Edinburgh council coalition talks: Could an SNP-Green deal come early next week?
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Both parties said their talks were progressing well on policies for the next five years, but it is understood they have not yet had detailed discussions on the share-out of key posts in a new administration.
The full council met on Thursday morning for the first time since the election, with an agenda which included appointing a Lord Provost, council leader and committee conveners, but the online meeting was adjourned until next Thursday without dealing with any of the business.
The aim now is to agree a deal in time for next week’s meeting. The Greens, who must get the backing of local party members before they can sign any agreement, have arranged a meeting for next Tuesday to get that approval, though later dates have also been pencilled in, in case they are needed.
SNP group leader Adam McVey said: "We’re having a lot of discussion about the policies we think Edinburgh needs and we’re getting a lot of good ideas from our Green colleagues about how we can best do that, so the discussions are going well. There is a lot of agreement about how we can take Edinburgh forward, how we can tackle the immediate cost-of-living crisis, the climate crisis and how we can eradicate structural poverty from our communities.”
And a Green source said the talks had been “really constructive so far”. “We’ve got a lot in common and it seems pretty positive. We’re aiming to get something done for next week’s full council.
"We’ve had a lot of really detailed meetings, getting into the nitty gritty. We haven’t agreed on everything, but we’ve found ways of moving forward and getting constructive compromises on the table. We’re working on the basis nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
The announcement that the SNP and Greens were in formal negotiations about a coalition came on Tuesday evening, 11 days after the election results which gave the SNP 19 seats, Labour 13, the Lib Dems 12, Greens 10 and Tories nine.
Both the SNP and the Greens had previously expressed reservations about a coalition because it would not have a majority. But Councillor McVey signalled he was prepared for having to negotiate with the other three parties on an ongoing basis. He said: "I’ve spent five years as leader of a minority administration and it’s never a particularly comfortable place to be, but what is does mean is there’s a lot more engagement with opposition parties – we have to talk to each other. In a minority administration, working together is just a necessity to get anything done.”
And the Green source said: “I guess a lot of it will be appealing to the other parties that the city needs stability and they will have a role to play in that.”
Asked whether he expected a deal in time for it to be approved by next Thursday’s council meeting, Councillor McVey said: “There will be no shortage of hard work over the next few days to try to get to a position as quickly as we can, but ultimately we wil continue those discussions to make sure we get to as strong a place as possible.”