Edinburgh council: Labour minority administration plan submitted for party approval

Plans for a Labour minority administration to run the Capital were being put to Scottish party bosses for approval today.

By Ian Swanson
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 12:59 pm

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Edinburgh's Labour group leader Cammy Day was understood to be submitting his proposals to a sub-committee of Labour’s Scottish Executive Committee, headed by deputy Scottish Labour leader Jackie Baillie.

The plan, which would see "non-political" posts like licensing board chair offered to Lib Dem councillors, was backed by the council’s Labour group on Sunday night. And when it was discussed on Monday night by the Edinburgh party's local government committee, which has representatives of party members, trade unions and councillors, there were said to have been voices for and against, but no vote.

The Lib Dems have told Labour they are willing in principle to back the party as a minority administration, but a Lib Dem source said they were yet to receive details of the proposal Labour will put to the full council meeting on Thursday when the key appointments are to be filled.

The source said: "We are open to the idea of supporting a Labour minority administration on the basis that it is going to deliver real change at Edinburgh council. One of the reasons we shut down discussions with the SNP was simply a feeling we were going to get five more years of the same and we did not double our number of councillors three weeks ago on the basis of delivering five more years of the same.

“We have been encouraged by the way Labour has talked about changing the approach and culture of the council, but it really comes down to the final proposal they present on Thursday. I’m hoping we will hear more from them today.”

Following the May 5 elections, the SNP is the biggest party on the council with 19 seats, Labour has 13, the Lib Dems 12, Greens 10 and Tories nine.

Labour group leader Cammy Day is seeking backing for the minority administration proposal.

Some Labour members are unhappy that, although party sources insist no posts will be offered to the Tories, the plan for a minority Labour administration would depend on the Tories as well as the Lib Dems voting for it at Thursday's council meeting against the alternative proposal of an SNP-Green minority coalition. If the Tories abstained it would allow the SNP-Green bid to win.

Others are concerned about how Labour, with 13 councillors, would manage to fill all the posts involved in the administration, even once the non-political ones are given to Lib Dems. Some Labour councillors have full-time jobs which would make it difficult for them to take on major council roles and others are said to have decided they do not want to take committee convenerships. One option mentioned is to scrap vice-convener posts to reduce the number of places to be filled.

Meanwhile Green party members in Edinburgh will hold a special branch meeting tonight to decide whether to approve the draft coalition agreement negotiated with the SNP. SNP councillors gave their backing to the deal on Sunday.

The SNP has already announced it has nominated Lib Dem group leader Robert Aldridge to be the city’s next Lord Provost.

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