SNP, Labor and Conservatives rule out formal coalition after East Ayrshire Council elections

East Ayrshire’s three main political parties have ruled out any formal coalitions after May’s local elections.

The door had appeared to be open to coalitions when Scottish Labor refused to put a ban in place, despite Leader Anas Sarwar’s personal opposition.

There had been suggestions that Labor and the Conservatives could work together in East Ayrshire, after they voted together to remove the SNP’s former provost Jim Todd and depute provost Claire Leitch, and install Labor councilor Barry Douglas and Rubbish Party member Sally Cogley in their stead last summer.

But the Labor party in East Ayrshire has seemingly adopted Mr Sarwar’s stand against formal coalitions, bringing all three main parties into line with one another.

Group leader councilor John McGhee said: “We should not be looking at coalitions with any political party, but rather looking to get as many Labor councilors elected as we can.

“Then we can get a council that’s focussed on delivering for local people not national political rows or old divisions.”

But he opened the door to working with other parties on individual issues.

He said: “Having a working arrangement with other parties or independent councilors is certainly something we would consider in order to ensure the right outcome on individual issues.

“We have to be serious about politics and keep an open mind as to working arrangements on individual issues.

“When people go to the polls on May 5th, if they want a council focussed on jobs, dealing with the cost-of-living crisis and protecting local services they have to vote for it.”

Current SNP council leader Douglas Reid said that his party already have a ‘track record of inclusiveness’ when it comes to working across party lines.

SNP Council Leader Douglas Reid

However, he ruled out any agreement with the Conservative Party – a position mirrored by the Conservatives themselves.

While Cllr Reid echoed Cllr McGhee on working together on issues, he pointed out that the SNP was only party with enough candidates to win outright control of the council.

Parties will need to secure 17 out of 32 seats for a majority.

The SNP will be standing that exact number of candidates for election on May 5. Labor will have 11 candidates, with Conservatives standing nine.

Alba will have three candidates, while the Scottish Greens, Liberal Democrats, Rubbish Party and Libertarian Parties will each contest one ward apiece.

Seven Independents will also be standing, three of them in just one ward, the Doon Valley.

Cllr Reid said: “We are the only group who are putting up enough candidates to win, and therefore presenting a program that can actually be delivered.

“We have kept our campaign positive with recovery, renewal and supporting communities at the centre.”

The Conservatives have also unequivocally rejected the idea of ​​a coalition, only saying that they would ‘possibly’ work on an informal basis with other parties, but not the SNP.

The issue of coalitions came to a head shortly after the last election in 2017, when Labor suspended councilors in Aberdeen who formed a coalition with Conservatives. However, the ruling has not been put in place by Labor ahead of the 2022 election.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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