Council elections: Alex Cole-Hamilton open to coalition with Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to oust SNP in Edinburgh

Alex Cole-Hamilton said he would be open to a coalition with the Tories after saying his party would not back "failing" SNP-led council administrations in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The party leader also said the Lib Dems would not reject deals with the SNP in certain local councils yet ruled out a coalition agreement between the two parties at a national level.

Edinburgh has had an SNP/Labour coalition since 2017 and Mr Cole-Hamilton insisted his party would not prop up SNP administrations in the Capital and Glasgow.

The Edinburgh Western MSP said he would be open to a partnership if the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Edinburgh found “common ground”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, who has said his party will free councils from SNP "power grabs". (Photo: Lesley Martin/PA Wire).

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He added the Conservatives would have to lay aside their “vehement” views on transport and environment issues if there was a Lib Dem and Conservative coalition in Edinburgh.

It comes as Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has rejected coalitions with the SNP and the Tories while the Greens will not share power with the Conservatives.

Speaking on the day of his party’s local government manifesto launch in Edinburgh, Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “It’s clear that Edinburgh residents are not happy with the current administration.

"I think the SNP in particular have taken the city for granted.

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“The Tories are not in administration in the city of Edinburgh council. If we can lay aside some of their, I think, more vehement and unhelpful views around the environment and transport, things like that, then if we can find enough common ground, and my group leaders felt compelled to forge such an alliance then I would support that."

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Mr Cole-Hamilton said any coalitions between the two parties in other council areas would be up to group leaders based on what they thought was “appropriate” in their area.

The Liberal Democrats are currently in council coalitions with the Tories in Aberdeenshire, East Dunbartonshire, and Argyll & Bute and with Labour in the Highland.

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Ahead of the May 5 elections, the Scottish Liberal Democrats announced policies including a cost-of-living rescue package which proposes a VAT cut worth £600 to every household.

The manifesto also includes putting a stop to the SNP’s social care takeover, introducing hundreds more counsellors in schools and the protection of local council budgets after repeated budget cuts from the Scottish Government.

A key feature of the party’s manifesto plans seek to remove the “power surge” of SNP ministers in Holyrood as far as local government decision-making is concerned.

Mr Cole-Hamilton added: “In our party the Scottish leader does not tell council group leaders what to do.

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"We don’t regard local authority elections in the same way that we would regard elections to the Scottish Parliament.

"These are local issues at stake. It’s about how do we best solve the problems that affect local communities.”

Visiting Glasgow on Tuesday, the Scottish and UK Labour leaders called both rejected any possibility of the party working with the SNP at a local or national level.

Asked about the SNP's record in power, Keir Starmer said: "The SNP do what they always do - which is to try to use the constitutional issue to mask their own failures.

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"You don't need to scratch away much when it comes to wages, health and education of people in Scotland to see the failure that is the SNP Government.”

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