Edinburgh Council: SNP hopes to widen Labour group splits that could bring Cammy Day's administration down – Steve Cardownie
It was reported last week that Labour councillor Ross McKenzie had been suspended from the group as a result of breaking ranks and voting with the opposition in a bid to speed up the review of the council’s decision to ban strip clubs from next April.
It would seem, however, that Councillor McKenzie is refusing to take his medicine quietly and has hit out at the Labour leadership. He has complained that “Labour councillors are not included in policy discussions and often only discover Labour policy at the point at which we are being told how to vote”.
He further asserted that the Labour group is using “Tory votes” to prop up the administration in reference to the decision to allow the Conservative group to fill two minor non-political council positions in return for their support of Labour forming an administration.
Councillor McKenzie continued to go on the offensive by lambasting the Labour leadership for making important decisions “with a small inner circle who go to great lengths to avoid discussion and accountability”. As you would expect group leader Cammy Day sounds like he is royally peed off at this latest bout of boat-rocking and has hit back, saying that Councillor McKenzie had failed to raise any concerns that he had at the weekly Labour group meetings and that he was disappointed that he had “decided to take what was a private discussion to the media”.
The SNP group is obviously taking a keen interest in this issue as they seek to exploit any weakness in the administration’s unity and are moving an amendment to tomorrow’s full council meeting calling for the dismissal of the two Conservative councillors who hold “official positions”.
The last time this matter was put to a vote, Councillor McKenzie and his fellow Labour councillor, Katrina Faccenda, abstained and were suspended from the Labour group for two months for their trouble. This time round if they abstain again or even vote with the opposition, the amendment is still destined to fail given the votes that will be cast against it.
The SNP group will be all too aware of this but will be content to try and drive another wedge into the Labour group in the hope that this might herald its demise as the party of administration, allowing them to assume control as the largest group on the council.
It is, of course, one thing to argue that the positions held by the Conservatives are superfluous and were only created to give them profile but quite another to argue that they should not be in these positions just because they are Conservatives. That ship has already sailed and, given that it was reported that SNP group leader Adam McVey offered the Conservatives the position of Deputy Lord Provost in return for not opposing an SNP administration, it brings to mind glasshouses and stones.
One thing for sure is that, with the SNP and Greens snapping at his heels, the last thing Cammy Day needs right now is internal strife.