Kezia Dugdale insists her leadership has not been undermined

Labour last night suspended its nine councillors in Aberdeen over plans to form a coalition with the Conservatives. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL
Labour last night suspended its nine councillors in Aberdeen over plans to form a coalition with the Conservatives. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL
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Kezia Dugdale has insisted that her leadership has not been undermined despite nine Aberdeen councillors defying her orders on Wednesday not to deal with the Conservatives.

On the campaign trail today the Scottish Labour leader was asked if the actions of the Aberdeen Labour group had undermined her.

“No,” she said. “Because I have been very clear that they don’t act as Labour councillors when they are passing on Tory cuts in Aberdeen. The pact they put forward did not pass the deal the SEC set. That’s why they’ve been suspended.”

Ms Dugdale also claimed the anti-austerity requirement applied equally to the SNP as well as the Tories.

Asked if the anti-austerity ban apply to the SNP, she said: “Absolutely, categorically. You have heard me, countless times, in the chamber at First Minister’s Questions in the chamber and elsewhere blamed the Tories and the SNP for austerity.

“I did it as recently as yesterday, because the SNP have the powers to stop the cuts. I have repeatedly called on them to use them and advocated just exactly how they can use those powers. So, of course it applies to both the Tories and the SNP.”

READ MORE: Labour councillors in West Lothian pull back from Tory coalition

The fall-out from Scottish Labour’s decision to suspend nine councillors in Aberdeen continued as the Tories called on the party’s election candidates in the city to explain whether they back Ms Dugdale.

Ross Thomson and Grace O’Keeffe, who are standing for the Conservatives in the Granite city’s two constituencies at the general election, said their Labour counterparts Callum O’Dwyer and Orr Vinegold must reveal whether or not they back Dugdale or Jenny Laing, leader of the nine suspended councillors.

Mr Thomson, who was vice-convener of finance in the last local authority coalition, said Labour’s Westminster candidates must be clear with the public which side they are on.

“Labour has been plunged into civil war after Kezia Dugdale’s reckless decision to suspend all nine councillors in Aberdeen,” he said.

“The local group were doing the right thing for the city to provide stability after what has been a difficult time for the local economy.

“Now the party’s candidates for Westminster must say if they support the Scottish leader and agree with the suspensions, or if they back the city council group’s decision to defy the SEC. They cannot sit on the fence on this issue.”

Ms O’Keeffe, the Tory candidate for Aberdeen North, said: “People in Aberdeen will wonder why they should vote Labour after this debacle.

“It is clear the party is badly divided, and in complete chaos from top to bottom.

“Only the Scottish Conservatives have the strength to challenge the SNP at this election and say no to a second independence referendum.”