Edinburgh still waits for leadership after council elections

SNP group leader Adam McVey (right) has been talking about a deal with his Labour counterpart Cammy Day. Picture: Neil Hanna
SNP group leader Adam McVey (right) has been talking about a deal with his Labour counterpart Cammy Day. Picture: Neil Hanna
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MORE than a week after the council elections, it is still not clear who will be in charge of the Capital for the next five years.

And today there were warnings that further delay in forming an administration could damage Edinburgh.

A coalition deal reached between the SNP, now the biggest group with 19 seats, and Labour, who have 12, is awaiting approval by Labour’s Scottish executive committee (SEC).

But sources say the Scottish Labour leadership is not keen to see an SNP-Labour coalition and would prefer to leave the SNP to form a minority administration.

The looming general election has inevitably heightened political tensions.

And there is speculation the uncertainty could stretch for another four weeks, until after June 8.

SNP group leader Adam McVey said he and his Labour counterpart Cammy Day were now talking about more details of the proposed deal as they wait for the SEC’s decision.

“We continue to talk to each other and get the specifics nailed down,” he said. “We are not wasting time.”

But Cllr McVey has said his party is ready to lead the city with or without Labour.

Meanwhile Iain Whyte, leader of the 18-strong Tory group, who proposed a “pan-unionist” deal with Labour and the Lib Dems said they were “still open to talk”.

He said: “We see the problem as being the SNP are a single-minded party and likely to use control of the Capital as part of their continuing campaign for a second referendum and ultimately independence.”

And he claimed a minority administration would be “chaotic” because all parties were so far from having a majority.

The council is due to meet on Thursday for the first time since the elections to choose a Lord Provost and council leader.

Former Labour council leader Donald Anderson said: “I have every sympathy for all the politicians involved because this is not an easy task.

“But this is the capital city of Scotland, there are a huge array of decisions the council takes on a daily basis and the longer it takes to get a solution, the worse it is for Edinburgh.”

A senior SNP source said the fact there had been a Labour-SNP coalition in Edinburgh for the past five years showed it could work.

“Cammy Day wants to do a deal but he is being held back by the party – it’s not in the interests of the city. Labour and the SNP do not see eye to eye on independence, but you have to put that to one side and get on with it.”

And a Labour source said: “It’s important this is resolved quickly and we get a coalition to run the Capital.

“This is a place that creates work and wealth for the whole of east central Scotland, it’s the financial centre of the country and it’s such an important place any delay is bound to be damaging.”

Labour has set strict criteria for any coalition deal, including an insistence on anti-austerity policies, no compulsory redundancies and no privatisation of services.

But Cllr McVey said he did not believe any of these would be a problem. “I think we are agreed on how we go forward.”

And he said the fact Labour had approved a coalition with the SNP in South Ayrshire suggested deals were possible.

Cllr McVey also spoke of his resentment of the Labour SEC’s involvement in the process. “I would much rather Labour councillors had the power to make their own decisions about what they feel is in the best 
interests of the city. It’s frustrating that people who have been entrusted by their constituents are not quite trusted by their own party to decide on a deal in the best interests of the Capital.”