Dugdale attempts to keep peace
Labour crisis as Aberdeen councillors suspended
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale was struggling to maintain cohesion in her party last night after it suspended a group of councillors in Aberdeen for planning a coalition with the Conservatives on the city council.
Nine Labour councillors forged a power-sharing deal with 11 Tories and three independents despite being told not to do so by party leaders.
Aberdeen’s Labour group leader Jenny Laing unveiled the agreement with Douglas Lumsden, leader of the Conservatives and failed to meet a 5pm deadline imposed by a Labour panel which declared that the councillors had breached party rules.
The dispute overshadowed a keynote speech by Ms Dugdale who spoke passionately about the party’s record in local government.
A spokesman was forced to address the row in Aberdeen.
He said: “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 Labour will simply will not stand for that.
“A panel of the Scottish Executive Committee of the Labour Party, made up of trade union representatives, local party representatives, affiliated groups and the leadership, took the decision on Tuesday evening to reject a proposed power-sharing deal in Aberdeen with the Conservatives and independent councillors.
“All Labour councillors in Aberdeen were today requested to stand down from the multi-party arrangement, with a deadline of 5pm.
“That deadline has now passed and the party has contacted each councillor to inform them they have been suspended with immediate effect, pending investigation.
“As a result, there are currently no councillors in office in Aberdeen representing Labour.”
SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described Labour as a “total shambles”.
Aberdeen’s Tory leader Mr Lumsden defended the deal and argued that the coalition of unionist parties would benefit of the city.
“Aberdeen needs councillors to work together across party lines for the benefit of all who live here,” he said.
“The city has gone through a difficult period due to the downturn in oil and gas and we need stability and strong leadership.
“Crucially, we now have a Unionist coalition that will put the interests of Aberdeen first, not obsess over a second independence referendum. However, the reckless threat of disciplinary action against Aberdeen Labour from Kezia Dugdale today could put that stability at risk.”
Ms Sturgeon will see the turmoil as a welcome distraction from a growing controversy in her own party. She has been urged to state publicly what she knew of a Law Society investigation into the SNP politician Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.