A NEW independence party which was dogged by paperwork problems has finally been registered to stand at May’s Holyrood election.
Action for Independence, which is backed by convicted perjurer Tommy Sheridan, was forced to change its name after falling foul of watchdogs.
However its registration has now been approved by the Electoral Commission, which ruled its first choice, Alliance for Independence, was potentially misleading as it exaggerated its support from other parties.
Launched by former SNP MSP Dave Thompson in July, AFI aims to “max the Yes” by fielding candidates only on the regional lists for Holyrood.
The intention is to pick up seats which would otherwise be impossible for the SNP to win, given their expected strength in constituencies.
In 2016, the SNP picked up only four list places for their 953,687 votes under Holyrood’s proportional system, because they had won 59 first-past-the-post seats.
AFI has asked other parties and independents to join it, but the Greens and SNP have refused and will field their own list candidates, potentially splitting the Yes vote.
New Independence party forced to change ‘misleading’ name
Another former SNP MSP, Chic Brodie, last year registered Scotia Future with independent Renfrewshire councillor Andy Doig.
An Independence for Scotland Party was also registered last May.
On the Unionist side, All for Unity (A4U) led by former MP George Galloway, also had its registration approved by the Electoral Commission today.
It too plans to field candidates on the list alone.
The only party to sign up to the AFI umbrella group is Solidarity, which has been involved from the outset, fuelling suspicions it is using the new party as a Trojan horse to rehabilitate Mr Sheridan, whose political career was destroyed by scandal a decade ago.
He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2011 for committing perjury in the £200,000 defamation action he won against the News of the World in 2006.
The now-defunct tabloid had claimed he visited a swingers’ club while a Glasgow MSP.
The scandal saw Mr Sheridan quit as leader of the Scottish Socialists and form Solidarity. He now works for the Kremlin-funded propaganda outlet Sputnik news.
Tommy Sheridan eyes comeback as Solidarity signs up with new Holyrood Yes party
Mr Thompson, who claims AFI could pick up 24 list seats and so pile pressure on Boris Johnson to grant Indyref2, said: “We are the only Yes regional list option that is set up to be able to include Yes Independents and any smaller Yes parties which wish to come onboard.
“Solidarity have already joined AFI and paved the way for others to do so.
“Every small Yes party that joins AFI can keep their own policy programme and select their own candidates for negotiated list places.
“AFI’s registration now paves the way for an escalation in our campaign to Max The Yes and create a supermajority for independence at May’s election.
“Everything is now in place to enable AFI to clear the Holyrood chamber of unionist stooges who do nothing but talk Scotland down.”
He added: “Our invite is a simple one.
“We ask the other smaller Yes parties who have not yet signed up to AFI to meet us for talks, without pre-conditions on either side, to discuss how best to Max the Yes at the forthcoming Holyrood elections.
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Launching his party online, Mr Galloway said: “We are diverse – politically diverse, diverse in every single way. We will be contesting every regional seat in the upcoming Scottish elections, whenever they may be.
“Our message is clear: vote for the best placed pro-Union candidate in the constituencies, to defeat the SNP, and then give your second regional vote to us, All for Unity.
“That way we maximise the number of people in the Scottish Parliament who want to get Scotland off the hamster wheel, who want to end the neverendum, who want to attend to Scotland’s deep-seated socioeconomic problems.
“For fourteen years, the SNP have been sinking Scotland. It’s time to Save our Scotland.
“We are coming to get the SNP. We are ready.”