Edinburgh Council coalition talks: It looks like we're down to the final three options – Steve Cardownie

Since the Edinburgh Council elections on May 5, this paper has devoted a fair number of column inches to the question of what form the new administration will take.

Could Labour's Cammy Day emerge as the next leader of Edinburgh Council? Or will the SNP run a minority administration? (Picture: Scott Louden)
Could Labour's Cammy Day emerge as the next leader of Edinburgh Council? Or will the SNP run a minority administration? (Picture: Scott Louden)

With a coalition between the SNP and Labour ruled out, councillors have turned their minds to possible alternatives. Talks have been going on behind the scenes and a few scenarios have emerged.

An SNP/Green coalition looked to be on the cards until the Greens started to drag their heels and open discussions with the two other parties with some ‘skin in the game’.

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A loose-knit arrangement between the Greens, Labour and Lib Dems has been mooted which, if it came about, would likely see Labour’s Cammy Day installed as council leader, with the Lib Dem’s Robert Aldridge adopting the mantle of Lord Provost.

Councillor Aldridge has done little to upset fellow councillors over the 40 years that he has been in the City Chambers so will likely prove to be a popular choice.

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Affable, fair and diligent, he would certainly be able to meet the requirements demanded of a Lord Provost and the prospect of him chairing full council meetings should not have any impact on the sleeping patterns of elected members.

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Councillor Day, having been denied the opportunity to team up once more with the SNP, would jump at the chance of securing enough votes to capture the council leadership although, unlike Robert Aldridge, he has ruffled a few feathers in the past, not least when he labelled the now former SNP councillor, Alison Dickie as a “Miss Marple” for what many believed was no more than her tenacious pursuit of answers amid accusations of a bullying and harassment culture existing within the offices of council staff.

The stakes are too high, however, for this episode to get in the way of forming a new administration and any missteps that Cammy may have taken in the past are likely to be overlooked for the sake of “the greater good”.

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I mused in my column last week whether the “no coalition stance” of the Labour Party nationally would translate into “no coalition with the SNP” and this looks like materialising with each passing day.

So, a working arrangement with the Lib/Dems and the Greens might just pass muster and get the seal of approval from Labour’s Scottish executive which would prove to be a game changer for Day.

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With his plans to take up the position of deputy leader for a second term having been thwarted, he may now find himself being promoted to council leader proving that, at least for him, every cloud has a silver lining.

So, it’s all to play for up at the City Chambers with an arrangement between parties that delivers a majority being the goal. With 13 Labour, 12 Liberal Democrat and ten Scottish Greens, such an arrangement would obviously get them beyond the 32 needed for a majority and discussions are underway which entail comparing manifestos and looking for alignment on major policy matters.

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When all is said and done, the new administration will take the form of an SNP minority, an SNP/Green minority or a Lab/Lib Dem/Green majority. Time will tell.