Tommy’s Troubles

First Edwin Morgan, then Jimmy Reid, now Tommy Sheridan. Scotland has lost three very different radical leaders in one year alone. And no, the potential arrival of George Galloway won’t help. Replacing the Satsuma Cicero (copyright Lallands Peat Worrier) with another tanned egoist will do nothing to further cause of a socialist Scotland.

But as the News of the World gloats and Andy Coulson winks there is very little cheer to be had from Tommy Sheridan’s downfall. The only positive is that the long-drawn out saga is now over and the left in Scotland can move forward. Sheridan’s troubles were the result of a series of appallingly poor judgements leaving an opportunity for the British state and the Murdoch press to smear and destroy. The Scottish Socialist Party issued a statement saying:

“By his actions over six years, Tommy Sheridan has disgraced himself and negated his political contribution to the socialist cause over 25 years. History will now record that he did more harm to the socialist cause in Scotland than any good he ever did it.”

That assessment is too harsh. As Gregor Gall points out as leader of the SSP Sheridan led them to become “by far the most successful socialist party in the British postwar period”. If the limitations of leadership by charisma and the cult of personality were to be found out – there is no point in arguing that there isn’t need for leadership and inspiration in politics. Sheridan’s leadership of the Poll Tax Movement should not be forgotten, and history should not be allowed to be recorded by Bob Bird. Six in a parliament should be remembered over four in a bed. Telling truth to power should be remembered over telling lies in court.

Solidarity will now surely cease to exist or slowly slide into (further) obscurity. The SSP had and has some fine policies which many in the Scottish Green Party and the SNP and across the country would agree with including:

  • Free school meals
  • A decent income for pensioners
  • Well insulated low carbon homes
  • A rejection of Trident and all WMD
  • A new policy for refugees where people are welcomed and given the right to work and make a new life here
  • Sustainable and nationalised energy
  • Fare-free and publicly-owned train, bus and ferry services

The SSP have a clear policy on independendence, and unlike the Scottish Green Party campaign on the issue. They describe themesleves as: ” an anti-capitalist, pro-independence party, with a vision of socialism that is geared to the future rather than rooted in the past.”

What’s needed now though is not just good policies but good leadership from all progressive forces in Scotland.

As Roz Paterson passionately writes: “We are calling time on a Union that drags us into illegal, immoral wars, from Flanders fields to Iraq and Afghanistan. On a Union that ignores the call for nuclear disarmament and instead dumps its world-shattering arsenal within miles of our biggest city.
On a Union that opens up a democrat ic deficit of such proportions that, no matter who we vote for,we always get the choice of Middle England.”

The time for raking over one individuals life is thankfully over and the new task is to work out how the future looks for the left in Scotland – where energy can go and where alliances can be made. 2011 should be the year when the agenda is reclaimed by those more interested in the opening future than the inglorious past.

Comments (16)

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  1. Good post although I disagree that the SSP comment is too harsh. I hope that the left can now start to build towards May and offen an alternative to the Con-Dem-Lab cuts.

  2. Peter Curran says:

    I have said most of what I want to say on my blog. This was a political trial – a smokescreen for the infinitely more important threat to democracy posed by the Murdoch Empire.

    The police interrogation of Gail Sheridan, seen on tapes of interviews apparently released to the BBC for last night’s documentary on the case, was a shameful episode. Anyone watching this vulnerable woman, trying to act of the advice of her lawyer to exercise her legal rights not to answer questions, being virtually accused of being trained in terrorist techniques shows the whole affair for what it was – a political witch hunt and smokescreen for the News of the World, Andy Coulson and the ConLib Government

  3. lenathehyena says:

    The splits and divisions of the Left in Scotland are nothing new. Neither is the vitriol and shameful behaviour of previous comrades towards one another. The SSP has taken a well-trodden path of turning in on itself rather than keeping the focus on their natural enemies and incredibly pocketing traitors’ gold from the Murdoch empire. The far Left appears destined to fall through its own self-destructive tendencies. One can hardly see any future for the remaining SSP led by donkeys and asses and recent events have revealed several of their better known faces to be simple souls who probably deserve public sympathy but not support at the ballot box.

  4. Observer says:

    You can dislike Tommy Sheridan’s undoubted ego, but still be repelled at what has happened to him, & the role that his former party colleagues have played.

    I am quite astonished that so called socialists have gone along with it. Sheridan was wrong, wrong, & wrong again to sue the News of the World when he didn’t have a sound footing. However that stupidity does not & will never excuse those witnesses who turned up & gave evidence against him. They didn’t need to lie in his favour, but neither did they need to grass him up.

