West Lothian Council: SNP Motion of no confidence fails
A bid by the SNP to overturn the minority Labour leadership of West Lothian Council has been defeated.
Depute group leader Councillor Frank Anderson tabled a motion criticising the make up of the council and branded the in-built Labour majority on the Executive as a “democratic deficit.”
The Labour group has 10 councillors in total, with seven sitting on the Executive. The Conservatives have eight, with four on the Executive.
Despite having 14 councillors however, the SNP has only two seats on the Executive.
In his motion to the meeting Cllr Anderson said recent by-election success for his party had reinforced that deficit. He added: “The court of public opinion have decisively rejected the Labour Party and continues to endorse the SNP as the party to be trusted.”
It added: “The SNP Group therefore have no confidence, and neither do the electorate, in the sham claim that this council is run by a minority Labour administration. We call on the Labour Group to resign from the administration and a new SNP administration is appointed.”
Cllr Anderson said Labour had deserted political leadership, citing the recent decision to defer decisions on Covid spending to council officers. He criticised the Labour group for refusing to consider offering committee chairs to SNP councillors.
SNP Councillor Andrew Miller said: “It’s quite obvious that this Labour group is the least representative administration in the history of West Lothian. Labour has been reduced to a rump.”
Councillor Stuart Borrowman, the only Independent on the council, asked Cllr Anderson if he could address what difference an SNP administration would make in the 23 weeks until the council elections in May?
Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick’s amendment said: “Council agrees that the focus for any administration lies in delivering quality local services which benefit the community as opposed to continually pressing for a referendum on Scottish Independence. Council also notes that in the 2017 council election 60.6 per cent of the vote was achieved by parties and an Independent member opposed to Independence.”
Cllr Anderson denounced these remarks as “dog whistle politics”, stating the SNP bore no similarity to far right nationalism that has developed elsewhere. He appealed to the Conservative group councillors to abstain in the vote. They did not, and the loose confidence and supply agreement that has supported Labour since 2017 carried the amendment by 19 votes to 13.
After the vote Cllr Fitzpatrick said: “In 2017 the people of West Lothian voted decisively against the SNPs brand of divisive one track politics. Councillor colleagues from other parties in West Lothian felt that Labour was best placed to run the Council as it had done in the five years previously.
“It’s no exaggeration to say the years since have been some of the toughest for local government. As well as the pandemic we have had to contend with an ever decreasing funding settlement from the government in Edinburgh as well as their ever increasing centralisation of public services. In the months that remain before the election in May 2022 I and my Labour colleagues will continue to work tirelessly for our county.”