Falkirk Council’s Tory Group has been accused of seeking a power grab from the minority SNP Administration even though they are only the third largest party within Falkirk Council while the SNP are the largest. In May of 2017 the local elections resulted in 12 SNP members returned, 9 Labour, 7 Tory and 2 independent members, the latter pair splitting with Robert Spears supporting the SNP and Billy Buchanan the Tories.
Following the local elections Labour were offered a power sharing pact with the SNP but turned this down intimating they would not accept any political positions within the council. This left the SNP to form a minority Administration as the Nationalists said they would work with all parties but would not enter into a formal coalition with the Conservatives.
This strategy appeared to be paying dividends when the SNP only a few short weeks ago had their budget successfully adopted by Falkirk Council by 21 votes to 8. This was widely felt to be a significant achievement for not only the Administration as a whole but for the architect of the budget, Council Leader Cecil Meiklejohn particular. The budget not only protected key services and community facilities but also delivered much needed new investment in roads, schools and measures to empower communities.
As one insider commented “Mrs Meiklejohn is being targeted by the Tories in a particularly vindictive manner. Their actions are motivated by fear that the SNP Group Leader will continue to build on this achievement and the energy, drive and the fresh thinking she and her SNP administration has brought to Falkirk Council”
As it stands the Tories can not pull this off on their own, they will require the support of the Labour Councillors some of whom will be uncomfortable at being seen to favour a right wing Conservative over a clearly left of centre SNP. The Nationalists believe, that at a time when the Labour Party are seeking to rediscover their traditional roots under the joint leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Leonard, Labour grass roots activists will recoil in horror at a pact at local level with the traditional enemy, the Conservative Party. This is particularly topical as the full effects of the Tory Westminster agenda such as the move to a Single Benefit regime and the anticipated job losses through BREXIT come into being.
Quote from the Leader of Falkirk Council, Cllr Cecil Meiklejohn.
“The Tories appear to have become possessed with holding power even if they remain Falkirk’s third biggest party, a position they had before the election in May of last year.”
“Failure to win the recent Bonnybridge & Larbert by-election was a major blow to Falkirk’s Tories who now seem to simply ignore the electorate in that ward and beyond.”
“Until they find 8 like minded individuals to vote with them it is business as usual for the SNP Administration.”
“For Labour they must choose between a progressive SNP representing mainstream views or catapulting the Tory Party into the centre of governance within Falkirk district and I wonder how that will be taken by a population that has never voted Tory and never will.”
Quote from Cllr Paul Garner SNP Group Depute Leader,
“The Tory motion is an affront to democracy in that they fail to recognise that by seeking to exclude the leader of the party returned as the most popular party by the electorate they are insulting the people of Falkirk and district.”
“It was the Tories in partnership with the Labour Party who introduced the current decision making structure to their advantage at the time. Now they seek to change it when they find themselves out of power which is in itself a sinister development.”