    The prosecution of Tommy Sheridan is unprecedented in this country, a criminal case being brought as a consequence of a civil case, before the outcome of the civil case was known as the News of the World had lodged an appeal. That appeal will now go ahead & bankrupt Sheridan. He is being ruined by a mighty global capitalist conglomerate. You can say it was his fault – but you didn’t need to help.

    Socialists actually need to realise that there is a class war, it is not just a phrase. Sheridan, as stupid as he is, should not have been sold out by fellow socialists. Ethical dilemas are for those who can afford them, the option which was open to the other members of the SSP was to say nothing, to not get involved. Obviously Sheridan, flawed as he is, thought that was bloody obvious.

    The gusto with which the SSP has welcomed the future imprisonment of Sheridan is repulsive, they have been all over the press like a rash.

    They are just as bad as Sheridan, in fact they are worse. They are all tainted with this & if they had any decency they would retire & leave the field to grown ups who understand that politics isn’t personal & you don’t need to play by Rupert Murdoch’s rules.

  5. Liam says:

    “However that stupidity does not & will never excuse those witnesses who turned up & gave evidence against him. They didn’t need to lie in his favour, but neither did they need to grass him up.”

    Witnesses that were cited in both trials had no option about whether to appear in court or not.

  6. ‘They didn’t need to lie on his favour’

    Yet you say nothing against those who, it would appear, did. The only person who had a choice about whether to go to court or not was Tommy Sheridan.

    ”The gusto with which the SSP has welcomed the future imprisonment of Sheridan is repulsive, they have been all over the press like a rash.’

    Just like Sheridan was all over the press when he lied to win his Libel action. I have seen people say they are glad it’s over and they have been shown to have been telling the truth, however, the main people involved I’ve seen on TV all said they didn’t want punitive action taken. Perhaps you can point me to this rash of press coverage which proves your point, that people are calling for the improsonment of Sheridan.

  7. Observer says:

    Of course they didn’t have an option whether to appear in court or not – however they had an option over what they decided to say. They could have been non- committal.

    In relation to the coverage – play the i player & listen to what was all over the airwaves as well as the press.

    We (& they) all know that Sheridan is going to jail & we can take a pretty good guess that the NOW will ask for costs as part of their appeal – that will as I have said bankrupt him.

    The writer of this article appears to think that this case is over – I don’t think it is, as we have the small matter of stripping Sheridan of everything he owns to watch, as well as the SSP members who spoke against him probably doing so again in the process as the NOW appeals.

    Both sides lost here, not just Sheridan. None of them can walk away from this with their heads held high, Sheridan is getting all the blame here but that is really too easy an answer.

    He will pay the price for his folly in a way which is wholly disproportionate to the offence, because the News of the World can now nail him to the wall with the help of people who state they are socialists.

    I doubt that many people will vote for folk that did that. They should let other people have a chance now – all of them are tainted.

  8. ‘They could have been non- committal.’

    Being non-committal would probably have led to contempt charges. Why should people, forced to be in court, risk that?

    ‘play the i player & listen to what was all over the airwaves as well as the press’

    You made a statement that a rash of people were calling for him to be jailed, it’s not up to me to go looking for articles to back up spurious claims made by you, post links or retract your statement. btw, I saw a story today where another leading SSP member stated the exact opposite.

    ‘the NOW will ask for costs as part of their appeal – that will as I have said bankrupt him’

    He should have thought about that before telling lies in court.

    ‘He will pay the price for his folly in a way which is wholly disproportionate to the offence’

    He won’t, perjury is a major deal to the courts and he’s the one that handed the NotW the opportunity to get costs.

    ‘I doubt that many people will vote for folk that did that. They should let other people have a chance now – all of them are tainted’

    I disagree, I rejoined the SSP shortly before the trial began, I am sure others have/will as well, however, I’ll let the ballot box will be the judge of that.

  9. Doonhamer says:

    Sure, Tommy was innocent. Sure, sure. When are you guys going to grow up? Tommy was a demagogue, a mouth and a hypocrite like all the great leaders – Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Robespierre. And your little list of all the wonderful things the SSP, Greens and SNP would deliver. One small question. How is it all to be paid for? All that free travel etc. Everything free. Alice in Wonderland economics. Scotland as Cuba but colder. And Cuba is doing so well.

    1. Tocasaid says:

      How will it be paid for? Probably from the same purse that so generously provides for foreign wars, nuclear power, various WMDs and their carriers, the Royal family, the interest on Britain’s massive debt….

      Tommy may have had a huge ego and may or may not have ‘got a lumber’ outwith marriage. Who cares though? And is Rupert Murdoch and his seedy papers now the benchmark for morality?

