Scotland politics

Aberdeen Provost says Labour coalition row will be resolved

Barney Crockett
Image caption Barney Crockett was named as the council's new Lord Provost on Wednesday

The new provost of Aberdeen City Council has said he is confident of being reinstated to Scottish Labour "very soon".

Barney Crockett was one of nine Labour councillors suspended by the party after agreeing a coalition to run the council alongside the Conservatives.

Mr Crockett insisted the councillors were still "Labour through and through" despite the suspension.

And he said he was "sure everything is going to be rectified".

The Labour group signed a deal with the Conservative and independent groups on Wednesday, allowing them to out-vote the SNP - who finished as the largest party on the council in the recent election.

'Further austerity'

Scottish Labour's executive committee ordered its councillors to stand down from the coalition before 17:00.

The councillors were suspended after the deadline passed - meaning there are currently no councillors in Aberdeen representing Labour.

A possible deal between Labour and the Conservatives to run West Lothian Council has also been thrown out by Labour's Scottish Executive Committee.

And Labour councillors also hope to form a minority administration in North Lanarkshire with the support of the Conservatives - although there will not be a formal coalition agreement between the two parties.

Meanwhile, an agreement has been struck between the SNP and Labour groups on Fife Council.

The two parties said they would equally share the leadership of the council in a "spirit of collaboration and co-operation".

On Wednesday, Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale said Labour "cannot do any deal with another party if it would result in further austerity being imposed on local communities".

She added: "Tory austerity risks hurting so many families in Aberdeen, and the Labour Party simply will not stand for that."

Image caption A total of 19 SNP councillors were elected in Aberdeen, making them the largest party but short of a majority

Mr Crocket told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that he was confident of showing that the coalition deal would "certainly not" lead to more austerity, and that he was sure that would be accepted by the national party.

He added: "I think that we'll work through it and I'm confident we will be back in Labour very soon.

"We are still Labour councillors through and through and I am sure everything is going to be rectified and we will be in good order very soon."

The council had been run by a Labour-Conservative coalition since 2012, which Mr Crockett said had "done very well for the city".

The provost also said that he was a "great supporter" of Kezia Dugdale, who he said was "very much the right leader for Labour in Scotland", and insisted: "I don't think we have fallen out."

Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley told Good Morning Scotland: "I was not involved back in 2012.

"We have had a new election. The rules of the Labour Party are quite clear. These councillors are in breach of the rules."

'Error of judgement'

Labour's Jenny Laing was chosen as council leader on Wednesday, with Mr Crockett elected Lord Provost and Conservative councillor Tom Mason as deputy provost.

The Conservatives have criticised Labour for suspending the councillors, with leader Ruth Davidson saying Ms Dugdale had made a "terrible error of judgement".

Ms Davidson said: "Kezia Dugdale is putting her own petty politics ahead of what's good for Aberdeen, and would rather see an independence-obsessed SNP at the reigns than her own councillors."

Discussions among all of the political groups on the local authority had been ongoing since the election results were declared on 5 May.

The election saw the SNP become the biggest party after returning 19 councillors, with the Conservatives on 11 and Labour on nine.

Four Liberal Democrats were also returned, and two independents.

Lib Dem councillor Jennifer Stewart has now left the party group to become an independent.

Meanwhile, a coalition of Conservative, Liberal Democrats and independent councillors will run Aberdeenshire Council.

In Shetland, independent Cecil Smith - who has served on the council since 2007 - is the council's new leader.

Shetland Islands Councils remained in the control of independents.

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