Steve Cardownie: Snipers should train sights on opposition

Councillor Gordon Munro is critical of the council's stance on spending cuts. Picture: Neil Hanna
Councillor Gordon Munro is critical of the council's stance on spending cuts. Picture: Neil Hanna
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It would appear that the internal debate within the Capital coalition regarding its future is continuing apace and whilst there is no evidence that its longevity is under serious threat, its detractors are undeterred and are pressing on with their negative ­strategy.

The unanimous view within the SNP Group is that the coalition ­provides the most effective vehicle for progressing local initiatives and that view is supported by an overwhelming majority in the Labour Group. ­However, it is not a view shared by all.

Councillor Scott Arthur wrote a joint letter the the news with Cllr Munro. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Councillor Scott Arthur wrote a joint letter the the news with Cllr Munro. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Since last week’s column, two Labour councillors that I cited as being anti-coalition (Gordon Munro and Scott Arthur) submitted a letter to this newspaper attempting to ­justify their actions but did not address their attitude towards the existence of the coalition and whether or not they were, by their efforts, undermining the Labour Party’s partnership with the SNP and were, in fact, encouraging its demise.

Of course, it is entirely legitimate for these two councillors to take the view that the Capital coalition should be broken up but that opinion is not shared by the majority of the Labour Group. Nor is it the policy of the party nationally, which endorsed the formation of the coalition. That view may well change depending on future political expediency but for the moment the coalition enjoys the support of both parties at national level.

I served as Deputy Council Leader under two coalitions, one with the Liberal Democrats and the other with Labour and although it was not always plain sailing they both lasted their full council term.

Not every councillor in each group was ecstatic at the prospect of power sharing with the other party but given the circumstances thrown up by the local government election it was deemed to be the best way forward for the city’s administration.

Working in partnership with another party should mean that each respects the position of the other and dictates that each should endeavour to find common ground. The last Labour/SNP coalition had to steer a path through the independence referendum of 2014, where both party’s national policies were diametrically opposed to each other but the coalition decided to put its national differences aside and concentrate on delivering joint policies for the city. Commendably, this was successfully achieved.

Councillors in their respective groups debated and decided upon their policy in relation to the formation of the coalition and both groups arrived at the decision that it offered the best way forward.

Councillors Arthur and Munro argued the contrary but were outvoted at their group meeting. Well, that’s democracy but by their constant carping and criticising, not only are they undermining their SNP partners, but also the majority in their own group. It is hardly likely to be heralded as the epitome of partnership working nor does it set a prime example of accepting the democratic decisions made by the group.

It is, of course, a matter for the Labour Group how they deal with this matter, as it should be, but it is little wonder that the other parties on the council can hardly contain themselves (particularly the Tories) as they gleefully look on.

Talk about playing into the hands of the opposition!

Setting the record straight

In last week’s column I wrote about the internal stresses within the Capital coalition and in particular the Labour Party’s attitude at a national level to its formation. I pointed out in my original copy that the Scottish Labour Party’s National Executive took an inordinate amount of time to give its formal approval to the city’s Labour Group joining with the SNP to form an administration. Unfortunately, due to a production error, it read that the SNP National Executive Committee had dragged its heels, which was not the case as I have explained above and should have been obvious 
to most readers given the tenor of the piece. I am happy to set the record straight.

Corbyn out of step with EU vote marchers

The internal bickering within the Conservative Party shows no signs of abating, with the criticism of Theresa May taking on an alarming tone which exposes the level of vitriol that only the most shallow of Conservative politicians can muster.

As she tries to put a gloss on her Brexit negotiations by reassuring us that a deal is 95 per cent complete, some members of her government would appear to show no signs of letting up in their attempts to remove her from office.

However, the Brexiteers who brazenly embraced a campaign of falsehoods during the referendum are becoming ever more nervous about their prospects after witnessing hundreds of thousands of protestors marching through the streets of London last Saturday in support of remaining in the EU.

Predictably, given his pathetic record on the matter, one of the loudest chants of the day was: “Where’s Jeremy Corbyn?” Where indeed!

Climate needs a change of attitude

A meeting on climate change under the banner of Hope Facing An Overheated Climate takes place on Tuesday, October 30, at the Edinburgh University’s George Square Lecture Theatre, starting at 6pm. The meeting is to be addressed by Professor Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester. He will brief MSPs that afternoon on the implications of the Paris Agreement and the role that Scotland can play before speaking at the meeting that evening.

He is one of the UK’s foremost researchers and commentators on the impending climate disruption and he is regularly involved across all tiers of government on issues such as shale gas, aviation and shipping to the role of climate modelling, carbon budgets and negative emission technologies.

Although I have never been overly involved in this subject before, I am becoming increasingly aware of the impending threat and the consequences of inaction.

With Donald Trump seemingly firmly entrenched in the White House (and gearing up for a second term no less) and some leaders displaying an astonishing level of complacency, it is imperative that we act now or our legacy to our children will be forever tarnished.

Professor Anderson is well aware of the danger and his voice is well worth hearing.