Kezia Dugdale: Why I suspended Aberdeen councillors over Tory coalition deal

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale

Local services in Aberdeen have been hammered by cuts from central government in both Edinburgh and London.

Rather than using the Scottish Parliament to protect Aberdeen and the nort- east from public spending cuts, the SNP government in Edinburgh has turned Holyrood into a conveyor belt for Tory austerity – with £1.5billion slashed from schools and local services across Scotland.

In Aberdeen, one in five working people are on poverty pay. In parts of Aberdeen, like Northfield, nearly one in three children grow up in poverty.

We cannot accept any more cuts. They need to stop. That is why the democratically elected Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) of the Labour Party came up with a simple test for any power-sharing deal in the aftermath of the council elections.

The Scottish Executive Committee is made up of trade union representatives, local party members, affiliated groups and socialist societies.

We asked Labour groups in local government to prove that any power sharing deal they agreed would not mean further cuts falling on the poorest the most. We wanted to ensure that any Labour group in power in any council in Scotland stood up for what you would expect from Labour: defending local services against cuts, properly funding the services people rely on such as our schools, nurseries and care for the elderly.
In Aberdeen, a proposed deal with the Tories did not meet pass those tests. A panel of the SEC was not convinced that families in Aberdeen could be protected from further cuts.

But the councillors elected on a Labour platform decided they were still prepared to join forces with a party that is ultimately responsible for many of the problems facing local services in Aberdeen.

The Labour Party I lead will never support more cuts that will hurt the poorest the most. The party I lead will never abandon them to Tory or SNP austerity.