Edinburgh Council coalition talks: SNP leader Adam McVey's pitch to the Tories wasn't all that appealing – John McLellan

What goes around comes around. Having spent the last five years snarling with venom at Conservative councillors, how delicious it must have been for my ex-colleagues to receive a visit from SNP leader Adam McVey as it dawned on him he might need a favour to hang onto power.

Thursday, 26th May 2022, 4:55 am
SNP leader Adam McVey failed to persuade Edinburgh's Conservative councillors (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
SNP leader Adam McVey failed to persuade Edinburgh's Conservative councillors (Picture: Ian Georgeson)

Throughout the last council, barely a meeting went by without sneers and insults, every accusation from heartlessness to lies, corruption and abuse was thrown at the Conservative group, and usually in my direction.

But as the SNP’s erstwhile Labour partner moved towards striking a coalition deal with nervous Lib Dems, Cllr McVey realised he’d need the Tory group to abstain if he and his cronies were to stay in office.

So, he and some Green councillors went on manoeuvres to see if the Tory group could be persuaded to come to some accommodation without actually offering anything, which seems a strange way to do business. “We despise the ground you walk on, but let us run the city because we’re morally superior and have more councillors” isn’t much of a pitch.

Perhaps he was banking on my former colleagues finding the prospect of a plan which makes Labour’s Cammy Day the new city leader as unpalatable as an SNP-Green administration, and while that’s not without justification, if it’s a Hobson’s choice between hard-left nationalist zealots and a centre-left alliance, then the centre bit would just about get my vote.

Sensing the wind of chance was blowing against him, the predictable whingeing began early. “If we are forced into opposition by parties undermining the election outcome, we will use our weight in the chamber to hold all three parties to account,” McVey told Glasgow’s Herald newspaper, as if the mess a new administration will inherit has nothing to do with him or the miserable financial settlement for which his party is entirely responsible.

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Considering three-quarters of voters did not vote SNP, if anything an arrangement between three parties whose combined support was 57 per cent of the vote better reflects the election outcome than one with 15 points less, and the same goes for the total number of councillors.

Of course, the Conservative group could sit on their hands today and, like the railways, watch the SNP-Green administration struggle with paralysis, but would that be in the city’s best interests? Letting the SNP continue to ride roughshod over public opposition to so much of their programme would be even less so.

The other parties might not like it, but just as the eight Green councillors could make or break decisions in the last council, in the absence of a last-minute Labour-SNP deal that mantle now falls to the Conservatives.

Perhaps SNP MSPs and MPs didn’t realise Councillor McVey and co were going with empty cap-in-hand to the Conservative group when they sent a desperate last minute anti-Tory diatribe to Councillor Day, which conveniently glossed over the fact that an SNP-Green arrangement needs Conservative co-operation too.

Politicians bleating about politicians doing deals thanks to a system which requires political deals is just barking at the moon and howling is no less than should be expected from a leader who has regularly played the victim card.

But in a land where grudge and grievance has become the new national religion, should we be surprised?