Tories suggest coalition with Labour in Edinburgh power bid

Conservatives on the city council in Edinburgh have approached Labour over a proposed coalition in an effort to break the deadlock at City Chambers.

Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture: Ian Georgeson

An email is understood to have been sent to Labour councillors listing a number of “initial policy statements” which the Tories hope could lead to a three-way coalition with Labour and possibly the Liberal Democrats.

In a draft leaked to The Scotsman’s sister title the Edinburgh Evening News, the party names a raft of 
policies it would be willing to discuss with Labour, including a pledge to keep Lothian Buses and the city’s trams under public ownership.

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It states: “These initial policy statements would form the basis of discussion and negotiation between parties to draw up a potential coalition agreement.

“Any agreement would necessarily have to bring together three parties to govern from the centre to provide a stable administration which could deliver improved services for the people of Edinburgh.”

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A Conservative source said the email was aimed at ensuring all Labour councillors knew what proposals were on the table, saying they were “optimistic” a way forward could be found if Labour were prepared to consider a deal. They added that the Tories felt all parties agreed enough on day-to-day issues to make such a coalition feasible.

It comes as a coalition deal reached between the SNP, with 19 seats, and Labour, who have 12, awaits approval by Labour’s Scottish Executive Committee. The Labour and Nationalist groups finally reached agreement after five days of negotiations.

SNP group leader Adam McVey poured cold water on the Tories’ suggestion, calling it a “desperate bid for power”.

He said it would be a deal “that avoids dealing with the big issues because there is no agreement between the 
parties on how to move forward is not a deal in the best interests of Edinburgh”.

Mr McVey added: “Labour are not daft.

“They know this is an attempt to get the Tory agenda of privatising local services through by the back door, using an independence bogeyman as the only rationale for a flimsy coalition that will take our city in the wrong direction.”

The Tories, who have 18 seats, have already made the case for a “pan-Unionist” 
coalition with Labour and the Lib Dems but it is understood Labour has privately ruled this out.

Key issues for the Lib Dems in any negotiations are thought to involve investment in 
education and the expansion of mental health services.

A source said: “If there is a serious proposal on the table we are happy to have a 
conversation about it but at the moment we haven’t been presented with anything 
serious.”