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In a letter to Labour group leader Cammy Day, Edinburgh Central MSP Angus Robertson and his colleagues point out the SNP is the biggest party on the council and had sought constructive talks with Labour. They continue: “While it remains the prerogative of political groups to seek agreement with others to run the council, it is only possible for Labour to form an administration if it were supported by the Conservative councillors. Put plainly, this is unthinkable. The city of Edinburgh resoundingly rejected the Conservatives in May’s elections.”
The Tories lost half their seats at the elections, going from 18 to just nine and becoming the smallest party at the City Chambers. The SNP has 19 seats, Labour 13, Lib Dems 12 and Greens 10.
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Prior to the elections, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar ruled out formal coalitions with opposition parties. Since then, Labour-run minority councils have been set up in East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Fife, Inverclyde, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian. In both West Lothian and Fife, Labour has fewer seats than the SNP.
The letter, signed by Mr Robertson and fellow SNP MSPs Ash Regan, Ben Macpherson and Gordon MacDonald, plus party MPs Tommy Sheppard, Deidre Brock and Joanna Cherry, demanded Councillor Day clarified his intentions ahead of Thursday’s meeting to form the new council.
They say: “Labour promised its voters that its councillors would work to tackle the serious cost-of-living crisis and that it would oppose the harmful policies of the UK Government. Very simply, the Labour Party cannot do so while it shares any common cause with the Conservative Party.”
And the letter warns Mr Day that any deal with the Conservatives will give “credence and justification” to the Tories’ actions, following the Partygate scandal at Downing Street.