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Labour councillors ignore orders and form Tory coalition

The group in Aberdeen was ordered not to do the deal by the party's ruling body.

Aberdeen: No party won a majority of seats in the recent council election.
Aberdeen: No party won a majority of seats in the recent council election. STV

Labour councillors in Aberdeen are to form a coalition with the Conservatives despite being ordered not to do so by the party's ruling body.

Labour's Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) rejected the proposed deal on Tuesday as it could not guarantee that local services could be protected.

At a meeting on Wednesday, the Aberdeen Labour council group chose to ignore the ruling and entered into an administration with the Conservatives.

The deal means the two parties will run the city alongside three independent councillors.

The nine Labour councillors have been threatened with suspension from the party if they do not pull out of the deal.

A Labour spokesman said: "A panel of the SEC of the Scottish Labour Party, made up of trade union representatives, local party representatives, affiliated groups and the leadership, took the decision on Tuesday evening to reject a proposed power-sharing deal in Aberdeen.

"Labour's approach has been clear and consistent: We absolutely cannot do any deal with another party if it would result in further austerity being imposed on local communities.

"The Conservatives are a pro-austerity party and the SEC panel did not accept that working families in Aberdeen would be protected from further cuts as the result of the proposed deal with the Tories."

At the local elections earlier this month, the SNP won the most council seats in the city but failed to gain a majority.

The Conservatives finished in second with Labour in third.

Callum McCaig, SNP candidate for Aberdeen South and former council leader, called the Labour council group's behaviour "absolutely shameful".

He added: "They can no longer call themselves a party that supports public services, given this anti-democratic pact with a right-wing Tory party obsessed with austerity and cuts.

"People across Aberdeen and the rest of Scotland now know where Labour's priorities lie - they put jumping into bed with the Tories ahead of any principle."

Conservative group leader in the council chambers, Douglas Lumsden, hailed the agreement as the creation of a "unionist coalition" for the city.

He said: "Aberdeen needs councillors to work together across party lines for the benefit of all who live here. "The city has gone through a difficult period due to the downturn in oil and gas and we need stability and strong leadership.

"Crucially, we now have a unionist coalition that will put the interests of Aberdeen first, not obsess over a second independence referendum.

"However, the reckless threat of disciplinary action against Aberdeen Labour from Kezia Dugdale today could put that stability at risk."

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