Withdrawals move numbers against proposed new coalition

[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Today we know that four SNP councillors have now withdrawn from the proposed coalition with the Lib Dem and Conservative groups.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.

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16 Responses to Withdrawals move numbers against proposed new coalition

  1. FA Thanks for the update

    The 6 ex SNP councillors have to decide if they wish to be part of the gang of 6 and be out of the SNP for ever— I understand 2 wish to remain with the SNP. They have until Monday I believe to decide.
    •6 EX SNP councillors [Mary Jean Devon, Anne Horn, Roddy McCuish, James Robb, John Semple and Richard Trail]

    With the above group disintegrating do the Lib Dems really wish to keep Robb in his position–He has been weakened terminally.
    •4 Lib Dem Councillors [Rory Coville, Robin Currie, Aieen Morton, Ellen Morton]

    Like the Lib dems –do they keep their Helensburgh pal in post? 2 of the Cons/ABIC are unhappy over the deal in the first place. Embaressing Mulvanney may be too tempting by opting out.
    •3 Conservative Councillors [Maurice Corry, David Kinniburgh, Gary Mulvaney]
    •2 Argyll and Bute Independent Councillors ‘George Freeman, Robert G MacIntyre]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Is James Robb going to continue to pretend that this isn’t happening? Are the SNP councillors like Mary Jean Devon,Roddy McCuish and John Semple that stayed loyal to him to protect their incomes now going to get off his boat before it sinks into the Sound of Mull!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Championees – were at you at Paradise? Brilliant!!!!!
    Newsie has gone too far in identiftying Councillor Blair (H20) as her source.
    For Argyll are a joke – Teflon Kelly inacapable of any decision, Philand is his b*tch. Only one with any intergrity is John McAlpine – why Johnny boy?
    Will the grown ups please take charge or…..
    The DICKtator will return!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Ha! Got to laugh

    just to confirm I am not a councillor never have been and never will be!

    In fact it could be defamatory if you did based on the events of the past few months.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • If it wasn’t so horribly real I’d file this story with other lurid Argyll folk tales – there seems to be a grotesque analogy with the story of the ‘Forty Fools’ Graves’ on the Oban road north of Kilmartin.
      Time will tell.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • I think folk are very confused with the set up, and beheviour of our elected members.
        Peace must break out very soon for the sake of every person in Argyll and Bute. The rest of the country is having a laugh at our expense.
        There must be no interferance from MPs or MSPs in local authority business.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Remember nic clegg the con dem party were stuffed last time. It would be nice if our elected members were in it for the people of cowal . But I , and most people know now it’s just a money thing. We don’t need so many councillors in this area it’s just a money thing for a part time job

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. I believe Richard Trail and Sandy Taylor have also refused to follow Robb into cloud cuckoo land so his position is completely sunk.
    He has also effectively expelled himself from the SNP, a process that was going to happen anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Dave, we all know that individual SNP members are being contacted and informed ‘that if you support this coalition you will be expelled from the party’.

    So Trail, Lousie Glen (“the most duplicitous person I’ve ever met”: Breslin) Sandy Taylor and the other “traitors” have “also refused to follow Robb” not from principle or conviction but from coercion.

    Doesn’t really bode well for the future now does it…. :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Low polls at elections.No wonder it is like throwing a dart at a spinning wheel blindfolded.No ingegrity is demonstrated only money hungry power crazy representatives.If the SNP think they have proved themselves to the electorate by fighting like terriers in a barrel manipulated by puppeteer in chief Russell,wee dont.Stop thinking wallet and start running Argyll.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • On the ‘it’s all about money’ issue – people do have to live, many have dependent families to support and councillors’ basic pay – around £16k per annum – is ridiculously low.
      We do not remotely support acting for personal benefit and would never do it ourselves, at any cost – but it is generally hard to resist and some face hardship in losing power.
      However, a lot of shabby stuff is going down at the moment.
      We have been told that one councillor’s recent departure from the Robb administration was bought by the councillor’s personal employer, who is unusally close to the situation, by the offer of a pay rise as compensation for lost salary. This may well be apocryphal – but it would explain the late departure, indicating that the councilor’s intention had been to remain.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • It does feel as if Louise has sold her soul to the devil ( Russell) but I wouldn’t like to be in her position having to choose between income and her principles. Principles don’t feed a family.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. For goodness sake. Talk about kids in a playground. Musical chairs. Pass the parcel. Tig. Grand Old Duke of York. And now Ring-a-ring-a-roses … “all fall down”.
    Or have they all got up again to have another game of Musical Chairs?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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