ANAS Sarwar has denied misleading the public by entering into council partnerships despite a pre-election pledge of no coalitions.

Scottish Labour have minority administrations in Fife, Stirling and South Lanarkshire – where deals with Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors granted the party control.

In Fife, the SNP have accused Labour of “trampling on democracy” after the party took control despite winning just 20 seats, compared to the SNP’s 34.

While Labour say they have not formed a coalition, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives voted for the minority administration to take power despite the SNP being the council’s largest party.

Scottish Labour leader Sarwar joined the newly-formed, minority-led Labour administration at South Lanarkshire Council in Hamilton on Friday.

When asked if the partnerships are coalitions in all but name, he said: “What we have sought to do is form Labour minority administrations and what’s right, I think, for local democracy is individual issues.

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“It’s important individual councillors and indeed individual political parties locally will seek to find the agreement and what’s best for local communities.

“That’s a refreshing way of doing local democracy and it’s perfectly consistent with what we said before the election, and I think it demonstrates our commitment to local issues, to have local issues be the focus of people, not leaders coming into local authorities to think they’re puppets of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.”

He insisted he has remained consistent with his pre-election pledge of no coalitions and rejected the idea that he had misled the public.

He said: “I was very clear before the election – no ifs, no buts – no coalition with the SNP and the Tories.

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“I made it very clear that we will seek to elect as many Labour councillors as possible

“I made it very clear that we will seek to form Labour minority administrations and that we will seek on individual issues to work with other individual councillors and indeed other individual political parties on issues of agreement over the course of the next five years.

“There is not a single coalition with the SNP or the Tories in any part of Scotland.

“That’s exactly what we said before the election and it’s consistent with what we said after the election, and I think people can see that for themselves.”

The definition of "coalition" is simply a group formed when two or more parties agree to work together, often temporarily, in a partnership to achieve a common goal.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said Sarwar's claims make him seem "shifty".

She said on Twitter: "Anas would be better just owning it. Denying what people can see with their own eyes - ie Lab administrations that are only possible with Tory support - makes him seem shifty and gives impression he thinks voters are daft…which just compounds the strategic political error."