      It could be corrupt or horny MPs but also it could be ordinary folk. Mind the Sun’s handling of the those dead Liverpool fans? Lovely stuff.

  10. lenathehyena says:

    Doonhammer

    Calm down. Your comparison between Tommy Sheridan and Hitler et al is moronic.

    Is Sheridan the leader of a nation? No.
    Is Sheridan a mass murderer? No.
    Is Sheridan head of a totalitarian state? No.
    Is Sheridan a dictator? No.
    Is Sheridan the creator of a system of widespread terror in Scotland? No. Is Sheridan in control of the media therefore swamping the country with propaganda? No.
    Is Sheridan in charge of the military, the economy, the state’s social networks? No.
    Is Sheridan responsible for the extermination of a specified group of people? No.
    Is Sheridan overseer of mass covert and overt surveillance? No.

    When you do not understand the implications of what you write it is best to write nothing at all. While it is true that everyone is entitled to their opinions when they are simply opinion based on nothing but spluttering resentment or prejudice then it hardly seems worth the bother as the author is seen as a fool.

  11. Observer says:

    ”The time for raking over one individuals life is thankfully over and the new task is to work out how the future looks for the left in Scotland”

    No it isn’t, this is the point that Dougie Kinnear & the writer of the article seems to miss. The issue isn’t ended we have Sheridan’s appeal & the NOW’s appeal to go through, in both cases the SSP will be allied whether they like it or not with Murdoch.

    ”Being non-committal would probably have led to contempt charges”

    Being non committal would have ensured they weren’t cited for court in the first place.

    ”it’s not up to me to go looking for articles to back up spurious claims made by you”

    I haven’t made any spurious claims – the SSP welcomed the verdict anyone who has read the papers or listened to the radio knows that for a fact.

    ”He won’t, perjury is a major deal to the courts and he’s the one that handed the NotW the opportunity to get costs.”

    Perjury is quite clearly not a major deal to the courts, as hardly anyone is ever tried for perjury even in very serious cases of murder, rape, child abuse etc.

    You can let the ballot box decide but if I was in your shoes I would be putting up some fresh faces for the SSP because the ones you’ve got are tainted.

  12. And now we see a classic ‘change what I said so it appears I’m right’ move from Observer.

    ‘I haven’t made any spurious claims – the SSP welcomed the verdict anyone who has read the papers or listened to the radio knows that for a fact”

    Yes, people who have been called liars, and worse, for years by Sheridan welcomed the verdict. Wouldn’t you? But, that isn’t what you said in your original post.

    You said ‘The gusto with which the SSP has welcomed the future imprisonment of Sheridan is repulsive, they have been all over the press like a rash’

    And I asked you to show me where SSP people were all over the press like a rash calling for his imprisonment. You can’t, so, your claims are spurious. I presume you’ll now be retracting your statement.

    ‘Being non committal would have ensured they weren’t cited for court in the first place’

    Rubbish, they were cited because Sheridan started a court action. No other person was responsible for that.

    ‘Perjury is quite clearly not a major deal to the courts, as hardly anyone is ever tried for perjury even in very serious cases of murder, rape, child abuse etc.’

    Oh, it’s a big deal alright. When you are called to court you are expected to tell the truth, if you don’t then the justice system fails. When Sheridan won in 2006 it was clear to the Judge, by the conflicting evidence, that one or more people were telling lies, the rest is history.

    ‘I would be putting up some fresh faces for the SSP because the ones you’ve got are tainted’

    That’s your opinion, although I don’t put any faith in it. Like I said, I’ll let the ballot box do the talking.

  13. lenathehyena says:

    Perjury is committed in courts every day. Everyone who has pleaded not guilty and been found guilty is guilty of perjury as well as the crime yet they do not have time for perjury added to a sentence. What about witnesses for the defence when someone is found guilty. Should all those witnesses be tried for perjury? And if the defendant is found not guilty should the witnesses for the prosecution not then be tried on charges of perjury?

    Perjury is unusual and Sheridan has been tried because he was seen to benefit from the NotW court case. The Murdoch press were never going to lie down on this one and Sheridan should have known that. Equally the enormous cost to the public purse to take this case to court means it has not been in the public interest. It is clearly a case of political and personal persecution.

    As for the SSP getting new candidates – having already taken their current bunch from The Beano in the form of The Bash Street Kids perhaps you should try the Dandy and The Banana Bunch. I cannot say good luck as I’d be perjuring myself and now one never knows what could happen given the cosy relationship the SSP has with its Murdoch press pals.

  14. Hamish Scott says:

    The difference between Tommy Sheridan’s perjury and that of witnesses and accused generally is that he benefitted substantially financially from it – £200,000 I believe. Getting that money was tantamount to a £200,000 robbery.

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