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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2007, 05:11 GMT 06:11 UK
Socialists bid for independence
Colin Fox, of the Scottish Socialist Party

The Scottish Socialist Party has launched its Holyrood manifesto with a commitment to an independent Scotland.

The left-wing party also outlined its plans for free, Scotland-wide public transport, in the battle to fight climate change.

The SSP was co-founded by its former leader Tommy Sheridan, who has set up rival socialist party Solidarity.

The SSP said that, whatever the outcome of the election, it would push for an independence referendum within a year.

The party insisted that a Scotland-wide free public transport network was an idea "whose time has come", and that radical action was needed to move hundreds of thousands of travellers from private cars to public transport.

You won't find any big businesses backing the SSP
Colin Fox
SSP leader

The SSP said it would cost 1bn a year to introduce the free system and expanded services, fully accessible to disabled travellers, as well as bringing buses and railways into public ownership.

Part of the plan would see the Scotrail franchise transferred to a publicly-owned Scottish national rail company and fares for all rail journeys within Scotland scrapped.

This would happen when the franchise expired in 2011.

Party leader Colin Fox said: "Our call for free public transport, independence and wealth redistribution is going down a storm.

"Our manifesto is an unashamed socialist programme that would make a massive difference to the millions of Scots."


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Mr Fox added: "You won't find any big businesses backing the SSP."

The party said a parliamentary bill would be brought forward to re-regulate Scotland's buses before setting up a publicly-owned bus group, divided into 10 regional companies.

A further phase would see the removal of bus, underground, and passenger ferry fares.

Elsewhere, the SSP said it would build 25,000 new homes for social rent every year, financed by the abolition of councils' housing debt which, the party claimed, would generate 2bn over four years.

Scottish Socialists would also push for free school meals, the costs of which they claimed would be "negligible" when set against the overall Scottish budget, and replace council tax with an income-related alternative.

The SSP launches its manifesto at Hampden Park

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