Rivals put differences behind them as Edinburgh coalition announced


By G.A.Ponsonby
The SNP and Labour, the two biggest groups in The City of Edinburgh Council, have come to an agreement that will see them operate together to serve the best interests of the people of Edinburgh.
In an announcement that came as a surprise to many, the bitter rivals have formed an alliance that will ensure a majority administration will take the capital’s local authority forward.

The agreement follows last week’s local authority elections that saw both parties gain seats at the expense of the Lib Dems.  Labour’s tally of twenty councillors will now be joined by the SNP’s group of eighteen to form a clear majority in the 58 seat council.

The two groups held discussions over the last few days and the agreement was welcomed by both the SNP and Labour group leaders.

Andrew Burns, Labour Group leader, said: “After listening to the will of the electorate and after intense negotiations over the last few days I am delighted that we have managed to reach an agreement to lead the city of Edinburgh for the next five years.

“Edinburgh electors gave a very clear mandate to Labour and the SNP, delivering 38 out of 58 councillors.  A Labour-SNP coalition will now provide the stability and certainty needed to move Edinburgh forward.”

Steve Cardownie, SNP Group leader, said:

“The SNP looks forward to working in partnership with the Labour group with a progressive and exciting agenda to meet the challenges the city faces.

“With this strong partnership we are best placed to ensure Edinburgh serves its citizens well and emerges from the recession quickly and strongly.  Our groups’ economic policies can complement one another and we are confident they will deliver for the people of the city.”

Chief Executive Sue Bruce, who was notified of the agreement today, said: “I look forward to working with the new administration, and indeed all councillors, over the next five years.

“A successful Council needs a partnership between the elected members who set the direction and policies, and the officers charged with putting that into practice.  Together, our responsibility is to ensure that we take Edinburgh forward and make a real difference to the people who live and work here.”

The coalition parties have agreed the following division of positions: the Labour Party will nominate candidates for the positions of Leader and Lord Provost; the Scottish National Party will nominate candidates for the positions of Deputy Leader and Deputy Lord Provost.

Edinburgh constituents are sure to welcome the mature decision by both parties to work together against a backdrop of trams chaos that has blighted the city.

The alliance will raise eyebrows but many will hope that it can succeed and become a catalyst for a more constructive approach to Scottish party politics.