TALKS are under way to create a new left-wing party in the wake of the independence referendum.

Figures in the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) and the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) have discussed uniting left-wing groups divided by nearly a decade of turmoil. Until 2004, the SSP had brought together disparate elements of the Left under a pro-independence and anti-capitalist banner.

The party's high point was the 2003 Holyrood election, in which it got six MSPs returned and polled 15.2% of the List vote in Glasgow.

However, following ex-SSP leader Tommy Sheridan's decision to sue a tabloid newspaper over allegations relating to his private life, the party split and faded away electorally.

Despite the lack of electoral success north of the border recently, the referendum campaign has given the broader Left a shot in the arm.

The wider Yes campaign is dominated by left-wing groups and individuals, including RIC, the Jimmy Reid Foundation, the SSP and the Greens.

Other than the Greens, which has two MSPs, no electoral vehicle exists to bring all the groups together.

The informal talks - involving key players in a variety of organisations - have centred around creating a new Left party or umbrella group.

The discussions are at the exploratory stage and are likely to be stepped up after September 18.

A red line for many of those involved is that Sheridan, who is seen as a divisive and toxic figure, plays no part in any new group.

Another obstacle is that the RIC contains individuals previously involved with the Socialist Workers Party, an outfit mistrusted by the SSP.

Colin Fox, the SSP co-convener, confirmed "informal" discussions had taken place but restated his commitment to the SSP. He added any umbrella group would have to have a clear focus on the working class.

Robin McAlpine, the director of the Jimmy Reid Foundation, said the creation of a new vehicle would depend on whether the SNP and Labour left open the space for such a new entity.