Leader: ‘Could great foes form a coalition?’

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IF a week is a long time in politics then five months is an eternity. It’s certainly long enough to make political predictions extremely difficult.

After all, that length of time before May’s Scottish election almost every pundit and poll was forecasting a Labour win.

Before the 2010 general election threw them together, David Cameron referred to Nick Clegg as his “favourite joke”.

But, even with the dangers of political forecasting in mind, did we this week see the first tiny hint of an unlikely coming together of traditional political foes here in Edinburgh?

It’s early days but, after May, could the SNP and Labour run the city council as a coalition?

Both sides dismiss any such suggestion, and it is a fact that the two parties have been at daggers drawn for generations. That enmity has increased with the SNP’s rise and the emergence of independence as a real possibility.

Locally, there’s deep animosity too, and some of it is very personal in nature. It’s hard to imagine the SNP’s Steve Cardownie working again with ex-Labour colleagues such as Lesley Hinds and Eric Milligan.

But the central divide of independence should not be an issue at the council – serving the city best is all that should count.

And when you peel away that one great barrier, the two centre-left parties have much in common.

That is why it is possible to ask if this week’s vote on the privatisation of bin collections and other environmental services might be a sign of things to come.

Labour and the SNP voted against, coming together to humble Mr Cardownie’s Lib Dem coalition partners.

With the Lib Dem vote likely to continue to collapse, the battle to be the biggest party is a straight fight between Labour and the SNP, with the latter in pole position.

But could the two then come together to create a strong coalition to take Edinburgh forward? Stranger things have happened.