Tom Gordon

Scottish Political Editor

SCOTLAND’S newest political party launched yesterday with the long-term goal of becoming the “main opposition to the SNP”, but immediate plans to take votes from the Greens.

RISE, which stands for Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism, attracted around 500 supporters to its inaugural event in Glasgow.

The electoral alliance includes the Scottish Socialists, Radical Independence, the Scottish Left Project and other groups who plan to fight May’s Holyrood election as part of an anti-austerity coalition similar to Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain.

Standing candidates solely on the Holyrood list system, RISE hopes to return one MSP from each of the eight electoral regions by picking up around 16,000 votes per region.

RISE has no leader yet, but expects to elect office bearers at a conference in November.

Former Socialist MSP Colin Fox, who hopes to be a candidate in Lothian, told the meeting RISE was “the most important Left unity project Scotland has seen in a generation” and would combine ideas with action to defend and support the working class.

He said: “RISE is an important ingredient in maximising the strength of the ongoing independence movement. The independence movement does not belong to the SNP. It is not Nicola’s plaything. Supporting Scotland’s democratic right to self-determination does not make you a Scottish nationalist, it makes you a democrat.”

Trade union activist Cat Boyd, who hopes to be a Glasgow candidate, said RISE would continue the spirit of a grassroots independence movement that challenged “the will and might of the British state” and “spread panic among the highest tiers of the British establishment”.

She said: “Scotland need an anti-austerity movement now more than ever. We are now ruled by the most extreme, the most radically right-wing government in living memory.

“With imagination and organisation we can build a programme to confront the evils of poverty and inequality in our society and use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to give working class people a voice, to give people back some hope. Justice and equality is not going to be handed out by the rich and the powerful, it’s going to be seized by us, the people, from below.”

Highlands & Islands MSP Jean Urquhart, who quit the SNP in 2012 over Nato, said there was “a real need for radical politics” under the Tories and “a gap in the market” for RISE.

She confirmed she would be joining RISE, but would continue sitting as an Independent MSP.

RISE organiser Jonathon Shafi, who closed the event, said: “This is historic. We believe we can take the momentum from today right up to May next year and put socialist politics back at the heart of the Scottish Parliament where it belongs.”

Fox said later that Labour’s “existential crisis” meant it was in no state to oppose the SNP, which would become “RISE’s responsibility” instead.

He added: “We’re in competition with the Greens for second votes for Holyrood. The Greens are rather limp on independence. We’re passionate about it. We’re much more confident of getting the second vote from SNP supporters than the Greens.”

In response to the threat from RISE, the Scottish Greens, who also hope to win an MSP in each region, yesterday underlined their left-wing credentials by announcing plans to crack down on excessive private sector rents.