The co-leader of Aberdeen City Council has said she doesn’t believe the public in the city are concerned about a spat in the Labour Party.
Councillor Jenny Laing was commenting on the leaked documents, obtained by the Evening Express, which detail discussions between the General Secretary of the Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) of the Labour Party Brian Roy and each of the suspended councillors.
All nine Aberdeen Labour members were suspended by the national party in May after they struck a deal with the Conservatives and Independent group at the Town House.
It is claimed in the interviews Cllr Laing “believes that the SEC don’t fully understand the realities of Aberdeen politics”.
She is said to have been “concerned that Aberdeen Labour will look weak and like it is backtracking under Central Belt pressure if it withdrew from the agreement”.
The report also says Cllr Laing put forward the view that “failure to join the coalition would’ve made the party irrelevant in Aberdeen – as not even the largest opposition party and unable to enact their policy agenda”.
During questioning by Mr Roy, Cllr Laing is noted as claiming that “given the inexperience of the Conservative Group there is an opportunity for Labour to take the lead and the credit”, and that “they will, for instance, be able to use the co-leader and Provost positions to be the ‘face’ of good news stories”.
The Evening Express approached Cllr Laing asking her to respond to the claims, but in a released statement she said people just want to see the coalition get on with its day job.
She added: “While I respect the decision of the Scottish Executive Committee (to suspend) I do not think the public in Aberdeen are particularly interested in an administrative dispute between Scottish Labour and Aberdeen Labour.
“I believe the public of Aberdeen are more concerned about this council continuing to provide the vital public services they rely on day in and day out.
“As leader of Aberdeen Labour and co-leader of the council, my focus will always be on how I make best use of public resources to safeguard jobs and ensure that the citizens of Aberdeen are protected from SNP austerity.
“Since May we have seen numerous successes such as the Cycle Tour Series, the Great Aberdeen Run and the Denis Law Freedom of the City celebrations where more than 15,000 people came out on a cold Sunday evening to see the Christmas lights being switched on.”
Despite, in the leaked documents, appearing to talk down the influence of the Tory group and apparently claiming the group’s councillors are “inexperienced”, Cllr Laing told the Evening Express: “We continue to have a good working relationship with all our coalition partners and our collective focus remains on ensuring the residents of Aberdeen receive the best possible public services within the confines of Aberdeen being the lowest funded council in Scotland.”
Other councillors were also quoted in the leaked documents.
The Scottish Labour Party said it doesn’t comment on leaked documents and that the nine councillors will remain suspended until after the city council budget in February.