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Second Labour council group barred from Tory coalition deal

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale (Kris Miller/DC Thomson)
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale (Kris Miller/DC Thomson)

SCOTTISH LABOUR bosses have barred a second council group from doing a deal with the Tories after a “civil war” erupted between party chiefs and local councillors.

Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, suspended her party’s nine councillors in Aberdeen after they defied the wishes of the ruling Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) and went into administration with Conservatives in the city.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley said the SEC had also rejected a possible coalition with the Tories in West Lothian.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme the Labour group on the council there “have put forward proposals that have been refused by the Scottish Executive Committee, so there will be no deal with the Tories in West Lothian”.

Mr Rowley said Labour had been clear “no power-sharing arrangements would be agreed where it would mean increased austerity that will impact on communities, in particular the poorest communities up and down Scotland”.

He said the nine suspended councillors in Aberdeen “broke those rules”.

Barney Crockett, one of the suspended councillors who was appointed Lord Provost as part of the agreement, told the same programme the action was “a procedure” they would work through.

He said: “We’ll work through it and I’m confident that we will be back in Labour very soon.

“We’re still Labour councillors through and through, and I’m sure everything is going to be rectified and will be in good order.”

Ross Thomson, the Tory candidate for Aberdeen South in the General Election, said: “Labour has been plunged into civil war after Kezia Dugdale’s reckless decision to suspend all nine councillors in Aberdeen.

“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.”

The SNP had become the largest party on Aberdeen City Council following the May 4 local elections, which saw Nicola Sturgeon’s party return 19 representatives.

However, the deal between the rebel Labour councillors, the Conservatives and three independents locks the nationalists out of power.

The set-up in Aberdeen follows on from a Labour/Tory/independents coalition that governed the city between 2012 and 2017.

Mr Rowley said: “The rules of the party are quite clear, they state that Labour groups must not enter into any arrangements with other parties to determine political control and management of a local authority which do not comply with the Scottish Executive’s approved options.

“What we’ve said is where a coalition is being proposed the rules of the Labour Party are quite clear, the Labour group must bring forward the detail of that coalition and must be approved by the Scottish Executive Committee of the Labour Party.

“In this case, it wasn’t approved and the councillors have decided to go ahead anyway. They are clearly in breach of the rules and the appropriate steps will be taken.”

Labour has suspended the membership of the nine councillors pending an investigation.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon tweeted afterwards: “What a total shambles.

“Suspension doesn’t change fact that these councillors have used Labour votes to give Aberdeen a Tory council.”

Ms Dugdale said that “Labour values must always run through any deals in local government”.

She stated: “Labour cannot do any deal with another party if it would result in further austerity being imposed on local communities.”