Local SNP need to make use of the ‘levers’ of power - John McLellan

​Blackmail is such an ugly word. The modern euphemism is levers and Edinburgh Council’s SNP group sought to use the “lever” of threatening to withdraw funding from Edinburgh Leisure, the charitable company which runs the city’s sports centres on the council’s behalf, if it didn’t pay all staff the real living wage.
Surely, councillors argued, the council should pay Edinburgh Leisure enough to keep all facilities open and pay the real living wage too?Surely, councillors argued, the council should pay Edinburgh Leisure enough to keep all facilities open and pay the real living wage too?
Surely, councillors argued, the council should pay Edinburgh Leisure enough to keep all facilities open and pay the real living wage too?

But the company has an estimated deficit of £750,000, and isn’t in a position to pay all its 800 staff the real living wage of £12 an hour, as the SNP demanded at Tuesday’s Policy & Sustainability committee.

Cue howls of outrage when it was pointed out that forcing the company to pay more than it could afford would result in redundancies and closures.

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But surely, they argued, the council should just pay Edinburgh Leisure enough to keep all facilities open and pay the real living wage too?

Indeed, but thanks to the SNP, Edinburgh is the worst-funded council per person in Scotland, faced a £76 million funding gap at the end of last year, was forced to cut its health and social care budget by £33m in June, and has just been told by the SNP it can’t increase the Council Tax.

So, what “levers” do the local SNP have with their political masters in Holyrood to give Edinburgh a fair deal? In the five years I was a councillor, the answer was the square root of hee-haw, which is why services were slashed year after year. At least Labour woke up and forced the local party to lever the SNP out of power.