A SENIOR SNP city councillor quit the party today six weeks after being ousted from his role in the city’s administration.
Former housing and economy convener Gavin Barrie said his resignation from the SNP group was “a huge decision for me” but he felt he had no option.
In his resignation letter he said he had received no complaints about his work as convener before the group voted at its AGM to replace him with newly-elected councillor Kate Campbell.
Cllr Barrie wrote: “If hard work, diligence and success, although recognising there is always much more to do, is a recipe in some people’s eyes for dismissal and replacement I cannot maintain my self-respect and dignity if I remain as part of the SNP group and accept this.”
He said he would continue as councillor for Inverleith, sitting as an independent.
Cllr Barrie’s resignation means the minority SNP-Labour administration now has just 29 of the 63 seats on the council.
And it leaves the Tories as the biggest party, with 18 seats to the SNP’s 17, though there is little prospect of any change of administration since other parties have indicated they will not go into coalition with the Conservatives.
Cllr Barrie, a former firefighter, was elected to the council in 2012 and quickly became a key figure in the then Labour-SNP coalition. He served as convener of the regulatory and licensing sub-committees and then as economy convener. He was even seen as a possible future leader of the SNP group.
After being re-elected to the council last year, when the SNP became the biggest party at the City Chambers for the first time, he was appointed convener of housing and economy in the new SNP-Labour administration.
In his resignation letter he said he had always been industrious and noted a spreadsheet of SNP councillors’ commitments showed him to be one of the busiest members of the group.
He said immediately before the AGM last month Cllr Campbell had approached him “seeking that I stand aside from my role to let her have it, whilst basically offering me support to unseat Cllr Gardiner in the planning convener’s role”.
He continued: “I found this surprising, firstly because I had never shown any interest in the planning role and secondly because only weeks before Cllr Campbell tried to get herself elected to this role. I was further surprised that a backbencher was trying to organise who within the SNP group would get roles of extra responsibility.”
The letter, addressed to SNP group leader Adam McVey, went on: “To have also been deposed in my role as group chair and see all the internal elected posts apart from yours and the deputy leader’s change incumbents, including all other members of the group executive being replaced, might look to some as if some kind of purge has been carried out. I will leave that for others to judge.”
Cllr Barrie said he had spent most of his adult life as an active trade unionist.
“Throughout that time I fought against many workplace injustices both local and national to ensure members and colleagues were always treated with dignity and respect in their workplace roles. I don’t believe that being sacked from my role by a majority of the group at little or no notice, when there have been no adverse comments or complaints about performance, is treating someone with dignity and respect, especially the way it was carried out.
“Because what happened was within the rules of the AGM, although I believe it to be morally questionable, I have little recourse, even though I believe I have been badly treated in being replaced when working hard and getting results.”