Council elections: How Edinburgh SNP has blown the chance to dictate the agenda by being too timid – Steve Cardownie

With one day to go before polling, speculation about the potential outcome of the council elections in Edinburgh is exercising the minds of senior Scottish politicians, with major parties making their views known on the issue of any political coalitions which may be forged to form an administration.

What does seem certain however is that the current coalition between the SNP and Labour will be the last, at least for the next term, which throws up a number of possible scenarios.

The Scottish Labour leader recently reinforced his party’s stance that they will not enter into any pacts with other parties to form an administration.

He made it quite clear when he said that he is not “playing the game” of “political party stitch-ups”. He seemed content that a Labour minority administration could be the way forward although there is not a plastic bag in Hell’s chance of that happening in Edinburgh.

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He believes that councils should “run, not based on party political stitch-ups, but individual politicians and individual political parties working together on individual issues that meet the needs of local people”.

Depending on the outcome, it might transpire that the city will be taken forward by another minority administration as is currently the case as the SNP/Labour coalition has depended on the Greens for support for their major policy initiatives.

However, if the SNP and the Greens do team up in a coalition they will still not have sufficient councillors to carry the day so will need to rely on assistance from another political group to get their manifesto promises adopted as council policy.

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Nicola Sturgeon, seen joining a hen-party on Portobello beach, may regret the SNP's election strategy in Edinburgh (Picture: Lesley Martin/PA Wire)

While Labour has nailed its colours firmly to the mast, not so the Liberal Democrats. Their Scottish leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, has said that his party would be prepared to talk to the Conservatives about a potential way forward, unexpectedly leaving the door ajar for a possible deal between both parties.

Then again however, even if they did reach some form of agreement, they would not have sufficient numbers to secure a majority in the City Chambers so working as a minority administration of a different political complexion would be the only option open to them.

When all is said and done, it will not be pretty, as parties explore their options on Friday evening with a great deal of horse trading likely to ensue.

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Had the SNP taken a bolder approach to the elections, they could well have cemented their position as the lead party and gone on to dictate the agenda.

Given their position in the opinion polls, they will undoubtedly be returned as the largest group, if it was ever in any doubt. However, in taking a self-preservation approach to the election by standing fewer candidates in some wards than their political standing merits, they have jettisoned the opportunity to return more councillors to the City Chambers.

Rather, they have opted for taking no chances with some of the favoured few by ensuring that they are the sole SNP candidate in the ward.

We will know soon enough what kind of administration will be formed – let us all hope that the city will reap the benefit.