Tommy Sheridan, and fellow member of the Scottish Parliament Rosemary Byrne, have called a meeting on 3 September to bring people together to discuss launching a new socialist party in Scotland.
Since Tommy Sheridan, former convenor of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), won his recent libel case against the News of the World, debate has raged about how to take the left forward.
A faction of the SSP has continued to publicly attack and undermine Sheridan. Although he thinks that these people could be defeated at the planned October conference of the SSP, Tommy Sheridan believes that it is now time to leave.
“The developments of the last few months have not been pleasant or planned, but are necessary,” he told Socialist Worker. “The internal regime that the vicious faction has created is not only unhealthy, but completely unacceptable for genuine debate and exchange of ideas.
“I think that we all have battles that have to be fought. But whenever you fight, you have to ensure that it is a battle worth winning.
“To tear each other apart for the next six to seven weeks would leave the winners with a fatally wounded rump, not a re-energised socialist party. I think that we have to draw a line under the personal name calling and move on.”
In a recent statement to supporters, Tommy Sheridan makes it clear that there is much for a new party to fight for.
He writes, “I have in mind a new movement that would continue the battle for the vision we all hold dear - of an independent socialist Scotland free from poverty and want, of internationalism, of freedom from environmental destruction, of opposition to Bush and Blair’s imperialist wars.”
He told Socialist Worker that the SSP had been a fantastic development over its seven years, but that “it has become narrow and sectarian in outlook with a vicious streak of personal character assassination which we must leave behind.
“There is still a world to win and I hope the 3 September meeting will see the launch of something bigger, bolder and better than the SSP.
“I hope it will be a positive, outward looking meeting which decides to link up with all of the progressive movements in Scotland to build to a genuinely mass movement for socialism that is open to all who are moving in that direction.”
Support for a new party is growing.
South of Scotland region of the SSP voted last weekend to support the 3 September meeting.
On Monday, Sheridan’s own branch, Cardonald in Glasgow, voted with 20 in favour, none against and one abstention to support the founding of a new party.
There is also significant support and interest from trade unions.
This includes the T&G shop stewards’ committee that represents some 700 open cast miners in Ayrshire - who are supporting Tommy Sheridan.