28 August 2006

Is "Solidarity" in breach of the Trades Descriptions Act?

We now know that Tommy Sheridan is pretty much certain to quit the SSP and set up a new group called "Solidarity". We also know that quite a few activists and SSP Branches are going with him, including the SWP and the CWI (as expected). The most important defection though is Rosemary Byrne's. This gives Solidarity two MSPs, and leaves the SSP with four. You need five MSPs to be given a seat on the Parliamentary Bureau and a slot at FMQs. Neither of them have this, so Tommy has just made both groups significantly weaker. Nor is either group likely to join the group of Independents as long as Brian Monteith is in it. Now, you can't really blame them for this, but it seems a strange position to take when Campbell Martin (who launched recently a broadside at the SNP for being too right-wing) is comfortable enough within the group.

If you want a wager, here's my tip: within Holyrood, it'll be Solidarity who are isolated (though they'll take most of the SSP activists and voters with them over the next few weeks and months), and the SSP will be making doe-eyes at Campbell Martin just to keep them at 5 MSPs. If he has any sense, he'll ignore them: they need him more than he needs them, and while he has nothing to lose or gain right now whatever he does, he'd probably do better next May as an Independent than as an SSP candidate.

In other news, Tory activists in Mid Scotland and Fife have suggested to Party members that the wisest course of action would be to de-select all of the Party's MSPs. This hasn't a chance of succeeding (though a couple might find themselves in the wilderness, as Keith Harding and Lyndsey McIntosh did last time around), but it is slightly embarrassing for Annabel Goldie to have this row played out in public. If they go back to internecine warfare (and it's been ages since they've had enough people to do that), then they can wave goodbye to any prospects of progress next year.

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