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A series of bilateral talks between negotiating teams from the SNP, Labour, Lib Dems and Greens took place over the weekend.
But Labour’s scope for making any deals is restricted by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar’s opposition to any formal agreement with other parties, a stance endorsed by the party’s Scottish executive yesterday.
That leaves an SNP-Green coalition still looking the most likely outcome, but it would be short of the 32 council seats needed an overall majority. And it is understood both SNP group leader Adam McVey and the Greens are keen to avoid the precarious position of being a minority administration, knowing the opposition parties can combine to defeat them on almost any issue.
But if Labour is unable to offer a “confidence and supply” deal – pledging support to keep them in power – it is unlikely the Lib Dems would do so, and the new administration would have to rely on seeking support from other parties on an issue-by-issue basis.
The SNP emerged from Thursday’s election as the biggest party with 19 seats, Labour has 13, the Lib Dems 12, Greens 10 and Tories nine.
Labour group leader Cammy Day is said to have been ready to renew the SNP-Labour partnership which operated for the past five years as a minority coalition, but which would now have a majority. And Adam McVey was said to be “not averse” to such a deal, though one source said the SNP group might be more reluctant.
Other options which have been floated include a Labour-Lib Dem-Green combination, which would also create a majority. But that would be cutting out the SNP, the biggest party, and the party with which the Greens are in partnership at Holyrood. One source familiar with the negotiations said: “The Greens have been suggesting they are open to arrangements that don’t involve the SNP, but I don’t think anyone is convinced. They know where their votes come from nowadays, I cannot see them acting in a way that excludes the SNP from the running the capital city.”
A Labour-Lib Dem coalition was another option suggested, but seems unlikely since it would be at constant risk of defeat from a the SNP and Greens combining to vote against it.
The talks over the weekend saw the parties’ negotiating teams, usually three-strong and led by their group leader, holding meetings with each other in the City Chambers or online to explore potential deals. Further such talks are expected to take place today. An SNP group meeting later today will get an update on negotiations from Councillor McVey. The Labour group meets tonight to hear from Councillor Day.
Green group co-convener Steve Burgess said it was up to the SNP and Labour to say whether they planned to continue in partnership. He said: “That is the only two-party majority coalition possible. They need to work out whether they are going to do that. If not, then there is a range of three-party options which can be looked at.”