottish National Party staged a takeover of the Labour party's opposition benches in the House of Commons on Tuesday (22 July) claiming that they are now the "real opposition" to the Conservatives.

Strongly criticising the Labour party for failing to oppose the Tory government's planned welfare cuts, the SNP said voters who did not back the Conservative party at the general election deserved better.

The takeover took place during a debate on Tuesday evening on the Finance Bill, which enacts the tax and legal changes announced in the Budget, local media report. The Labour's position on the bill was again to abstain.

The vote on the Finance Bill was passed 301 to 75.

The SNP MPs occupied the front bench normally reserved for the official opposition with its members spilling over onto the second and third rows.

SNP MP Angus MacNeil, while raising a point of order, said that if the furniture could not be rearranged, the parties should change the seating so that the "actual opposition sits in the right place."

Chancellor George Osborne's £12m welfare cuts cleared its first parliamentary hurdle on Monday night when Labour's acting chief Harriet Harman told her party lawmakers to abstain from voting.

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill was backed by 308 to 124 votes, with 48 of Labour's 232 MPs went against party leadership directive and voted against the legislation.

The Bill will return to the House of Commons in autumn for its committee stage.

SNP says Labour stance on welfare bill will haunt them

The SNP, which voted against the bill said the Labour's position would haunt them in the next Scotland elections.

Hannah Bardell, the SNP's spokeswoman on fair work and employment said: "Labour had the perfect opportunity to join the SNP in a progressive coalition to oppose the Tories – but with some honourable exemptions they sat on their hands.

"This disgraceful stance will haunt Labour through next year's Scottish Parliament election and far beyond. Labour have completely abandoned any pretence of being a party of social justice and progress – just as they did when they so shamefully voted to support George Osborne's $30bn more austerity cuts," she said.

SNP MPs had questioned why Labour, which voted against all of the coalition's full budgets at the second reading, would not oppose the first all Tory budget in nearly two decades at the same stage, the Telegraph reported.

SNP's Tommy Sheppard, a former senior Labour official said the UK needed a better opposition than what his former party is providing.

He said even if there are one or two things in the welfare bill that they agreed with, "surely the overall rubric and intent of this Bill is to penalise people in this society who you should be standing up for, and I do appeal to you to reconsider your position ..."

Labour revolt is not a party meltdown

The Guardian in its editorial said that to call Monday's Labour party revolt as a party meltdown "is an exaggeration."

It notes that the Labour leadership candidates, and the London mayoral candidates are all "fishing for votes in what they believe is now a more leftwing Labour electorate. Some of this may abate when these contests are over."

The editorial says that a new Labour leader may then set a firmer course that is better connected to the wider electorate.

The Daily Mail said that the SNP is capitalising on its position as the most vocal party of the left now that the Labour party is in disarray and not due to choose a new leader for another two months.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband resigned after the opposition party recorded its worst election results since 1987.