After Edinburgh Council budget fiasco, Cammy Day needs to read the writing on the wall – Ross McKenzie

Despite some lukewarm backing from steadfast allies towards the end of the week, the crisis engulfing Cammy Day’s Labour administration, following his decision to back a Lib Dem budget that he admits he hadn’t read, shows no sign of abating.
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The Lib Dem budget breaches Labour’s only red line – a policy of “no compulsory redundancies” – and proposes the outsourcing of waste services to private companies, which is antithetical to Labour’s stated aim of bringing jobs back into the council. The main question coming from trade unionists this week has rightly been: “What can be done stop these measures?”

The answer isn’t immediately clear. Labour statements insist that the decisions made in the budget are not binding and can be overturned by committees (which makes me wonder why we went through the whole budget bourach), while a Lib Dem source insisted that “as with any budget, we expect it to be implemented in full”.

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Regardless of what can be done to stop these measures in the short term, it’s clear that any long-term vision of a council that puts the interests of workers and communities first cannot be achieved as part of any arrangement with the Tories and Lib Dems. You can’t make Edinburgh a fairer place in coalition with those who have a vested interest in maintaining the stark inequalities that blight our city.

Forty-one of the current 62 councillors oppose compulsory redundancies and the same 41 councillors oppose the outsourcing of council jobs to the private sector. Labour needs to work with the SNP and Greens as part of that two-thirds majority, rather than providing a platform for the promotion of right-wing Tory and Lib Dem policies. That may mean giving up on administration and the illusion of power that it brings, but surely the jobs of the people the Labour party was founded to represent are more important.

Councillor Day might not be minded to take advice from me as he considers his position this weekend, but at least I’m not suggesting any heavy reading – he just needs to look up and see the writing on the wall.

Ross McKenzie is a councillor for Sighthill/Gorgie

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