Edinburgh SNP's internal bickering and petty vindictiveness is becoming increasingly obvious – John McLellan

It might surprise some of the Facebook conspiracy theorists quoted in the Evening News earlier this week that I have every sympathy for SNP councillor Kate Campbell after a pretty horrible banner attacking her work-rate was tied to a railing in Portobello.
This banner attacking SNP councillor Kate Campbell was not the work of Conservatives, says John McLellanThis banner attacking SNP councillor Kate Campbell was not the work of Conservatives, says John McLellan
This banner attacking SNP councillor Kate Campbell was not the work of Conservatives, says John McLellan

I can’t vouch for how she handles her casework, but unusually for an SNP committee convener she does make an effort to speak to members of the other parties, including the Conservatives, to see if common ground can be found in advance of the meetings she chairs.

The outcomes might be no less to our liking than in other committees, but at least the rancour which characterises so much of other council business has been drastically reduced.

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So it was with some surprise that the Evening News published what was, to put it politely, a fanciful conspiracy theory plucked from social media that the banner was the work of evil Tories out to do her in.

However, matters were explained by another contributor with an inside knowledge of the SNP in Edinburgh East that it was a very public sign of bitter internal rivalries in advance of the selection process for next May’s council elections. All is apparently not sweetness and light in Portobello & Craigmillar.

Unlike, it would appear, some SNP activists, we have better things to do than skulk under cover of darkness to stick up abusive propaganda when there is any amount of policy failure and disconnection with public opinion for us to highlight, not least of which is the SNP-led administration’s inability to get anywhere close to meeting the city’s affordable housing needs which is Cllr Campbell’s main objective.

There is a history of splits within East Edinburgh SNP, with the 2017 candidates for Craigentinny & Duddingston being replaced at the last minute after a falling out, and it’s not as if division within the SNP in Edinburgh is any big secret, with a succession of councillors walking away for different reasons.

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First to go was planning convener Lewis Ritchie, then economy convener Gavin Barrie departed after Cllr Campbell ousted him from his convenership of the old housing and economy committee. Claire Bridgman followed in July 2018, with whom he formed the independent councillors’ group, and last year equalities champion Derek Howie said his farewells.

It must only be due to her unstinting personal commitment to young people and education that Children & Families vice-convener Alison Dickie has not yet departed, when her leader has failed to support her on at least three occasions after she was subjected to public abuse by the unrepentant Labour leader Cammy Day.

For all council leader Adam McVey’s commitment to equalities, it’s quite extraordinary that he has failed to defend Cllr Dickie after what sounded very like a misogynistic and pointedly ageist attack on a senior member of his team.

But if I’d denigrated a female SNP councillor with an enquiring mind as a “Miss Marple”, then I’ve little doubt Cllr McVey would have banged in a complaint to Public Standards, the Press regulator, the Procurator Fiscal, the Patriarch of Constantinople or anyone who’d listen before you could say Joan Hickson.

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This administration’s representatives might not remember their time for its achievements, but they won’t forget its petty vindictiveness. And we don’t need banners to remind them.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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