Victory in the Buckie by-election last week has left the SNP group as the largest single political alliance in the Council – and that leaves them with the right to seize power.
However, to do so would require the assistance of either the two Labour councillors or the official Tory councillors on the local authority, with the most likely alliance expected to be with Councillors Douglas Ross and James Allan, who were sacked from the Independent/Tory administration following disagreement over key policies.
Last night Labour councillor Sean Morton admitted that if his group were faced with the same decision they would not hesitate to press their policies through. However, he made it clear he did not believe that the SNP would risk pressing for control.
He told the P&J: “It will be an interesting week for sure – but it is all about what the SNP decide to do.
“They have the right to try and take control – if we had 11 Labour councillors we would try to push our policies through. I feel after three years it’s been a turbulent council already, but I don’t see the SNP getting involved so close to the next council election.”
Council leader Stewart Cree meanwhile admitted that the ball was very much in the SNP’s court, insisting that the position now was little different from when the Council was formed after the 2012 election.
He said: “People forget that we are not far off where we started – SNP lost a seat in Lossiemouth, we lost one in Buckie. In the independent group we regained one in Buckie then there was one in Elgin that went from Labour to SNP.”
Last night the SNP group were remaining tight lipped over what their decision might be, with a spokesman saying that they were in no position to comment until after their group met today.
The next round of council elections in Scotland are scheduled for May 2017, with the current session unusually a five-year term to avoid a clash with the Scottish Parliamentary elections taking place next year.
See also the insideMoray Editorial – http://insidemoray.scot/editorial-time-for-the-moray-nationalists-to-put-up-or-shut-up/