Scotland politics

Scottish election: Socialist Labour Party profile

Arthur Scargill
Image caption Scargill was in the Labour Party for 34 years before creating the SLP

Arthur Scargill left the Tony Blair-led Labour Party in 1996, after it abandoned a clause in its constitution which advocated the nationalisation of key industries and utilities.

He formed the Socialist Labour Party because, as he put it, "the socialist concept of common ownership ... had been purged from New Labour".

The name was a deliberate nod to the Socialist Labour Party led by James Connolly, one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, whose quotation features prominently on the SLP website.

By the time the party was formed, Mr Scargill's career in the British labour movement had spanned nearly 30 years.

He left school at the age of 15 to follow his father into coal mining. And like his father, Mr Scargill also joined the Communists until his move to the Labour Party in 1962, at the age of 24.

His first involvement in major industrial action came 10 years later, when he took part in a mass picket in Birmingham.

The national miners' strike over pay in 1972 was the first in almost 50 years.

At the time, three-quarters of the electricity used in the UK came from coal-burning power stations so any action had major ramifications - as seen in the declaration of a state of emergency and a three-day week not long after the strike began.

Scargill was elected president of the National Union of Mineworkers' Yorkshire branch in 1973 - a post he held until 1981.

The miners went back to work when a pay deal was agreed. But another strike was called in 1974, when Edward Heath's Conservative government tried to introduce a pay freeze.

Mr Scargill was instrumental in organising the action that brought down Edward Heath's government. He was becoming a massive figure in the union movement, and was voted NUM president in 1981 with about 70% of the vote.

He was a vocal opponent of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government and was determined to use the union to oppose its policies.

But the 1984-1985 strike ended in a shattering defeat for the miners and a split in the NUM.

Afterwards, Mr Scargill was elected lifetime president of the NUM.

He contested the 1997 general election a year after establishing the SLP, achieving just over 5% of the vote in the Newport East seat.

But the party secured less than 1% nationally.

Speaker's seat

At the 2001 general election the SLP failed to come close to getting any of its 100-plus candidates elected.

It got its highest percentage share in any individual parliamentary constituency at the 2005 general election, gaining 14.2% of the votes cast in Glasgow North East.

Image caption Scargill claimed Thatcher's Tory government wanted to break the coalmining industry and the union

But that share may be explained by the absence of a candidate from any of the larger parties except the SNP.

It was the seat where Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons, was restanding, and there is a convention that the main parties do not stand against a sitting Speaker.

The SLP did not contest the 2004 European Elections, but fielded candidates for England, Scotland and Wales in the 2009 European elections, where it took 173,115 votes, or 1.1% of the national vote.

The party ran 23 candidates in the 2010 general election, who received a total of 7,196 votes, less than 0.1% of the vote. All of them lost their deposits.

The SLP says it wants to see a socialist Scotland "free of the clutches of the EU".

Its policies include full employment, a free NHS and education system, a house building programme and repealing anti-trade union laws.

The party will be standing candidates in all eight electoral regions in Scotland.

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