[Updated below 17.30] The proposed new coalition administration for Argyll and Bute claimed a majority of 25-11 in its launch announcement.
We showed last night [10th May] that this was incorrect – and that the three Argyll First had been wrongly assumed to be a part of it – without enquiry as to their intentions.
We had a questions then about the position of Independent Iain Angus Macdonald, the likely withdrawal of the SNP’s Gordon Blair, doubts about the enduring commitment of some of his SNP colleagues and an unknown quantity in Elaine Robertson, who is on holiday.
Today we know that four SNP councillors have now withdrawn from the proposed coalition with the Lib Dem and Conservative groups.
They are, in alphabetical order:
- Councillor Gordon Blair – Cowal
- Councillor Louise Glen-Lee – Oban North and Lorn
- Councillor Robert E McIntyre – Bute
- Councillor Sandy Taylor – Mid Argyll
A known question mark remains over the positions of three councillors:
- Councillor Iain Angus Macdonald, Independent, Oban North and Lorn;
- Councilor Elaine Robertson, Independent, Oban North and Lorn [has been on holiday]
- Councillor Isobel Strong, SNP, Bute [is undergoing major surgery]
The certain position of the opposition councillors now stand as follows:
- 9: Alliance of Independent Councillors [assuming that Councillor Vivien Dance who is openly up for offers - chooses to remain with her former colleagues.
- 3: Argyll First
- 2: SNP resignees Councillors Breslin and Hall
- 4: Today's 4 SNP withdrawals as above
That makes 18 which, even if ALL others went with the proposed coalition, would leave a hung council.
If just one of the three identified above whose position is currently unknown, did not wish to be part of the proposed new coalition, it would give a narrow majority of 19-17 to the opposition.
The coalition as thing stand now, has 15:
- 6 SNP councillors [Mary Jean Devon, Anne Horn, Roddy McCuish, James Robb, John Semple and Richard Trail]
- 4 Lib Dem Councillors [Rory Coville, Robin Currie, Aieen Morton, Ellen Morton]
- 3 Conservative Councillors [Maurice Corry, David Kinniburgh, Gary Mulvaney]
- 2 Argyll and Bute Independent Councillors [George Freeman, Robert G MacIntyre]
This makes 15, not all of whose continuing involvement can be assured.
With these figures, it is hard to see how the proposed administration and the final proposed allocation of posts – whatever it is – can get through a vote of the full council.
Moreover, it is unlikely that Councillor Isobel Strong will be back at work by the crux meeting of the council on 23rd May. Therefore, whatever her intentions might have been, her simple absence will remove one potential vote form the proposed administration’s best possible tally of break even.
We’re now calling it game over, with yet another proposed new administration on the near horizon.
Only in Argyll.
So what next?
The 9-strong Alliance of Independent Councillors under former Council Leader Dick Walsh, will try to form a coalition administration of their own.
It is not impossible that they might be joined by one or both of the SNP resignees, who remain outside that party.
We wonder if Argyll First, as a demonstrably principled and disciplined group, might pull together a wider group to negotiate communal support in exchange for a commitment to deploy the new approaches to the delivery of local government which they have been working up?
This might even be best done in collaboration with the Alliance group, so that all ‘owned’ whatever agreed outcome emerged.
We discussed these in an article last night – and they focus on an inclusive approach based on the selection of the best candidates for each post of responsibility, regardless of where they sit in the chamber.
If this can be worked up to viability and were to be a deal breaker in negotiations, such an approach would find favour with much of the Argyll and Bute electorate.
Voters are sickened with the cynical fascism of the last regime of the Alliance of Independents and with the undisciplined, fratricidal and gutless SNP group.
No one has reason to trust the transparency, objectivity and fairness of the Alliance group.
No one has reason to trust the competence, political courage and stability of the SNP group.
This may be the time for all good men and women, regardless of personal political affiliation, to work with Argyll First, develop together a wholly new approach to local government and make that the deal-breaker for involvement in another administration.
Any such emerging proposal would have to show that it was:
- focused on the interests of Argyll as a coherent whole;
- was beyond the influence of party politics, which has shown to be a destructive force in local government;
- was focused on bringing the best of all talents to bear on each aspect of policy making and governance;
- and would operate on a collegial basis, with engaged team work at its heart.
The Alliance of Independents, in its nature, is already outside party politics and should have no problem with that concept.
But is it capable of stepping free of bad old habits and growing in stature into new and better ones?
That’s the question.
Updated 17.30: Iain Angus Macdonald has confirmed that he is not a part of the proposed new coalition. This now gives a majority to the opposition to the proposed coalition.