Brian Monteith: Edinburgh Council Elections: So who do we blame now?

Eric Milligan celebrates Hearts' Scottish Cup win in 1998
Eric Milligan celebrates Hearts' Scottish Cup win in 1998
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So that’s the council elections done and dusted. Out with the old and in with the new. But will Edinburgh City Council be any better governed?

Being the world’s second best city to live in has come despite our council, not because of it. Some familiar faces will no longer irritate or entertain us. The likes of Hon Eric Milligan and Lesley Hinds join the annals of Edinburgh history. Goodness, whom shall we be able to blame in future? Don’t worry; there will always be new council culprits keen to step forward.

As I write this, it is beyond hope that I can know the outcome. The single transferable vote system takes much longer to count and the conclusion will be known well after my deadline.

Nevertheless I know we can expect changes. Labour councillors are very likely to be reduced in number, there should be some reward for the Tories following their recent Lazarus-like recovery, and the Lib Dems and Greens should benefit from the voting system giving them second or third preferences as probable “least disliked” parties.

Despite a recent (marginal) decline in support the SNP should make most council gains as the comparison in winning seats will be determined not by support demonstrated in 2016 or 2015 but against the last council elections in 2013.

We then get down to the wrangling of which party will work with which to form an administration – which has usually meant who will not work with the Tories! No matter how bad Labour has been (think David Begg’s traffic management, think Cllrs Anderson and Burns’ congestion charging and trams) there has always been a party that, in seeking power, has been willing to keep Labour in power. The Lib Dems did it and the SNP did it.

Will such a Faustian pact evolve this time? Or will a different pact evolve aimed at keeping the Nationalists out of power?

As usual, so fine has been the balance in Edinburgh over the last 40 years, who becomes the Lord Provost could become the key to deciding who becomes leader of the council.

One thing is unlikely; the flying of the red flag over the City Chambers as a mark of a changing administration – fittingly in 1984 during the height of the Cold War when millions of Europeans were still under the heel of the Soviet Union. I suppose that’s progress, of sorts.