All councillors need to knuckle down and find a way of working together - Steve Cardownie
The new leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, Councillor Cammy Day, recently wrote in the Evening News that he was “so proud to lead the city that is my home”.
He added that, along with 62 other councillors from all parties, “we will strive to do the best for our capital city”.
Councillor Day further said he was confident that a “collaborative approach will lead to far more consensual and co-operative decision making” and that he was looking forward to “working closely across all parties, delivering positive changes and policies for the good of our great Capital city and its residents”.
As a mission statement, it spells out the Labour Group’s proposed method of working – but is it deliverable?
Some local politicians are already predicting the current administration will be short-lived and are marking time until they can take over control, but such predictions may be way off the mark
If the political groups on the council knuckle down and fashion a style of working that is indeed inclusive and co-operative then there is every possibility that Councillor Day will continue in his role as Council Leader for some time to come.
It might not be easy and there will undoubtedly be fall outs along the way but given statements made by the Lib/Dems and Conservatives when justifying their support for the new arrangements, it is unlikely they would attempt to collapse the administration anytime soon.
At the council meeting where the new administration was formed, the SNP, in particular, came in for a great deal of criticism from other parties, with claims a SNP/Green coalition would be more of the same. Disappointment was expressed that lessons had not been learned and past mistakes had not been acknowledged, making it impossible for them to allow a SNP/Green administration to be formed.
Councillor Ian Whyte, the leader of the council’s Conservative Group, said: “There are areas where we disagree with the Labour Party, but let me say this; there is a need for us to work together in this chamber in a way that hasn’t been seen for the last five years. There’s an approach from the SNP in particular and some of their friends in the Greens that smacks of entitlement-entitlement to roles and to rule.”
Councillor Kevin Lang, of the Liberal Democrats, was also scathing in his criticism of the way that the previous administration conducted its affairs. “Today, the Liberal Democrats voted for change in our city,” he said.
It would seem that the other parties involved are more than willing to give Labour the benefit of the doubt, anticipating they will be consulted and listened to rather than, as they perceive it, ignored and marginalised. Against this backdrop it would appear that some forecasts that the new administration will soon collapse are premature.
Much will depend on the attitude of the SNP and the Greens, who might well concentrate on exposing the shortcomings of the new arrangement but they will have to be careful that they are not seen to needlessly jeopardise the work of the council just because they are miffed that they are not in charge.