Labour proposes ‘rainbow coalition’ to run Edinburgh council

Ellie Bird, SNP councillor for Forth ward, celebrates her election at the count at Meadowbank on Friday. Picture: Neil Hanna
Ellie Bird, SNP councillor for Forth ward, celebrates her election at the count at Meadowbank on Friday. Picture: Neil Hanna
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LABOUR has proposed an all-party “rainbow” coalition to run the Capital as talks continue on a new administration for the city.

Cammy Day, leader of the Labour group, said his proposed all-party deal would be based on an anti-austerity budget and a presumption against privatising services.

He said he had emailed each of the other party leaders, inviting them to talks this morning about the idea.

The initiative came after SNP sources had claimed they were close to a deal with Labour about renewing the coalition between the two parties which ran the city for the past five years and suggested an agreement could be reached as early as today.

Last week’s council elections made the SNP the biggest party on the council with 19 seats, just one ahead of the Tories who have 18. Labour has 12, the Greens eight and the Lib Dems six.

Negotiations have been going on at the City Chambers on since the results were known on Friday night.

As well as the SNP’s plan for a partnership with Labour, which would have to rely on some degree of Green support, the Tories have proposed an alternative “pan-unionist” coalition of Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems.

Cllr Day said he had held talks with both the SNP and the unionists and both sets of discussions had made progress.

But it is understood there are differences of view within the Labour group, with most ruling out a straight deal with the Tories, but some also opposed to a coalition with the SNP.

They are said to be wary of “cosying up” to the Nationalists after an election in which many of them got elected by pitching themselves against the SNP and when the two parties are squaring up to each other for the general election. They also pointed out the combination of SNP and Labour councillors would still be one short of an overall majority.

One Labour insider said: “There is no easy solution or it would have been done by now. The SNP is keen to do a deal with us as soon as possible, but quite a lot of Labour people are saying ‘Hang on, let’s not make any mistakes’.

“They don’t want to rush into something that might have long-term consequences. The general election makes it difficult for everyone.”

Cllr Day formally emailed all the leaders with his all-party proposal last night.

He said: “Given that the votes cast across the city shows no majority for any party, this is an attempt to bring all parties together and come to a power-sharing arrangement of some sort.

“Parties have different views and it might not be feasible, but I want to see if there is a willing coalition of all parties to support some objectives for the city.

“It would include an anti-austerity budget, working with the trade unions to get the best deal we can, standing up for Edinburgh getting the right resources for a capital city and an assumption not to privatise council services.”

SNP group leader Adam McVey said: “Talks are ongoing with relevant parties. I’m hopeful for a conclusion that puts Edinburgh first and manages progressive change to address the issues we have.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com