Councillor returns to cabinet just weeks after top job exit

Lisa Beattie has returned to Midlothian Council
Lisa Beattie has returned to Midlothian Council
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IN three short months her political career has seen more ups and downs than a bush kangaroo in the Australian outback.

But now Councillor Lisa Beattie has bounced back into a senior role at Midlothian Council – just weeks after resigning from the top job amid claims of rebellion within her party.

The SNP councillor, who stepped down as leader five weeks into the role, has returned to cabinet in a move described by opposition members as “an absolute shambles”.

Rival Labour members voted unanimously against her re-appointment to the education brief and said the reputation of the ruling SNP administration had been badly tarnished over the affair.

But independent councillor Peter De Vink, who is in coalition with the SNP, hit back at Labour members, calling them “thoroughly incompetent baboons”.

Cllr Beattie became the first ever female leader of the local authority after her party trumped Labour in May’s elections, ending its 84-year stranglehold on power.

In June, the News told of claims she had been forced to resign or face a vote of no confidence by party rebels.

Speaking about her cabinet return, Labour group leader Derek Milligan said: “People are going to think it’s absolutely astonishing that Lisa has been brought back.

“The credibility of the SNP/independent coalition is absolutely nil and the nickname of ‘Carry on Council’ is going to stick.”

He added: “From what I’ve heard, there was a general problem with tantrums and Lisa demanding unanimous obedience or threatening to leave.”

When quizzed by the News, Cllr Bob Constable, who took over at the helm following Beattie’s departure, confirmed she would resume a cabinet role.

Defending her reappointment, Cllr Beattie said: “There’s no point going over the past – people in Midlothian are very fed up this, they want us to get on with the job.

“When I stood for re-election back in May, I stood to serve in whatever capacity I can be of most use to the people of Midlothian. I’m confident from what I have heard from constituents that they value what I do.”

Cllr De Vink said: “This is the first time Labour has been out of office in 84 years and they are vitriolic.

“Now they are gunning for Lisa, who is very talented and competent, but just had one shortcoming – the ability to delegate.

“Labour are trying to make Lisa feel like she can’t stand it any more so that she will leave and they can have a by-election.

“Lisa is fantastic with the community and adored by her constituents. She has more competence than any of them.”

Never out of the headlines

THEY say a week is a long time in politics – and Lisa Beattie has crammed an entire career into a few months.

In May, a triumphant Beattie became Midlothian’s first female leader after the SNP ousted Labour from power for the first time in 84 years.

She vowed to work with all other groups to improve services in the county, but within weeks she was in the headlines for the wrong reasons, when the Evening News revealed that Cllr Beattie and her husband, Colin, MSP for Midlothian North & Musselburgh, were locked in a row with neighbours who claimed the couple have shown “incompetence” as landlords of their owned-to-rent Marchmont flat.

By June 27, she appeared to have been cast into the political wilderness, after she resigned as council leader, giving no reason for her departure.

It followed reports of a party rebellion and threats that there would be a vote of no confidence if she did not stand down.