Politics in Moray: Jack of SNP-ades!
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The immediate political future of Moray has just been decided by the cutting of a pack of cards.
In dramatic scenes not usually associated with local government, the SNP won the draw and will now remain in charge of the council's administration until the elections in May.
The cards were required following a vote which ended in a dead heat this afternoon.
A total of 12 councillors voted for a change in the adminstration.
Exactly the same number voted for the status quo, with one further councillor deciding to abstain.
As the council's leader Graham Leadbitter (Elgin South, SNP) was forced to speak remotely at the meeting due to the pandemic, his colleague Cllr Aaron McLean (Forres, SNP) drew a card in his stead.
Cllr McLean subsequently picked a Jack of Spades from the pack.
This beat Cllr Tim Eagle (Buckie, Conservative) who drew a Seven of Hearts.
Moray Council has been run by a minority SNP administation since 2017.
The resignation of an SNP councillor last month saw the party's number of councillors drop to seven out of a total of 26.
Today's motion to change the administration was brought forward by the nine elected Conservative members plus two Independents from the Moray Alliance Group.
Proposing it was Cllr Eagle, who is the leader of the Moray Conservative group.
He argued that Moray currently has a "democratic deficit".
In response his counterpart, Cllr Leadbitter, questioned both the timing and the motives of calling for a vote ahead of the local elections.
Under normal circumstances when votes are tied, the chairperson of a council committee would have the casting vote.
However, members were told that the normal rules do not apply when it comes to potentially changing an administration.
After a brief five-minute break, the cards were drawn live on the council's webcast.
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How all 25 councillors voted:
For the motion to change the administration:
- Tim Eagle (Buckie, Conservative)
- James Allen (Heldon Laich, Conservative)
- Derek Ross (Speyside/Glenlivet, Independent)
- Walter Wilson (Speyside/Glenlivet, Independent)
- Frank Brown (Elgin North, Conservative)
- Ray McLean (Elgin North, Conservative)
- Maria McLean (Elgin North, Conservative)
- Donald Gatt (Keith and Cullen, Conservative)
- Laura Powell (Keith and Cullen, Conservative)
- Clare Feaver (Forres, Conservative)
- Marc Macrae (Fochabers/Lhanbryde, Conservative)
- Ryan Edwards (Heldon and Laich (Independent)
Against the motion and to keep the status quo
- Graham Leadbitter (Elgin South, SNP)
- John Divers (Elgin South, Labour)
- Shona Morrison (Fochabers/Lhanbryde, SNP)
- Aaron McLean (Forres, SNP)
- George Alexander (Forres, Independent)
- Louise Nicol (Speyside/Glenlivet, SNP)
- David Bremner (Fochabers/Lhanbryde, SNP)
- Theresa Coull (Keith and Cullen, SNP)
- John Cowe (Heldon and Laich, Independent)
- Gordon Cowie (Buckie, Independent)
- Lorna Creswell (Forres, Independent)
- Sonya Warren (Buckie, SNP)
- Amy Taylor (Heldon and Laich, Independent)