The veteran politician and campaigner on his return to Scottish politics.
by PETER CASSIDY
FORMER Scottish Socialist Party MSP, outspoken personality and Cardonald native Tommy Sheridan will be attempting a surprise political comeback this May as co-convener and Glasgow list candidate for Solidarity, a socialist and pro-independence party.
The party are hoping to get Scottish independence back on the political agenda with a second referendum as early as 2018.
Tommy, who hosted the pro-independence Hope Over Fear rally in George Square, is convinced of a different outcome this time.
He said: “What all of the Yes community [have] to bear in mind is that when the Yes campaign started there was only 24-25% support for independence. But after a year-long campaign that support grew to 45%.
“We will be starting the next referendum campaign on a base of 45% [and] we will undoubtedly secure 60% plus n the next referendum.”
An SSP MSP for Glasgow between 1999 and 2007, Tommy will be standing in the list vote but also promoting a vote for the SNP in the constituency polls.
He said: “Solidarity is for an independent socialist Scotland.
“We are standing at the Scottish Parliament election seeking only the second vote.
“We are not standing [in] the constituencies . We are only standing on the eight regional lists across Scotland.
“What we are asking people to do is to vote independence with their first vote, and vote independence and socialism with their second vote.
“Personally, in Cardonald, where I live, I will be voting SNP with my first vote, and Solidarity with my second.”
The pro-independence Hope Over Fear rally, orchestrated by Sheridan, attracted thousands to George Square.
He added: “The way the voting system works, the more seats you win first-past-the-post, the less your vote applies in the regional list.
“Voting SNP twice in a city like Glasgow is wasting your second vote, and you are much better voting for one of the smaller pro-independence parties, whether that is Solidarity or one of the [others].
He added: “There [have] now been about 12 opinion polls since September last year, and every single one of them is showing over 50% for the SNP in the first vote.
“The SNP are going to win between 70 and 73 of the available first-past-the-post seats, so they are going to win a majority government.
“The Yes community have to be smart and use their second votes to electorally punish the unionist parties.”
But how likely is it that the unmistakable sight of Tommy Sheridan – or any other Solidarity candidates – will be back in Holyrood this time next year?
He said: “What we have to do is convince six out of every 100 people to give us their second vote. 6% of the vote is all that we require, and we think that is a [realistic] target.
“We are standing in all eight regions. It will be more difficult in some regions than others, but the truth is we are not looking for 20% or 25%.
“We are looking for 6 people out of every 100 who use their second vote to give [it] to Solidarity and that is very [realistic] – particularly if the Yes community realise, as they must, that giving their second vote to the SNP is going to help the Labour Party and the Tory Party – and the last thing the Yes community want to do is help the unionist parties.
“So they must use their second vote wisely, and they must put cause before party.”
“The Yes community have a choice – they can [cast] both votes for the SNP, and allow the unionists to remain as a very negative and destructive opposition, or they can [cast] their second vote for the cause of independence and elect a left wing constructive opposition to the SNP.”
Solidarity’s manifesto is built on five key pledges. Tommy spells them out…
A second independence referendum by 2018: “We are going to fight for that for 2018 and present a bill to commit the Parliament to hold an independence referendum by 2018.”
Anti-austerity council budgets: “We are calling on Parliament, and all 32 local authorities, not to implement Tory cuts. We are looking for defiance, not compliance.”
A reformed council tax: “It bears very little relationship to a person’s ability to pay. We want to replace that with an income based alternative.”
An end to fracking – and Trident: “Fracking is unnecessary and environmentally unsound. We want to invest in wind, wave, and solar power – that is the future of Scotland. And associated with that, we want rid of Trident.”
Re-nationalised services: “We want our oil, our gas, our electricity, our railways, owned and controlled by the public, and in particular we believe it is time…to start supplying the NHS [through] a publicly owned pharmaceutical company
Tommy has never hidden the firm socialist beliefs he has campaigned for his whole adult life.
He now believes that, in the time of current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, left wing and progressive politics are as popular in Scotland as they have ever been.
He said: “I am absolutely convinced that the 45% that voted Yes to independence represent the growing tide of progressive politics in Scotland.
“I think the overwhelming majority of those [who] voted Yes voted for a new, fairer, non-nuclear Scotland and that, under any analysis, is a left wing position.
“If you then take that into the General Election last year and look at the votes for the SNP – who stood very clearly on an anti-austerity ticket, an anti-nuclear ticket and an anti-privatisation ticket and wiped the board in Scotland – that to me is evidence that Scotland is moving to the left.
“It is a progressive, left-of-centre country and on that basis socialism is very much on the agenda.”
Make sure you’re registered to vote in the Scottish Parliament elections at gov.uk/register-to-vote.”