New Scots party 'not founded to save UK'

SCOTLAND'S newest political party was mired in confusion last night after its flamboyant founder denied previous reports it had been set up to "save the union".

In his first detailed comments since news of the party emerged, millionaire landowner Archie Stirling insisted that the preservation of the United Kingdom had not been uppermost in his mind when he conceived the party.

He said his party, the Scottish Democrats, was set up for Scots like him who felt "let down by the Holyrood establishment".

Stirling, the ex-husband of Dame Diana Rigg and whose uncle was Sir David Stirling, the founder of the SAS, added he would be launching the party next month to give a "new choice" to Scots.

The party has had a far from smooth launch after it emerged it planned to field candidates at May's Holyrood elections.

No details have yet been announced about where it intends to stand, or who its candidates might be. Stirling has not yet stated party policy beyond being "sensible, practical and pragmatic".

In a statement, he said: "The position of Scotland within the union is not central to this movement. I want to make devolution work and improve conditions for the Scottish people."

Stirling was quoted earlier this week as saying: "I would loathe the union to break up."

In the statement, Stirling added: "Over the last few years, I have been talking to hundreds of fellow Scots who share my view that the country is heading in the wrong direction. We feel let down by the Holyrood establishment, who have been inept, who offer nothing new and who hold back the economy and the Scottish people.

"The Holyrood parliament does not contain enough people with the drive, talent or experience to realise Scotland's potential. The conclusion that I have therefore reached is that the political establishment in Scotland must be shaken up and the power blocks that have dominated Scottish politics must be broken up."