Edinburgh council coalition talks: Labour rules out any deal with SNP to run city

Edinburgh’s Labour group has officially ruled out any deal with the SNP to run the Capital.

By Ian Swanson
Sunday, 15th May 2022, 12:52 pm

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A meeting of Labour councillors on Thursday night agreed to make it clear there would be no renewal of the partnership which saw the two parties in a joint administration for the past five years.

Labour’s Scottish leadership has long said it does not want any formal coalitions, but sources say Labour group leader Cammy Day had hoped there could still be some kind of agreement between the SNP and Labour in Edinburgh. And SNP group leader Adam McVey has said a renewed SNP-Labour coalition would be the most obvious way forward since it is the only two-party combination which would have a majority.

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One option understood to have been floated was that rather than a coalition, there could be a looser agreement where Labour would support the SNP in return for some posts in the administration.

But an insider said the consensus at Thursday’s Labour group meeting was there should be no deal with the SNP and a statement should be issued to that effect. "Cammy seemed totally deflated when he realised there wasn’t going to be a deal.”

It is understood the group agreed instead to seek talks with the Lib Dems and the Greens to see if a three-party agreement was possible, but there is scepticism about whether either of these parties would want to enter such an arrangement.

Following last week’s elections, the SNP is the biggest party on the council once again with 19 seats, Labour has 13, the Lib Dems 12, Green 10 and Tories nine. Talks have been taking place between various parties since the results came out last Friday.

Sources say Labour group leader Cammy Day had hoped to continue the SNP-Labour coalition.

An SNP-Green coalition has been seen as an obvious option, given the two parties’ partnership in the Scottish Government, but they have both voiced concerns that without a majority such a coalition would be at constant risk of defeat on key issues if the opposition parties combined.

A Green source told the Evening News earlier this week that coalition was not the only option the party was considering for any deal with the SNP. A looser co-operation agreement or confidence and supply – where a smaller party pledges to back a larger one on key votes to keep them in power – were alternative models.

A Lib Dem source indicated they would be open to talks on a three-way deal with Labour and the Greens, but emphasised they would want safeguards to ensure it was a stable arrangement. "We would be happy to have conversations that looked at that as an option, but a three-party arrangement has never been done in Edinburgh before and it would be very different, so it would need to be a proper partnership that provided certainty for all those involved."

The Greens said they had always said they were open to talk with any party, except the Tories, and that had not changed, but noted that Scottish Labour leader had said his party would not form coalitions with any other party. Co-convener Steve Burgess said: “It would be good if parties could clarify what they are able to do.”

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