A decision by the Labour party to go into coalition with the Tories has been branded a “stitch up”.
Labour councillors in Aberdeen defied their national bosses to enter into a partnership with 11 Tory colleagues and three independent councillors.
And now all nine members of the party have been suspended following an announcement by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale yesterday.
Despite finishing third in the council election behind the SNP and Conservatives, the Labour councillors have landed the key roles of council leader and Lord Provost, as well as a pledge from their Tory colleagues that the Labour manifesto commitments would be “fulfilled in full”.
SNP group leader Stephen Flynn said the forming of the coalition amounted to a “stitch up” by the Labour party who he said are “obsessed with power and positions”.
He also referred to the new administration as the “three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell”.
Cllr Flynn added: “This is a dark day for democracy.
“What we’ve had is a stitch up by the Labour party, they have no interest in standing up for their values.
“The SNP had a very positive vision for the city. The people of Aberdeen bought into that vision and elected 19 of us.
“We’ll continue to play a strong and robust role within this council to hold it to account.
“I do not believe the Labour Party have acted in the best interests of Aberdeen.
“I believe they’ve acted in the best interests for themselves.
“They’re obsessed with power and positions and perhaps the same accusation could be labelled at the new independent that has joined their ranks.
“I think people are disgusted with what has happened here today.
“We’ve seen a lot over the last five years, we obviously had a very bizarre administration that pushed things against the will of the people and now we have democracy getting pushed aside and that’s simply unacceptable and I feel a great deal of sympathy for the people of Aberdeen.
“Once again their views have been ignored.”
And in dramatic scenes in the chamber, veteran councillor Jennifer Stewart chose to leave the Liberal Democrat group, paving the way for a Labour, Tory and independent coalition.
Cllr Stewart, who represents Hazlehead/Ashley/Queen’s Cross, announced to the meeting of all councillors that she wanted to step away from the party and join the coalition as an independent councillor.
During the meeting Labour stalwart Councillor Barney Crockett was appointed Lord Provost 23 votes to 21, with one abstention.
The Conservatives’ Tom Mason was also appointed deputy Lord Provost.
The coalition proposed Conservative group leader Douglas Lumsden and Labour group leader Jenny Laing as co-leaders but the move was halted after it was confirmed legal advice from officers would have to be sought as to whether the role was possible.
This is expected to come forward in the next couple of weeks with Cllr Laing appointed to the post of leader yesterday.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Laing said she believes in administration they can deliver Labour policies which will “make a difference to people’s lives”.
She added: “I think we are local champions that’s why we’ve made that decision and it’s a hard decision because I have been a member of the Labour Party for 35 years.
“I believe socialism is the way to make people equal, it’s the way to make sure they can experience the opportunities that they should do no matter what their background.
“I believe in the Labour Party, every member of my group believes in that and that’s the reason we stood in the election.”
Speaking in the chamber Cllr Flynn said the council was in a “bizarre situation” in which a Labour manifesto will be brought forward by the Conservatives.
Cllr Lumsden, Scottish Conservatives group leader, said the events of the day were a “little bit unexpected”.
He added: “It’s a coalition of three groups, it’s very much a partnership, obviously Labour will have some socialist policies that they might want to carry forward and we might have other things so the first thing that we’re going to do as a coalition is sit down and put a policy document together which we can implement over the next five years.
“We guaranteed the no compulsory redundances and we’ve also guaranteed no austerity.”
The Tory group was the only mainstream party not to release a local manifesto but group leader Cllr Lumsden said over the next couple of weeks the group would “work hard” to put a policy document together.
He added: “Each candidate had a list of priorities for their ward so we’re going to be incorporating some of those, we’re also going to be talking to our partners on what needs to be in there and we’re hoping to have that in quite soon.
“I think the SNP share of votes was only about 32% in the city and if you combine the rest of us, it’s much more and I think it is much healthier for the city that we’ve got other groups working together.
“It’s going to be fairer and I think it’s the best way forward.”
Councillor Marie Boulton, leader of the Independent Alliance, said the same political groups had “worked well” in the last administration.
She added: “I think we’ve almost got to ignore the party and look at what’s important and for us as a coalition it’s the people.
“And that’s why we’ve put parties aside to make sure that this happens for Aberdeen city.”