Sheridan aims for Solidarity and Scottish independence

TOMMY Sheridan's new political party will be pro-independence, will be called "Solidarity - Scotland's Socialist Movement" and will be launched on Sunday, it was confirmed last night.

Some of the groups making up the new party had been reluctant to back Scottish independence, but Mr Sheridan has now got his way and it will be one of the central tenets of the party's policy platform.

Mr Sheridan said last week that he was seeking an "amicable divorce" from the Scottish Socialist Party, which he had helped to found.

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He and his allies have been publicly at war with opponents in the SSP since he won a 200,000 defamation action against the News of the World over allegations about his private life.

Rosemary Byrne, MSP for South of Scotland, said: "This is not a party just for ex-SSP members: it is a new movement that is open to all who share our vision of an independent, socialist republic in Scotland."

However, the "amicable divorce" may prove hard to achieve.

Mr Sheridan, Ms Byrne and the other four SSP MSPs paid into a central fund to cover staff costs. But now that Mr Sheridan and Ms Byrne have left the SSP, a gap will need to be filled, otherwise researchers and officials are in danger of losing their jobs.

The new party is currently negotiating with the SSP over the issues of party donations, staff and the ownership of the SSP's base in Glasgow.

A spokesman for the new party said: "Our main concern is for the staff, who are employed collectively, so they may not be comfortable working for one or others of the MSPs.

"But discussions are ongoing and we're trying to do it in as amicable a manner as possible."

He added: "We don't want to be fighting the SSP, we want to be fighting Tony Blair."

Solidarity members would elect an interim steering group at a conference in November.

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This will include Mr Sheridan and Ms Byrne, as well as two members from the eight regions. There will also be two members from both the Socialist Workers Party and the Committee for a Workers' International.