22 June 2009

The Granite City Putsch

It seems that the LibDems have ousted their Leader in Aberdeen, Councillor Kate Dean. The councillor has been calling the shots since 2003 if memory serves, presiding over the budget crisis that has brought the Council and Council services to its knees.

This had to happen sooner or later: reports about Aberdeen City Council - and the LibDems in particular - were hostile, yet she was intent on carrying on. Sooner or later, something had to give, and if she didn't jump, she would have to be pushed. It appears that this is what has happened.

Her replacement is John Stewart (this has the potential to be confusing: the LibDem Group and Council Leader, and SNP Group Leader and Council Depute Leader with the same surname). There's an LGBT significance too: the Councils of two of Scotland's three largest cities are now led by openly gay men.

But the political significance takes priority: Dean also led the LD/Tory Coalition that was in charge in Aberdeen between 2003 and 2007. In a sense, her downfall represents a break with the past, and an administration that ended two years ago. As the SNP were in opposition during that time, there was an inherent tension in the Coalition: to blame past administrations for the financial difficulties plaguing the City Council since the election was to blame the Leader of their current Coalition administration.

However, there's another factor: what significance is there in the Labour Group also having a new Leader in Barney Crockett? We do have to bear in mind that the LibDems and Labour combined do have a majority on the Council. Could the LibDems join forces with the party they ousted in 2003?

What we know at this stage is that it's not business as usual in Aberdeen. What we don't know is whether this strengthens the current administration, or whether we're about to witness a change in arrangements. Time will tell, but this one is worth following.


Anonymous said...

If the stories I have heard about John Stewart are even 5% accurate he will be lucky to see Christmas as leader.

subrosa said...

Fun and games in Aberdeen City chambers then. I look forward to the next installment.

Malc said...

Barney Crockett is the Labour candidate in Gordon for the next General Election.

Would I be cynical in suggesting Labour have made him more prominent in the hope he can actually win some votes in the constituency?

Anonymous said...


Some more intrigue for you in so far as Cllr Scott Cassie, the Lib Dem Deputy Leader, is now being investigated over serious allegations.

Seemingly he and his wife took a large sum from community council accounts and put it in their bank account.

Could be a by-election on the horizon!

Ted Harvey said...

I've found the Aberdeen civic atmosphere a strange one.

Just under two years ago I returned there to attend a community development event. I sat on the plenary open discussion and Q&A panel session. Prior to this we had heard presentations from Council offcials on how strong, effective and inclusive all their community planning etc was. I also know that the (now defunct) Communities Scotland regulatory people gave them glowing formal reports in this area.

Nevertheless, once the open session at the event got going and real community representatives and residents spoke, it was clear that there seemed to be a huge gap between the earier presentations and the sense of exclusion and powerlessness (and a little anger) that was coming from 'the real people'

This echoed my experience of few years earlier when I heard the city administration much congratulating itself on inclusive community engagement. At that time there was the (highly regarded) Northern Partnership Social Inclusion Partnership. From the Partnership's community representatives the story was that the Cooncil was never especially open to them and that it took advantage of the arrival of Community Planning Partnerships to promptly bring about closure of the Northern Partnership; leaving not a subsequent trace of this admirable outfit.