Edinburgh Council: Why Labour's deal with rejected Tories will make cost-of-living crisis worse – Angus Robertson MSP

Edinburgh deserves better. Labour and the Tories have joined forces to take over the City of Edinburgh Council.

Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 4:55 am

It didn’t need to happen. It shouldn’t have happened. By far the largest party elected on May 5, the SNP extended an offer to Labour to find an agreement to continue running the council for the coming term.

To their shame, Labour put aside the pursuit of progressive, citizen-focussed, greener city values and clubbed together with the Tories to form an administration.

Labour did this having elected only 13 of 63 councillors. It says much that only 11 of Labour's own councillors voted in favour of the deal – two knew this was a betrayal of their core party values. For the rest, the prospect of a unionist coalition was more important than sticking to party values.

In the first meeting of the council, new council leader Cammy Day had the gall to say that “no deals with any parties” were made and “no coalitions with any parties” were formed.

Unsurprisingly, the council chamber erupted with laughter. His credibility as council leader, if any had been garnered to begin with, was decimated without a single full council meeting under his belt. His claim is provably false, given Conservative councillors are to be given paid licensing jobs by Labour in the coming term.

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The 12 elected Liberal Democrats – who we already know are more than happy to team up with the Tories in any administration – have made a similar pact with Labour. This means more Lib Dems voted for the Labour administration than Labour councillors.

Edinburgh voters rejected the party of Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross (Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/WPA pool/Getty Images)

The biggest insult to the people of Edinburgh comes from empowering the city’s nine Conservative councillors. This is half the number elected in 2017. The Tories were resoundingly rejected by the people of Edinburgh, yet Labour has made them kingmakers.

To be clear: the people of Edinburgh rejected the Tories because it is led in the UK by a Prime Minister who partied in No 10 while he told the people of Edinburgh and across the UK that they could not see dying friends and relatives.

Residents rejected the Tories because its cowardly Scottish leader Douglas Ross fell into line and defended his law-breaking boss.

They rejected the Tories because they do not want a party that cuts protections and services for the poorest and most vulnerable anywhere near local or national government.

They rejected the Tories because so many new Scots who called Edinburgh their home feel they are no longer welcome under Johnson’s Brexit Britain.

Labour promised its voters that its councillors would work to tackle the serious cost-of-living crisis and that it would oppose the harmful policies of the UK Government. Very simply, the Labour party cannot do so while it shares any common cause with the Conservative Party.

Indeed, Labour working with the Tories is giving credence and justification to their actions. The people of Edinburgh know this. They won’t forget it.

The SNP will continue to work for the people of Edinburgh and promote our vision for a European capital for the future. SNP councillors in Edinburgh are ready to help, their contact details can be found on the Edinburgh Council website, and I encourage all to get in touch.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary