Despite Edinburgh Council budget defeat, Labour leader Cammy Day is safe unless rebels in his own party decide to bring him down – Steve Cardownie
Reporting on last Thursday’s Edinburgh City Council’s budget setting meeting under the headline “Drama as Lib Dem budget approved amid tactical voting and resignation”, this paper highlighted the events that led to unprecedented scenes in the City Chambers.
Due to tactical voting by the Greens, at one point even supporting the Conservative group’s proposals, Labour was left holding the baby as the Lib Dems’ budget was approved. Embarrassing as it no doubt was, was it enough for the Labour administration to call it a day and retire to lick their wounds? Not according to council leader Cammy Day who appears to be having none of it.
Soon after the votes were counted, the opposition rounded on Councillor Day as expected with the former SNP council leader Adam McVey leading the charge, insisting that it had been a “disastrous” day for Labour and calling for Day’s resignation – a call which will go unheeded if Cammy has his way.
After the vote, Conservative group leader Iain Whyte opined that Labour would have to take a “slightly different approach to how they do things and the way things are agreed”, echoing the approach of Councillor Day who has already instructed the chief executive to bring forward a report on how all groups and the public may be involved at an early stage in drawing up next year’s budget.
Day’s view is that the new politics of the City Chambers dictates that there should be new arrangements for the successful delivery of a budget fit for the city which would give all party groups the opportunity to influence the final budget outcome before the formal vote is cast at a full council meeting.
As for Councillor Day’s future? The Liberal Democrats will obviously not seek his resignation given that it was their budget that was passed, and the Conservatives will stop short of doing anything that might help topple the Labour administration and bring in an SNP/Green one, so there is not going to be a change at the top anytime soon.
Council leader Day is firmly of the view that he and his group have been entrusted to form an administration by a majority of councillors in the City Chambers and he has no intention of relinquishing the reins to the opposition. His defiant approach is that he is best equipped to take the city forward and, in partnership with other councillors, deliver policies that will be of great benefit to Edinburgh.
To all intents and purposes then, it looks like the current minority Labour administration will live to fight another day (forgive the pun) and the SNP and Greens will have to bide their time until another opportunity arises. Of course, that will not stop them snapping at Labour’s heels and nor should it, given the political make-up of the council. But success is not guaranteed and it might take an unforgivable slip-up by the administration to open that particular door.
Until then, if there is any threat to Day’s longevity in the job, it would have to come from any disaffected ranks within his own party rather than from political pressure without.