SNP ponders bid to secure majority at City Chambers

Steve Cardownie
Steve Cardownie
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Leaders of the SNP group in Edinburgh are lining up a bid to become a majority administration at the City Chambers after the local elections in May.

Leaders of the SNP group in Edinburgh are lining up a bid to become a majority administration at the City Chambers after the local elections in May.

No party has selected enough candidates to win a majority amid growing acceptance that electoral reform has made coalition politics a necessity.

The SNP has so far selected only 23 candidates, which would be seven short of an overall majority even if all were elected. But today Councillor Steve Cardownie, who leads the Nationalists in the ruling Liberal Democrat/SNP coalition, said his party is considering putting up more candidates to try to win an overall majority on the back of the surge in SNP support at last year’s Scottish Parliament election.

A “reserve” list has been drawn up by the SNP and it will decide in the coming months whether more of them should stand.

Securing a majority would require a massive swing away from the other parties, as the SNP presently has only 13 councillors. It would also have to put up two candidates in almost every ward – risking splitting its vote.

Cllr Cardownie said: “We have a preliminary list of candidates and we will re-evaluate that nearer the time but we have not exhausted it.

“We’ve got a hugely successful SNP government that got a majority even although the system is against that happening, and we have been the junior party in a coalition that has won plaudits across the country.

“We are not taking anything for granted and will fight for every vote but we’ve got a good team of seasoned candidates.”

The Liberal Democrats are the biggest party in Edinburgh, with 16 councillors, but the SNP appeared to benefit from voters turning away from the Lib Dems at the Scottish Parliament elections and could benefit from a similar shift in May.

But political opponents have dismissed the SNP’s chances of sweeping the board at the council elections.

Councillor Andrew Burns, leader of the Labour group, said: “I’m not interested in the number of candidates the SNP stand.

“Steve Cardownie is not Alex Salmond and most people understand that the current administration has failed Edinburgh over five years, with the number of local facilities closed, issues about street cleanliness, the failure to take forward the tram project. They have been in charge of all that and I see no prospect of that being rewarded by the electorate.”