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Solidarity vows to push for second independence referendum

Tommy Sheridan.
Tommy Sheridan.

Left-wing party Solidarity has vowed to press for a second independence referendum to be held in two years’ time, as it called on Scotland’s voters to “punish” the pro-UK parties for the “despicable lies” told in the run-up to the 2014 vote.

Co-convener Tommy Sheridan launched the party’s manifesto for Holyrood in Glasgow with a promise that any Solidarity MSPs who are elected will bring forward Bills in eight priority areas – and that first among these would be legislation to hold a second independence referendum in 2018.

Mr Sheridan, a former MSP who served a jail sentence after being convicted of perjury, spoke out as he launched the manifesto, which is described as being “radical, visionary and socialist to the core”.

It said the party refused to accept the result of the 2014 referendum – which saw Scots vote by 55% to 45% against independence – and pledged that within three months of being elected Solidarity MSPs would table an IndyRef2 Bill.

Mr Sheridan said: “We are supremely confident that the people of Scotland realise they were lied to, bullied and conned. People realise the British establishment used everything in its power to lie and bully the ordinary people of Scotland and it had an effect, particularly on the pensioner community, who had people phoning them telling them ‘if you vote Yes you’re going to lose your pension’.

“Despicable lies from the unionist parties. Those unionist parties deserve to be punished at the election for the lies they told. We will win in 2018.”

That result, according to Solidarity, would allow Scotland to become independent on April 6 2020, the 700th anniversary of the historic Declaration of Arbroath.

Mr Sheridan said: “We see that independence not as the end of our journey, but the start of our journey to transform this country.”

With the left-wing party fielding 40 candidates, including Mr Sheridan’s wife Gail, on the regional list section, Solidarity is urging its supporters to vote for pro-independence parties in the constituency section of the ballot – a change from its previous policy of calling on people to vote for the SNP.

Solidarity did not stand any candidates in last May’s Westminster election, urging people to instead vote for Nicola Sturgeon’s party.

But Mr Sheridan said his party was “disappointed the SNP has not in the last 12 months opposed austerity in the way their general election mantra led us to believe they would”.

He added: “We think they need a wee bit of backbone and we’re going to supply that backbone by being elected to the Holyrood parliament.”

With jobs and services under threat as a result of spending cuts, Mr Sheridan said Solidarity “want to be elected to the Scottish Parliament to convene a council of war” against austerity with councils, trade unions and community groups.

The party also supports a ban on fracking and nuclear weapons, withdrawal from the European Union and the legalisation of cannabis, with Mr Sheridan declaring: “We believe it is wrong to continue to criminalise someone for smoking a joint. It is a victimless crime.”

He predicted the SNP could win all 73 constituency seats at Holyrood on May 5, saying they are “about to romp this election, based on the constituency vote alone”.

As a result he said the election “is about the battle for the second vote”, which helps determine how regional list MSPs are selected.

With SNP support likely to be high in constituencies, Mr Sheridan said Ms Sturgeon’s party could pick up as few as three additional MSPs this way.

“In no other way, shape or form can that be described as anything other than a wasted vote,” he said.

“The truth is in six of the eight regions in Scotland a second vote for SNP is wasted because 90% of those votes cast won’t be counted, because the SNP will win all of the constituencies.”