Alliance between George Galloway and Solidarity 'still on the cards'

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A left-wing alliance featuring George Galloway and members of Tommy Sheridan`s Solidarity Party is still on the cards, party members said today.

Relations between the pair were strained last month amid speculation that Mr Sheridan`s wife Gail was due to stand against Mr Galloway on the Glasgow list in the forthcoming Scottish elections.

Mr Galloway and Mrs Sheridan had previously negotiated standing together on a single ticket, but talks floundered over differences about Scottish independence, political leanings and Mr Sheridan`s tarnished reputation.

The former Scottish Socialist Party MSP is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for perjury.

However, after her husband's sentencing, Mrs Sheridan said she had no intention of standing for Holyrood, and will instead focus her attention on the Glasgow Council elections next year.

Next Monday there will be a public reconciliation when she joins Mr Galloway at Renfield Street St Stephen`s Church in Glasgow for a Defend Tommy Sheridan Campaign rally.

The reconciliation has opened the door for renewed negotiations about a left-wing alliance between Mr Galloway`s Respect Party and Solidarity.

Shortly before the sentencing last month, Mr Galloway said: "The Sheridans and Solidarity want Scottish independence. I don't. They're an ultra-left group and my values are real Labour.

"And the third issue was that, if Gail were on the ticket, it would become a referendum on Tommy and the trial, and not about my candidature."

However, party members said they were now working through the differences towards a possible alliance, but that it is unlikely to be a straight Solidarity-Respect ticket as previously mooted.

Mr Galloway`s political assistant Ron McKay said: "Although nothing has been decided yet, a George Galloway Respect Anti-Cuts Alliance could include Solidarity members on the list, but it won`t be a Respect-Solidarity linkage.

"Apart from anything else there couldn`t be because the Electoral Commission doesn`t allow party alliances to stand together, although the Con-Dems at Westminster will no doubt do something to change that.

"However, there are obviously ambitions and policies that Solidarity and Respect share, chiefly opposition to the most severe cuts in living memory, so there are joint links that are workable.

"The stage we`re at just now is that George is standing, we need to put forward eight people, George is the only one we`ve announced so far, and negotiations are continuing with others both allied and non-allied."

Solidarity national secretary Graeme McIver confirmed that Solidarity remained part of these discussions.

He said: "Negotiations continue in Glasgow between Solidarity and George Galloway`s Respect.

"(A Solidarity-Respect ticket) was Tommy`s preference but it did look at one stage that this would be unlikely. It`s not resolved yet though.

"In the meantime, we continue to prepare for the elections and intend to field candidates all across Scotland."