A LABOUR councillor has defected to the SNP so he can campaign for a Yes vote in next year’s independence referendum.
Alex Lunn, who represents Craigentinny/Duddingston, said he believed the SNP now reflected his political views better than Labour.
But he insisted his move was not prompted by any differences with the Labour leadership at the City Chambers and pledged support to the council’s Labour-SNP administration. His defection means the SNP now has 18 councillors to Labour’s 20.
Councillor Lunn said: “For over a year now I have been feeling the best way forward for Scotland is to become an independent country.
“And the only way I can really campaign for independence is to join the SNP. Labour has made it clear it wants Scotland to stay part of the Union and as a Labour councillor you are expected to adhere to that.”
Councillor Lunn, 34, said he had joined the Labour Party in Moredun when he was 16. “At that time, Labour was offering a positive future for the country,” he said.
He said he had been impressed with the SNP’s record in power at Holyrood since 2007. “Free prescriptions are something I’ve always campaigned for,” he said. “The SNP is now more in line with my political views than Labour.”
He rejected the idea his switch of party meant he should stand down as a councillor. “There is no precedent for a councillor resigning and fighting a by-election. I’m confident the hard work I’ve put in in my ward in the last 18 months will see me in good stead. ”
SNP group leader Steve Cardownie, who made the same journey from Labour to the Nationalists in 2005, praised Cllr Lunn for having “the courage of his convictions”.
He said: “Alex has a reputation as a hard-working, conscientious councillor and we are delighted to welcome him into the group.”
He said there was no reason that the defection should affect the relationship between Labour and the SNP inside the coalition.
“I’m not saying it will be easy for some members of the Labour group, but politics is politics, we face the most important decision in Scotland’s history and Alex has decided he can only campaign on that from within the SNP.”
Edinburgh Eastern SNP MSP Kenny MacAskill said he had admired Mr Lunn as an able and hard-working councillor. “I’m delighted he has come across. He recognises the benefits of a Yes vote and the absurdity of Labour being in partnership with the Tories for a No vote.”
Cllr Lunn was made vice-chair of the Inch/Gilmerton local party at 20 and served as an election agent in 1999. He was elected to the council in 2012.