A NEW anti-austerity alliance dubbed the "Scottish Syriza" is to stand candidates at next year's Scottish Parliament elections.

The Scottish Socialist Party, which had six MSPs from 2003 to 2007, voted yesterday to take part in the new left-wing umbrella group alongside the Scottish Left Project.

The plan is to field candidates on the Holyrood regional lists in 2016 to maximise the chance of socialist MSPs being elected.

It means the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) and others involved will not stand in their own name, but will instead run under the banner of the new electoral pact.

With list MSPs previously elected on as little as 5.2 per cent of the regional vote, organisers hope a public backlash against Tory austerity cuts will see the far left return to Holyrood after a break of almost a decade.

The new alliance has yet to be named, although early suggestions include United Left, Left Alternative and Scottish Left.

The umbrella model is based on Syriza in Greece, which was formed in 2004 as a coalition of 13 radical groups, including Maoists, Trotskyists, feminists and environmentalists.

It became a unitary party in 2013 and this year won almost half the seats in a general election to become the dominant partner in a coalition government led by Alexis Tsipras.

SSP members yesterday agreed by a majority at their annual conference in Edinburgh to proceed with the new arrangement, kick-starting talks on policy and strategy.

Further details on potential candidates are expected over the summer.

The move was recommended by the SSP's executive, who stressed the change was not creating a new party but "a progressive alliance within which the SSP will operate".

However some SSP members fear the party's identity will be diluted.

After the meeting, former MSP and SSP co-convenor Colin Fox likened the pact to a Scottish Syriza, which would become something more than the sum of its parts.

He said: "There's an appetite out there for a united Left. You don't have to be a nationalist to support self-determination. We're offering a home for people who are genuinely against austerity. The SNP's anti-austerity credentials are flimsy. We're also a home for people who want a democratic republic. There's a big constituency and a big opportunity out there."

Jonathan Shafi, co-founder of the Radical Independence Campaign and the Scottish Left Project, who addressed the meeting, said he hoped the pact was the start of a major realignment on the Left in Scotland now that Labour was in "terminal" decline.

He said: "This is a landmark development. The referendum changed the political climate and led to a political awakening and a rebirth of interest in socialist ideas. This is a long term process to rebuild socialist politics in Scotland and electoral support for it."

The Scottish Left Project (SLP), which is supported by former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars and Independent MSP John Wilson, was launched after the referendum as a grassroots forum for left-wing ideas and talent.

Its founders include many members of the Radical Independence Campaign, including Shafi and trade union activist Cat Boyd, who recently advocated direct action to make the UK "ungovernable" following the Tories' election win.

Its principles are "participatory democracy, democratic public ownership, the redistribution of wealth and power from the rich to the poor and full independence from the British state and its monarch."

Although meant as an umbrella group, the new electoral pact is likely to be dominated by the SSP because of the history of ill will and factionalism on the Left.

Solidarity, the party set up in 2006 by Tommy Sheridan after his split with the SSP, will not be invited to join, and nor is there much enthusiasm for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Alliance, which stood 10 candidates in Scotland on May 7.

The Scottish Greens, who pulled out of a Red-Green alliance with the SSP in last year's Euro elections, letting in a Ukip MEP, are also keen to stand in their own right in 2016.

A Scottish Labour source of the new arrangement said: ��"They should try the name Solidarity, that worked really well last time."