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Liberal Democrats ‘open’ to pact with Tories to oust Nats in Edinburgh

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has said that his party could support an “alliance” with the Conservatives to take control of Edinburgh Council.

The Daily Record reports that whilst he won’t ban local Lib Dem groups from reaching agreements with the SNP, he has ruled out propped up “failing” Nationalist leadership in the capital and in Glasgow.

As the local election campaigns head up, the Tories are trying to highlight examples of other parties collaborating with the Nationalists in order to try and solidify the pro-UK vote behind themselves.

Earlier this week, Ruth Davidson claimed that Labour councillors would “help” their Nationalist counterparts nod through controversial diktats from Bute House, pointing out that the party is in coalition with the SNP on six councils.

This prompted both Sir Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar, Labour’s leader in Scotland, to speak out against formal coalitions with Nicola Sturgeon’s party.

Starmer in particular will be wary of the Conservatives reviving their very effective 2015 campaign against Ed Miliband, which painted a picture of a minority Labour government in the pocket of Alex Salmond.

And speaking of the SNP…

First Minister likened to Trump after barring press from campaign launch

Scottish print media are up in arms after Sturgeon barred them from the launch of the Nationalists’ local election campaign. According to the Scotsman, only broadcasters such as the BBC and STV welcome at what an SNP spokesman branded “not a typical launch event”.

This decision is especially baffling in light of one detail unearthed as part of an excellent recent investigation into the Nationalists’ ‘secret state’ by the Spectator:

“The Scottish government’s 175 communications staff dwarf the BBC’s 34 reporters, meaning that even the publicly funded broadcasters have one person asking questions for every five who answer them. Remarkably, the bill for Holyrood’s press officers and special advisers has increased by 50 per cent since 2018, despite newspaper sales halving since the SNP came to power.”

Nor is Scotland the only part of the kingdom suffering for Westminster’s hands-off approach to the devolved territories – as I noted in the Critic, Northern Ireland is paying a heavy price for successive governments’ refusal to take responsibility for good government in the Province.

In other news, a member of the First Minister’s cabinet has likened opponents of gender self-ID laws to antisemites. Lorna Slater, a member of the Scottish Greens whom Sturgeon brought into government last year, alleged opponents of her plans were funded by “certain right-wing American groups”.

The First Minister is also set to increase Scotland’s constitutional divergence from the rest of the United Kingdom by giving 16-year-olds the right to stand for election to the Scottish Parliament.