Edinburgh council elections 2022: 'Rainbow' coalition plan looks doomed

Labour’s proposal for a rainbow coalition to run Edinburgh after the council elections looks doomed as voters go to the polls today.

By Ian Swanson
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 5th May 2022, 7:24 am

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The suggestion of an all-party administration, put forward in a letter from Labour group leader Cammy Day, got a mixed response, but the Greens said bluntly it was a “non-starter” for them if the Tories were involved.

Cllr Day had argued that since no party would have an overall majority once the results were known tomorrow, Edinburgh should be ready to “do politics differently” to get the best for the city. And he invited the other group leaders to a meeting at noon on Saturday to discuss the move.

The SNP is widely expected to win the most seats in today’s election, but none of the parties are standing enough candidates to win a majority of seats. Although the SNP and Labour have been partners in Edinburgh’s administration for the past decade, the future of such an arrangement is in doubt because Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said he does not want his party to be involved in formal coalitions.

Adam McVey, leader of the SNP group was guarded in his reaction to the rainbow proposal. He said: "We're taking nothing for granted in this election and need to wait to see the outcome of the election and then work to implement what our residents voted for." But the SNP has a firm policy of no deals with the Tories.

Tory group leader Iain Whyte said: “We proposed this last time and we produced a proportional model to decide on the convenerships of committees and then take issues on an individual basis but it was voted down with the help of Labour votes. I'm pleased that Cammy has seen the benefit of doing things in an open way at the council and I'm happy to share with him what we proposed last time if he needs to know the structure of how to do it.”

Lib Dem group leader Robert Aldridge said: “We have always said let's co-operate, let's see if it's possible to have all the talents represented. We're happy to talk to anyone, but I'm not sure how the other parties will react.”

Cammy Day wanted to "do politics differently" with an all-party administration.

But Steve Burgess, co-convener of the Greens, recalled former Labour group leader Andrew Burns had suggested a rainbow coalition in 2012, but the idea had been rejected by the Greens. “Our position at the time was we really weren’t keen to be involved in an administration that promoted Conservative policy,” he said.

“We would find it difficult to support any administration that involved the Conservatives. They have a policy of trying to privatise council services and so on. We're so very different in our approach, its very difficult to see how it would work. It's the only party we've ruled out doing any arrangement with, so we're willing to meet other parties. But the idea of a wholesale rainbow coalition is probably a non-starter for us.”

Polling stations are open today from 7am until 10pm. Voters mark their ballot papers 1, 2, 3, etc to rank candidates in order of preference, voting for as many or as few as they wish. The counting of the votes takes place tomorrow.

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