SCOTLAND’S new left-wing electoral alliance is to be called RISE, the Sunday Herald can reveal.
The grassroots anti-austerity movement, anchored around the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) and the Scottish Left Project (SLP), has been taking shape over the last eight months under the nickname the Scottish Syriza.
However it will be be formally launched as RISE, which stands for Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism, in Glasgow next Saturday.
Up to 1000 activists are expected to attend the Marriott Hotel for the event, which will include more than 30 speakers and examine policies for next May’s Holyrood election.
Among those taking part will be representatives from Syriza, Spain’s Podemos movement, Quebec Solidaire and Black Lives Matter, plus Independent MSP Jean Urquhart, German MP Andrej Hunko of the Left party Die Linke, and Mike Small, founder of the Bella Caledonia blog.
There will also be a message of support from veteran journalist Tariq Ali.
Describing itself as “Scotland’s Left Alliance”, RISE will field candidates exclusively on regional lists, from which MSPs can be elected with as little as 5.2 per cent of the vote.
As part of an electoral pact to maximise the chance of socialist MSPs being elected, the SSP will refrain from standing candidates, giving RISE a clear run.
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.
The Respect element of RISE refers to equalities - it has no links to George Galloway’s party.
The new name, with its whiff of revolution, is intended to catch the attention of voters drawn to the Left in response to the Tory government, but who doubt the commitment of Scottish Labour and the SNP to radical change.
SSP co-convenor Colin Fox, who hopes to be a RISE candidate, said even if Jeremy Corbyn became the next UK Labour leader it would not fundamentally change the party.
“I fully expect Labour’s existential crisis to deepen whether Jeremy Corbyn wins or not. He does not support independence or further powers for the Scottish Parliament. That offers very little to attract the progressive left opinion that’s gathered round the SLP.
“If Corbyn becomes leader he’ll also be a prisoner of the right wing of Labour from day one. They’re already orchestrating a coup against him.
“We’ll be looking to take the fight to the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon says they’re against austerity and privatisation, but they have a different track record. The SNP is no place for a socialist.”
Trade union activist Cat Boyd said: “We want ordinary people in Scotland to have a voice against the onslaught of austerity, against the erosion of our trade union rights and against the unchallenged privileged and power of the few who think they have the absolute right to rule.”
Playwright Alan Bissett said he was "really excited" about RISE, adding: "The left had been struggling until the injection of energy and momentum from the referendum, when working-class and young people started to engage with politics. A pro-Yes voice, to the left of the SNP and Scottish Labour and committed to the working-class, should be a prerequisite of our parliament.”
Refugee rights campaigner Pinar Aksu added: “This fresh approach will provide a voice that will put people at the forefront, not the corporate interests which dominate our society.”
RISE organiser Jonathan Shafi, who also co-founded the Radical Independence Campaign in the referendum, rejected the suggestion that Syriza’s current problems and splits showed the Left’s high hopes in Scotland were doomed.
“Greece actually underlines the need for similar left movements to develop in northern Europe to provide support to other governments of the radical left - to prevent them being isolated.”
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “Presumably this leftist movement hopes to have slightly better longevity than Syriza, which U-turned on its anti-austerity platform and is now collapsing into typical infighting. But one wonders how long before RISE becomes FALL?”
The advent of RISE means unprecedented competition for Holyrood’s 56 list places, as the strength of the SNP means Labour, the Tories, LibDems and Scottish Greens are now all reliant on the list system for MSPs. Convicted perjurer Tommy Sheridan is also standing for Solidarity in Glasgow.