For the absence of doubt, West Lothian council now has a Labour/Tory coalition. It’s a dirty deal and the West Lothian voters have been well and truly disregarded to put it politely. Why do I mention doubt? Well, the media, Labour and the Tories are all denying a provable truth. I was there; I saw it pan out with my own eyes and heard the votes cast from Labour and Tory mouths in support of each other. West Lothian Labour claim there is no coalition between them and Tories. How then do they explain West Lothian Labour councillors voting in 12 Tory councillors into the below 12 positions?
Tory positions in West Lothian:
1) Provost of the council (and chair of full council meetings) (£25,392)
2) Chair of full council planning meetings
3) Chair of the Audit Committee (£25,392)
4) Vice Chair of the Audit Committee
5) Chair of the Development Management Committee (£25,392)
6) Vice Chair of the Development Management Committee
7) Vice Chair of the Linlithgow Local Area Committee
8) Vice Chair of the Broxburn Local Area Committee
9) Vice Chair of the Livingston North Local Area Committee
10) Vice Chair of the Livingston South Local Area Committee
11) Vice Chair of the Livingston East and East Calder Local Area Committee
12) Vice Chair of the Bathgate Local Area Committee
Now that we have post indyref EVEL we have a new West Lothian question:
What part of coalition do you not understand?
It feels like I’m living in a parallel universe watching the way the Tory/Labour coalition s being reported. Kind of like watching a live version of ‘Memento’ with Labour councillor and coalition denier Cathy Muldoon playing the part of Guy Pearce who suffers from ‘Anterograde Amnesia’, the inability to recall the recent past.
It’s time for a reality check. Here’s the timeline of shame.
- 4th May: The SNP won 13 seats in West Lothian at the council elections while Labour won 12, the Tories 7 and 1 Independent. REALITY CHECK – The SNP won more councillors than any other party.
- 11th May: Talk of a council meeting with SNP inviting coalition talks with Labour. REALITY CHECK- Labour NEVER accepted any such meeting or got in talks with the SNP at any stage. The meeting was adjourned to allow for talks and Labour only talked to the Tories.
- 17th May: Labour suspends 9 councillors in Aberdeen for Tory coalition
- 17th May: Labour and Tories reportedly in coalition talks. REALITY CHECK – They were indeed in dirty backroom coalition talks.
- 17th May: Labour councillors put forward a formal request to the party’s Executive Committee for a coalition with the Tories. REALITY CHECK – Proof of the dirty deed.
- 18th May: Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour Alex Rowley warns West Lothian Councillors against coalition with Tories. REALITY CHECK – This instruction from head office was ignored by the Labour Councillors.
- 18th May: A formal coalition deal with the Conservatives in West Lothian was reportedly withdrawn. REALITY CHECK – The proposed coalition may have been withdrawn in terms of asking permission but it went ahead regardless.
- 25th May: Labour and Tory councillors officially go into coalition. REALITY CHECK – Labour and Tories voted each other into council positions in the same way as all council coalitions do.
- 26th May: Reports that ONLY Labour have taken control of West Lothian council. REALITY CHECK. Labour and Tories have formed a pre-arranged coalition voting each other in to all positions. A Labour minority administration is impossible without Tory help as they are not the largest party.
SNP councillor Andrew Miller said of one of his contributions to the council farce
“For 5 long years, Cllr McGinty (Labour) has tried to convince himself that he wasn’t in power at the whim of the Tory Provost. Now there is no more pretence, every single Labour appointment tonight has been made with the full support of the conservative group. Every single Labour vote, every single Labour appointment and every single Labour budget from now on will only pass if they (the Tories) allow it. I don’t know if it’s hatred, stupidity or simply greed but on your (Labour) conscience be it!”
Every Labour appointment was only possible with the full backing of Conservative votes and likewise Labour also Voted 12 Conservative Cllrs into chair or vice chair positions. In their dirty pact Labour rewarded the conservatives with over £75,000 per year of special responsibility payments. SNP representation on Policy development panels was reduced to one single member showing clearly they really don’t want any opposition to their Labour/Tory pact. Here is the list of paid positions as they were voted in by the Labour and Tory coalition:
An interesting point to note was the only vote the SNP did not oppose was the election of Labour’s Dom McGuire as chair of Livingston North LAC. Dom was the only Labourite with any conviction in refusing to work with the Tories. He refused to even vote the Labour councillors into the coalition. Dom deserves much respect indeed for this principled stance.
What’s the point of voting for a party who will sell your vote to another party? If Kezia Dugdale wants to show strong leadership then she should have the courage of her convictions and suspend the Labour councillors for disobeying instruction from the branch office. The way traditional English Labour supporters will be feeling at Labour forming their first ever coalition with UKIP in Basildon is much how SNP voters, many of whom were previously labour voters feel about Labour/Tory coalitions in Scotland.
Call it what you like, back door politics, self-preservation, max unionism but one thing you cannot call it with a straight face is a minority Labour administration. Labour and the Tories, these two parties with apparently diametrically opposed stated beliefs have effectively formed the United Unionist Party of West Lothian. One can only hope the voters of West Lothian will make their feelings clear on June 8th.