The Rise Of The Rule-Breaking Political Selfie – And What They Tell Us About Life Inside Westminster

When law-makers become rule-breakers.
<strong>A selfie from the 'no' lobby during the first meaningful vote in January </strong>
A selfie from the 'no' lobby during the first meaningful vote in January
Bill Esterson, Twitter

It may not come as much of a shock that the House of Commons – the home of the UK politics – is governed by a pretty strict set of rules.

From where MPs are allowed to sit on the hallowed green benches, to when they can speak and how they can address each other (have you ever called one of your mates “my honourable friend”?) – there’s a pretty extensive list of do’s and don’ts in parliament.

But there’s one rule MPs flout again and again – the ban on taking photos.

Maybe it’s the rise of social media, maybe it’s because we’re living through truly historic times in British politics, but never before have we seen so many selfies from inside the halls of power.

Take Tuesday night, for example. During one of the most crucial ballots of the Brexit process, the SNP’s Hannah Bardell snapped a shot of MPs voting against Theresa May’s deal.

The view – usually reserved for politicians and Commons staff – gave the public a rare insight into how MPs actually vote.

In a historic tradition, MPs still divide into the ‘Aye’ lobby and the ‘No’ lobby when it’s time to vote on an issue. They cast their vote by walking through the lobby, where they are counted by one of the Commons tellers. (Yes, our parliament really is that low-tech.)

Unsurprisingly, given the fact that May’s deal was defeated by 149 votes, Bardell’s snap showed a packed ‘no’ lobby.

But the shot was certainly not the first time an MP has bent the rules to grab a photo in parliament – it wasn’t even the first time Bardell has been caught at it.

The Livingstone MP – along with Labour’s Alison McGovern, Louise Haigh, Stephanie Peacock and Tory MP Tracey Crouch – captured a kick-about in the chamber to mark what should have been the women’s parliamentary football team’s first match, which was delayed because of votes.

Meanwhile, the MPs who quit the Labour party to create parliament’s Independent Group marked their first PMQs in February as a newly-formed gang with a smiling Commons selfie.

But it’s not just opposition parties and rebel factions who are snap-happy in Westminster.

One of May’s Cabinet ministers – namely defence secretary Gavin Williamson – kept his Instagram followers with a photo from PMQs, giving them a look at the PM’s very sparkly shoes.

What’s next – a selfie of May and Jeremy Corbyn from the dispatch box?