No to the Aberdeen Labour/Tory Coalition

No to the Aberdeen Labour/Tory Coalition

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We the undersigned oppose the Tory-Labour coalition deal on Aberdeen council and support the decision of the Scottish Executive Committee [SEC] of the Scottish Labour Party to oppose this coalition and refer the matter to the Labour Party’s National Constitutional Committee.

We welcome the fact that the Scottish Labour leader has strongly supported the SEC decision on this important issue. We back the Scottish executive and the Scottish Labour leadership on this question.

The nine Councillors of the Labour Group were initially suspended in May 2017, having broken Party rules by forming a power-sharing agreement with the Conservative Party and Independents without the prior approval of the SEC, as per Appendix 6, Rules for Local Government, Labour Groups Clause X in the Scottish Labour handbook.

The Executive considered, and has rejected, a new power-sharing coalition between Labour, the Conservative and Independent groups.

In rejecting the proposal, the SEC has now formally recommended that the nine suspended members of the Labour Group are referred to the National Constitutional Committee of the Labour Party. That body will make a final determination on their membership and potential exclusion from the Party.

A vocal few have defended this deal but the majority of Labour members who oppose coalitions with the Tories must be heard.

As has been the case since the original suspension, the councillors could still stand down from the administration, as required by Party rules. Instead, they have dug in.

Any party must have democratic structures and rules that apply to all with no special favours, and it is a matter of great regret that the councillors chose to break those rules by entering into a coalition that has been rejected by the SEC.

The power-sharing coalition with the Scottish Tories has been used by Scottish Labour’s critics to damage the party across the country, not just in Aberdeen. If we are serious about winning again in Scotland we need to win back those lost to the SNP over many years. We will not do that by having coalition deals with the Conservatives. Scotland is also vital to winning the next general election. We cannot allow anyone to say that a vote for Labour means you may get the Tories; we cannot create barriers between ourselves and the voters who may come back to us on the grounds that we appear ready to enter into government at any level with the toxic Tory party. That approach would be a dead end for Labour, as it was for the LibDems.

It is said that it is not right to take action against these councillors because of the long service of many of them. But long service does not mean you cannot make an error. This is an error.

We call upon the nine councillors to withdraw from this coalition, and if they do not do so we urge the NCC to take the appropriate step which is to exclude them from the party for failing to abide by the party’s rules and procedures.