As I stated in my earlier post, at the council meeting held on 3 July, Labour Group Leader Derek Milligan referred to the SNP/Independent/Green coalition. I am grateful to Provost Joe Wallace, who immediately intervened to correct this.
Sitting next to Derek was Labour colleague Councillor Adam Montgomery. Why then did Adam, in a letter published in this week's Midlothian Advertiser, three times refer to the 'SNP/Independent/Green' coalition, if not to convey to the general public a position he knew well to be untrue?
In the same issue, another letter from the prolific letter writer 'Name and address withheld', also referred to 'my coalition'.
At the same council meeting, there was discussion relating to the make-up of a committee, during which Derek claimed I should not be a member as I am effectively part of the administration on the basis that I have voted consistently with the SNP. This is disingenuous. Leaving aside the votes where I was committed as part of my agreement to vote with the SNP (i.e. elections of Provost and Council Leader), there have only been two or three votes taken - as most decisions so far have not been taken to a vote. On the remaining votes, I have not been persuaded by Labour's arguments.
Provost Wallace succinctly pointed out that the previous Labour administration had never expressed a similar view of the Liberal Democrats, who had consistently voted with Labour over the previous five years. Quite.
One of those issues, which Labour has rightly highlighted, is the move from a 4-weekly to 6-weekly cycle of council meetings. I voted for the change as a compromise. I supported Labour's opposition to reducing the size of two committees, and negotiated the removal of that change in return for supporting the change to the meeting cycle - as I was assured by the SNP that council officials were very much in favour on the basis of greater efficiency.
I now feel this may have been a mistake. However, had the Labour Group approached me before the decision and appraised me of their concerns, I may very well have supported them rather than being forced to make a decision in the middle of a meeting and without the full facts at my disposal.
If, as Derek Milligan claims, “The smart money is this group won’t last till Christmas", then what is the Labour Group's Plan B? If they have any hope of regaining power, surely I should be somewhere in that plan, rather than driving me into the arms of the opposition.
I have read a lot over the past week about the late Bob McLean. I didn't know Bob very well; we exchanged pleasantries and the occasional chat when I saw him, usually in the Co-op in Bonnyrigg. Having read more about him, I wish I had got to know him more. Clearly he was a shining light in the Midlothian Labour Party, and it's a pity he didn't become more active in 'front line' politics. Midlothian and Midlothian Labour would have been greatly enriched were he to have been a councillor. Perhaps he's the best councillor Midlothian never had.