Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar says that he wants the suspended councillors known as the Aberdeen Nine to be readmitted to the party.
Speaking during an interview on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Mr Sarwar was quizzed on their suspension after forming an administration with the Conservatives in 2017.
He said: “I want them to be back in. I believe they are Labour councillors who are working on the frontline delivering Labour policies in Aberdeen, a Labour manifesto in Aberdeen, making progress in Aberdeen and actually won the UK council of the year.
“We should be proud of that fact.”
The Glasgow MSP added he “opposes both the UK and Scottish Tories” and that they are “wrong in so many areas”.
He added: “But can you work with different individual political parties on individual issues?
“I worked with the SNP, for example, around the period products bill, or my party did, and on rights of retail workers.
“I worked with the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives to scrap the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, which was doing so much damage to our communities.
“We worked with the Greens around reversing the exams fiasco of last year.
“So I’m not averse to working with individual political parties on individual issues because I do think there comes a point where there are issues where you have to work together in the national interest.”
The group have been banned from standing as Labour councillors until 2022.
However, Kevin Stewart, SNP candidate for Aberdeen Central in next month’s Holyrood election, described the alliance between the suspended Labour group and the Conservatives as a “national disgrace”.
He said: “When push comes to shove Anas Sarwar can’t even rule out a unionist pact on a local council, never mind at a national level.
“Mr Sarwar has barely been in the job a month and already he has opened the door on future Labour and Tory coalitions – he can’t be taken seriously.”
However, Ms Laing, leader of the Aberdeen Labour group, hit back at Mr Stewart, accusing him of “hypocrisy” over the SNP’s decision not to go into coalition with Labour following the 2017 local elections.
She said: “It was good to hear how sensible Anas Sarwar is in respect of the Aberdeen Nine.
“He fully understands that the only way in which Labour can improve people’s lives is by being in administration.
“The hypocrisy coming from Kevin Stewart and SNP is simply breathtaking when you consider that they were offered the opportunity to serve the people of Aberdeen by implementing the Labour manifesto in full but they declined.
“SNP austerity and their central belt bias is holding Aberdeen back and the citizens of Aberdeen have an opportunity in May’s election to send a clear message to the SNP that enough is enough.”
‘We don’t support independence’
On his party’s position on Scottish independence, he said: “We don’t support independence and we don’t support another referendum and the basis of that is I want us to focus on our national recovery.”
He said parties who want a referendum in the next parliament are “wrong and misguided”.