SNP to lead Edinburgh council alone if coalition deal fails

New SNP group leader Adam McVey. Picture: TSPL
New SNP group leader Adam McVey. Picture: TSPL
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THE Capital’s SNP leaders today insisted they are ready to lead the city – with or without Labour.

A coalition deal agreed between the SNP and Labour groups at the City Chambers on Wednesday was put on hold when Labour’s Scottish executive committee (SEC) asked for more details before they would approve it.

It now looks as if it will be the middle of next week at the earliest before an agreement can be formally signed.

The SNP, which is now the biggest party on the council with 19 seats, believes a partnership with the 12-strong Labour group would offer the most stable administration for the city, following the Labour-led coalition with the SNP which held power for the past five years.

SNP group leader Adam McVey said: “The SNP is ready to lead the city – we have a deal to lead the city with Labour, but if Labour are banned from joining that by their unelected star chamber we would still lead the city.

“Our intention is to form the next administration in one form or another.”

The Conservatives came out of the elections with 18 seats, just one behind the SNP, while the Greens now have eight and the Lib Dems six.

Cllr McVey said any attempt by the Tories to form a minority administration would be voted down in the council chamber.

“People in the city did not vote for their agenda, whereas the SNP agenda has a lot of synergy with almost every other party bar the Tories.”

It is understood the agreement reached between the SNP and Labour groups included “heads of terms”, outlining the main issues which the coalition would face, but not any share-out of jobs in a new administration.

However, there are now expected to be further discussions on new committee structures and convener and vice-convener posts in the hope of having a more detailed plan to unveil if and when the deal gets the go-ahead.

Although Labour’s SEC meets each day at 6pm to consider any coalition proposals from Labour groups across Scotland, it is unlikely to 
consider the Edinburgh deal again until next Tuesday. That would follow a meeting between the Labour council group and the party’s local campaign forum, made up of party members in the city, due to take place on Monday evening.

Negotiations on a coalition have been dogged by claims of “interference” from Labour figures who fear a deal with the SNP would undermine efforts to save Ian Murray’s 
Edinburgh South seat in the general election.

City Labour group leader Cammy Day said his focus was on delivering a coalition that would stand up for Edinburgh. “This about local government for the capital city. We need to leave it to others to focus on national issues. But we are in the midst of a general election and that will be playing on some people’s minds.”

Meanwhile, West Lothian Council’s first meeting since the elections ended after just eight minutes yesterday.

Rather than proceed with trying to appoint a provost and other posts, councillors agreed unanimously to adjourn until next Thursday.

The SNP has 13 seats on the council, Labour 12, the Conservatives seven and there is one independent. Talks on an administration are said to be ongoing.