Edinburgh council coalition talks: Labour set to rule out any deal with SNP

Edinburgh Labour leader Cammy Day is expected to issue a statement today, officially ruling out any deal with the SNP to run the Capital.

By Ian Swanson
Friday, 13th May 2022, 12:27 pm

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A meeting of the Labour councillors last night agreed to make it clear there would be no renewal of the partnership between the two parties which has seen them operate a joint administration for the past five years.

Labour’s Scottish leadership has said it does not want any formal coalitions, but sources say Councillor 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 last night’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 there should be 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.

Labour's Cammy Day was deputy council leader for the past five years.

Talks have been taking place between various parties in online calls and in person at the City Chambers since the results came out last Friday.

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 yesterday 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.

Cammy Day has been leader of the council’s Labour group since the last elections in 2017, when he took over from Andrew Burns who had stepped down from the council. And he has served as deputy council leader in the SNP-Labour coalition for the past five years. But it took six weeks to get that coalition in place, largely because the general election was taking place at the time and Labour nationally did not want to be seen doing deals with the Nationalists. Councillor Day later described the period as the most challenging six weeks of his life, as he sought to forge a deal amid internal debate and external pressures.

He formed a good working relationship with Councillor McVey, but there were always critics in the local party who believed Labour was being damaged by being associated with the SNP and spending cuts.

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