​Three in the frame to replace Adam as SNP group leader - Steve Cardownie

​Councillor Adam Nols-McVey’s announcement earlier this month that he is to step down as the SNP group leader on the City of Edinburgh Council has predictably led to speculation as to who will take his place.
Cllr Kate CampbellCllr Kate Campbell
Cllr Kate Campbell

Nominations open on 16 April and close on the 23rd with the new leader to be elected at the SNP group’s annual general meeting on the 30th.

Although potential candidates are keeping their cards close to their chests, I can hazard a guess as to who will emerge as the front runners.

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As a former leader of an SNP group on the City Council for more years than I care to remember, I obviously have views on the internal politics of the City Chambers and the highs and lows of group leadership.

Cllr Lesley Macinnes 
SNP Councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton 
Transport and Environment ConvenerCllr Lesley Macinnes 
SNP Councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton 
Transport and Environment Convener
Cllr Lesley Macinnes SNP Councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton Transport and Environment Convener

Although I am not a member of any political party, writing this column dictates that I must cast more than a casual glance in the High Street’s direction if I am to express an opinion on what makes Edinburgh what it is today.

The City Council’s policies affect each and every one of us in one way or another. From finance, housing, schools, libraries, transport, environment, roads, sport, museums and theatres, down to bin collections to name a few.

The Edinburgh public cannot escape from council decisions that have a direct bearing on their lives. So, councillors must take their public service role seriously if they are to make a difference.

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And the role of SNP group leader, the largest group on the council with 17 members, is a senior position that should not be taken lightly.

Cllr Marco BiagiCllr Marco Biagi
Cllr Marco Biagi

Although it is extremely unlikely that the new leader will ever lead an administration – at least for the remaining term of this council - it is important that the party sets out its stall definitively and demonstrates what it would do if it still held the reins of power up in the High Street.

My guess is that the new SNP leader will emerge from within a small group of three, namely, Councillors Lesley Macinnes, Kate Campbell and Marco Biagi - and it is no accident that I have listed them in that order.

MacInnes is has been deputy leader of the group for the last seven years and is currently the party’s finance spokesperson.

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Although currently the deputy leader, that does not necessarily mean that she is a shoo-in for the position of leader, although she might be favourite at the moment.

As the architect of the Spaces for People programme, she is perhaps fortunate that this electorate is confined to fellow group members.

Campbell, a councillor for the last seven years, currently convenes the Governance, Risk and Best Value Committee, which scrutinises the council decisions on financial matters and actively pursues housing and fair wage issues.

Biagi, was an MSP from 2011 to 2016 and was Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment from 2014 to 2016. He has been a councillor for two years.

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He obviously has political experience at a higher level than the other two but his short tenure as a councillor might count against him.

Of course, someone may come from out of left field and claim the prize, but if that happens I will, as they say, eat my hat.

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