Edinburgh Council coalition talks: How Labour and the Lib Dems could gazump SNP and Greens – Steve Cardownie
With at least three potential contenders for the position within the SNP group itself, giving it over to the opposition is no more than an attempt to head the Labour group off at the pass.
With the formation of a coalition deal between the SNP group and the Greens, Labour group leader, Cammy Day, was left with no other option but to go knocking on the Lib Dems door to see if some sort of arrangement between the two could be cobbled together.
The assertion by the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar MSP, that his party would not strike deals with any other party post-election, made no political sense whatsoever.
With only two out of the 32 Scottish local authorities returning single-party majorities, it was patently obvious that Labour councillors would have to reach some kind of arrangement or deal with other parties if they were to exert any meaningful policy influence in their respective town halls.
Up on the High Street, Labour will have already offered Councillor Aldridge the Lord Provost position along with some other convenorships which they hope should be enough to secure the support of the Lib Dems, leaving the Tory group to either vote to support the Lab/Lib Dem proposal or abstain thereby allowing the SNP/Green proposition to carry the day.
However, they are not called the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party for nothing and, faced with supporting either a nationalist or unionist bid for power, it shouldn’t exercise the mind for long to assess which one they would plump for.
This would secure a majority for Councillor Day to capture the leadership of the council as the Tory support would be forthcoming without any deals being struck with them.
There would obviously be no point whatsoever in putting forward a Lab/Lib Dem proposal with a combined vote of 25 against a counter SNP/Green proposal with a combined vote of 29 if Tory support was not assured.
If reports are accurate it would appear that the SNP and Greens may already be at loggerheads. Before the ink has dried on the agreement, it seems that there may be a move to split the Transport and Environment Committee to accommodate the aspirations of certain SNP and Green councillors, leaving them open to accusations that this is being done for political expediency rather than council efficiency.
If the SNP is content to offer up the position of Lord Provost to the Lib Dems, why not just simply offer up the position of Transport and Environment Committee Convenor to the Greens? Misplaced loyalty perhaps?
At the time of writing, I am not aware of how much, if any, progress has been made with the Lab/Lib Dem talks but as someone who successfully negotiated two former coalitions on behalf of the SNP, one with the Lib Dems and the other with Labour, I can only offer an informed guess as to what might materialise. Of course, I could be wrong – but then I could be right!