INDEPENDENCE supporters in California will hold a series of conference calls this weekend, as they move to build a new “progressive” left-of-centre political party to challenge the Democrats.

The California National Party (CNP) is building up its membership in preparation for a referendum on secession from the United States, with the immediate priorities of ending subsidies to the rest of the US and putting the money to work in the state itself.

Supporters believe that California – one of America’s richest states – should be investing in better transit systems and water infrastructure, instead of corn subsidies to the mid-west: issues they say are not being addressed by national parties.

However, their long-term goal is independence for California, and they believe that it is “big enough and strong enough to succeed as an independent nation”.

Among its goals, the CNP states: “That process must be peaceful and democratic and we see the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence from the UK and the 2016 referendum on UK independence from the EU as solid international precedents.”

Jed Wheeler, CNP general secretary, told The National: “Our current strategy is to build a new progressive political party that can challenge the Democrats from the left.

“To support that effort, we have developed a fairly comprehensive platform that goes far beyond just independence – it includes universal health care, proposals for a housing-first policy to end homelessness, immigration reforms, comprehensive education reforms and a detailed plan to grow the Californian economy.

“This isn’t just fluff – as an example, our plan to establish a national Californian credit union would save the state billions. A $9 billion (£7.29bn) bond passed by the voters to fund education will end up costing the state more than twice that because it is currently set to be financed by a private bank. A Californian credit union could finance bonds at cost plus operating fees.

“Other proposals include investments in freeways, public transit, our water infrastructure, renewable energy and more – all easily affordable if California eliminates waste and refuses to continue spending billions subsidising the red states.

“We believe these proposals are mainstream and will find broad support.”

Wheeler said the CNP was also working with a number of new organisations to draft the text of an independence referendum question, so signatures can be gathered over the next several months for a ballot initiative which allows citizens to put new legislation to a popular vote.

Since Donald Trump became president-elect, Wheeler said thousands of supporters had registered their interest and the movement was growing very fast, with thousands of dollars in donations in the last week and five new chapters established.

He said: “As to our current membership, it’s growing by the hour – we even have the core of a new chapter in Orange County [a Republican stronghold].

“We’ve added literally thousands of supporters in the last two weeks and today alone, our mailing list added more than over a hundred people. We’re organising two major kick-off calls for this weekend, because there were too many people for our conference calling system to have on a single call, and have had over 100 people RSVP.

“That’s people who want to volunteer to organise, not just passive supporters.”

He added: “We will also be organising canvassing efforts to drive voter registrations – we need 50,000 of them to get on the ballot – recruiting candidates and, of course, working to get signatures for the referendum.”