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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Socialists urge anti-war vote
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The SSP is aiming to win its first European seat
The Scottish Socialist Party has unveiled its European manifesto with a call for voters to use the ballot as a referendum on the war in Iraq.

The party is also promising disobedience if one of its candidates becomes an MEP.

The socialists claim they are the true anti-war party and are demanding troops be withdrawn from Iraq.

They also view the election as an opportunity to protest at the growing wealth gap between rich and poor.

The socialists are hoping their European election campaign will result in a repeat of the success enjoyed at last year's Holyrood poll.

The party won six seats in the Scottish Parliament election and it is now aiming to win enough votes to secure its first European seat.

At its manifesto launch on Monday in Glasgow it urged voters to back the SSP - or "scream out in rage" - in protest against the invasion of Iraq.

The manifesto highlighted the party's vision of an independent Scotland and redistribution of the nation's wealth.

The lengthy document also outlined detailed party policies such as renationalisation of industry, nuclear disarmament, repatriation of fishing rights and a ban on genetically modified crops.

On European integration, it condemned the European Union as a "profiteers' paradise", which promotes capitalist free markets at the expense of the public sector and workers generally.

'Critique of Europe'

Instead, it advocates a "commonwealth of independent states based on social priorities".

SSP leader Tommy Sheridan insists that the Scottish Socialists are an internationalist party, contrasting it with the "Union Flag-waving, Rule Britannia-singing Europhobia of the Tory right".

He said: "We want to extend the hand of friendship to all the peoples of Europe, east and west, but that doesn't mean we're pro-European Union.

Tommy Sheridan speaks
Tommy Sheridan said he wanted a different Europe
"In our manifesto we set out our critique of the EU and its top down, bureaucratic, ultra-centralised institutions.

"We argue for a different Europe, a diverse and democratic Europe, a socialist Europe."

The SSP is hoping to win enough votes across Scotland in the 10 June poll to ensure its first choice candidate Felicity Garvie becomes one of Scotland's seven MEPs.

At the last European Parliament election, in 1999, Labour won three of Scotland's seats with 28.68% of the vote, closely followed by the SNP with 27.17% of the vote, picking up two seats.

The Tories, who won 19.76% support also had two MEPs elected, while the Liberal Democrats, with a 9.81% share of the vote picked up one seat.

The Scottish Greens secured 5.78% of the vote, the SSP 4%.

However, from the 1999 Holyrood election to the same poll last year the Socialists saw their share of first-past-the-post constituency votes rise from under 1% to more than 6%, and their regional list support increase from just under 2% to 7%.


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