TOMMY Sheridan yesterday turned on one of his closest allies, denouncing the current leader of the Scottish Socialists as he stepped up his efforts to retake control of the party.

Despite recently giving Colin Fox his full support, Mr Sheridan said he had absolutely no confidence in him and said he lacked the "steel" to lead the SSP out of its present crisis.

In response, Mr Fox said his predecessor lacked the ability to work with other people and would "break the SSP apart" if he was re-elected as its leader.

Mr Sheridan's attempt to destroy Mr Fox suggests he sees him as the biggest obstacle to retaking the leadership at the party's conference in October.

Last night, the SSP's Orkney branch was due to pass a motion calling for Mr Sheridan to stand. As Mr Fox is top of the SSP's regional list in the Lothians for the 2007 election, it is thought Mr Sheridan's supporters may try to deselect him.