Dugdale’s leadership under pressure from rebel coalition deal as local party defies suspension
ABERDEEN CITY COUNCIL was left in the control of a Tory-independent coalition last night (Wednesday 17 May) after Kezia Dugdale, the leader of Scottish Labour, suspended an entire council group in the city after it defied her and entered a coalition with the Scottish Tories.
The deal made between the 11 Tories, 9 Labour councillors and one former Liberal Democrat as an independent undermined and ignored her order barring any Labour councillor from forming coalitions with parties carrying out austerity policies.
With her authority under question and the party tense, with questions over future councillors breaking ranks to form ‘all-unionist’ coalitions, her leadership has come under scrutiny and pressure.
The suspension of the councillors, many of whom had been in the Labour party for decades, comes only two weeks after councillors were elected to office on 5 May.
“She really is lost. No wonder Scottish Labour is continuing its death spiral.” Ruth Davidson
The SNP, which ended the local elections with the most councillors on 19, were left as the opposition and locked out of power.
Under Labour Party rules, any council group wanting to go into a coalition with another party has to get the approval of Labour’s Scottish executive committee.
Emphasising the principle of her anti-austerity position and her leadership Dugdale said: “The hundreds of thousands of Scots who vote for us have the absolute right to expect us to defend local services against cuts and properly fund the services that so many people rely on, such as education and care for the elderly.
“Labour cannot do any deal with another party if it would result in further austerity being imposed on local communities. Tory austerity risks hurting so many families in Aberdeen, and the Labour Party simply will not stand for that.”
“The hundreds of thousands of Scots who vote for us have the absolute right to expect us to defend local services against cuts and properly fund the services that so many people rely on, such as education and care for the elderly.” Kezia Dugdale
Barney Crockett, one of the suspended Labour councillors who was elected Aberdeen’s lord provost yesterday (Wednesday 17 May), said: “The leader of the Labour Party in Scotland said she wanted people to elect local champions, and we certainly see ourselves in that mould.
“Our voters are looking for politicians to work constructively together, and I think it’s a remarkable achievement to get a Conservative/Labour/independent majority to operate the council.”
Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland made the most of the battle between the local and national party raging inside Labour, suggesting that the debacle showed the party would be an ineffectual opposition to the Tories at Westminster.
“If Labour’s heading for the kind of defeat that some of the polls suggest, they’re going to descend into a period of civil war and bloodletting so they’re not going to be capable of being an opposition to the Tories.” Nicola Sturgeon
She said: “If Labour’s heading for the kind of defeat that some of the polls suggest, they’re going to descend into a period of civil war and bloodletting so they’re not going to be capable of being an opposition to the Tories.”
Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, used the event to say that it proved the Scottish Tories were the only effective party to defend the UK union and “stand up to the SNP.”
She said: “She [Kezia Dugdale] says she’ll ‘discipline’ members who even think about working with pro-UK colleagues like the Conservatives, despite Labour and Conservatives having formed the Aberdeen city administration for almost all of her time as leader. She really is lost. No wonder Scottish Labour is continuing its death spiral.”
Picture courtesy of YouTube
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