GAELIC activists are considering setting up a political party to promote the interests of the language in the Scottish parliament. A series of meetings will be held throughout Scotland over the autumn to determine whether there is support for establishing a Gaelic Party of Scotland. The driving-force behind the formation of the new organisation, Finlay MacLeod -- the founder of the CNSA Gaelic playgroups association -- claimed yesterday that none of the main political parties adequately represented the Gaelic cause. He said: "Over the last 20 years we have tried to work with all the various political parties, but we're into a new phase with the coming of the Scottish assembly. We have no difficulty with the other political parties saying that they support Gaelic but Gaelic must be raised to a new level in Scottish politics. In some ways we are testing the water and we're trying to find out whether there is sufficient support but the clear expectation is that a party will be set up."
Mr MacLeod maintained that the new party would stand throughout Scotland, unlike the proposed Highland Alliance party which will only stand in that region. Both new parties believe they could benefit from the proportional voting system, though last night the new movement was met with scepticism from other political parties.
The Scottish Office minister for Gaelic, Calum MacDonald, said that in a democracy anyone was entitled to form a political party but he strongly defended the Labour Government's support for Gaelic. He said: "Scottish new Labour is the party for the whole of Scotland and we will campaign for every vote in every part of Scotland."
The Scottish National Party's spokeswoman for Gaelic, Anne Lorne Gillies, said she was surprised by Mr MacLeod's move as she had been asked to step down as patron of CNSA after becoming more active in the SNP. She said: "We do not see Gaelic as some ghettoised part of Scotland. It is part of mainstream national politics and the Gaelic community can always come to the SNP to put their point of view and we will listen."
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