Edinburgh Council: We need to talk about Kevin and ask 'just what is the point of voting Lib Dem?' – Adam McVey

Congratulations to the newest member of the council, Fiona Bennett. It isn’t easy coming into a council during the term and I wish her well in representing residents in Corstorphine/Murrayfield.
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My sincere thanks to SNP candidate Donald Rutherford for a determined effort to get our positive, progressive message out. This was a difficult campaign but by coming second again, the SNP has shown Edinburgh West really only has two parties with any significant support.

Following the Lib Dem’s by-election win, they’ve bravely decided to stay out of the firing line and keep low-profile roles within the Labour/Tory administration instead of making any big play for power. However, nobody is in any doubt that it’s Kevin Lang, not Cammy Day, now calling the shots in the centre-right coalition.

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While Labour are taking their marching orders from the Tories and increasingly the Lib Dems, they’re also failing across the board to lead and deliver for Edinburgh. In ten months, Labour have been held in contempt of council for their shambolic handling of Edinburgh’s Christmas and signed up to the Forth Green Freeport, circumventing council to widespread condemnation. Each time, “furious” Lib Dem councillors derided Labour as incompetent and asleep on the job, followed by a Kevin Lang’s full-throated endorsement of their partnership. The Lib Dems are happy supporting failure and incompetence as long as they get their way.

Labour are now implementing Lib Dem policies, a Lib Dem budget and are totally beholden to them and their Tory partners for everything. There are still a few differences. Luckily most are resolved when Labour abandon any sense that they have principles, which they’re only too happy to do. However, at a recent council meeting, the Labour leader refused to back inclusive education, something the Liberal Democrats, to be fair, had been steadfast on.

But Labour failing to defend inclusive education isn’t a red line for the Lib Dems, just another thing they can explain away. Their goal is to try and push their agenda without facing any accountability. Labour having to implement their budget being a great example.

However, Labour voting to end no compulsory redundancies and privatise council services wasn’t the only problem in the budget. The centre-right coalition eradicated pupil support officers, the team that works with vulnerable kids and families to drive up attendance and attainment. This was, in our view, a far more shameful abandonment of progressive values which will damage Edinburgh’s young people.

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Labour, Lib Dems and Tories have effectively killed off the entire council house building programme. In just ten months their incompetence has undone years of work and will rob the city of thousands of homes for social rent, causing misery for thousands of families.

Lib Dem group leader Kevin Lang and the party's candidate Fiona Bennett after the Corstorphine/Murrayfield byelection result was announcedLib Dem group leader Kevin Lang and the party's candidate Fiona Bennett after the Corstorphine/Murrayfield byelection result was announced
Lib Dem group leader Kevin Lang and the party's candidate Fiona Bennett after the Corstorphine/Murrayfield byelection result was announced

They also ended free tram travel for under-22s, and lost the opportunities of the progressive alternative SNP/Green budget. Ours was a budget which faced up to the issues in our city, showing an alternative to all of the above and allocating more to vital areas like rape crisis services, community centres and youth work.

If the Lib Dems aren’t in politics to solve our city’s biggest problems but purely to take low-profile, paid roles while cleverly wriggling out of any accountability, it begs the question: what’s the point of voting Lib Dem?

Adam McVey is SNP group leader on Edinburgh Council

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