The fall of Tommy Sheridan - cross post
THAT Tommy Sheridan was the most charismatic and gifted revolutionary socialist politician of recent decades is beyond serious dispute, and I always used to admire him for that. I still do, I suppose.
In a period where leftwing ideas failed to find a widespread hearing, he alone proved capable of building a substantial electoral base for basic class struggle ideas. Without him, the Scottish Socialist Party would not have achieved the measure of success it did achieve, and the credit for this can never be taken away from him.
That he used the fame that inevitably ensued to his personal sexual advantage is not an issue that should be of pressing concern to anyone other than himself and those with whom he slept. No one should cast judgement on the consensual relationships or others, be they gay, straight, marital, adulterous, based on auto-erotic asphyxiation, or participated in by however many can squeeze into a bed in a cheap hotel room.
At the time the News of the World published details of his visits to a swingers’ club in Manchester, Sheridan had sufficient popularity North of the Border to take exactly that stance. A dignified ‘no comment’ or a rigid ‘none of your business’ line, and he would have rode out the publicity, in much the same way as any other married politician caught playing away by the red tops.
There are enough broadminded adults out there to ensure that nookie with someone other than the missus is not the automatic end of a political career, as figures from Shagger Norris to Paddy Pantsdown can testify.
I cannot imagine what drove Sheridan to sue for libel instead. In a country where religious feelings are more widespread than in England, perhaps he felt that the revelations were electorally damaging. Perhaps he saw a one-off opportunity to make some serious cash. One day his memoirs will presumably tell us.
But what was inadmissible right from the start was his expectation that his comrades were somehow duty bound to stand up in the dock and commit the criminal offence of perjury in his support.
Sheridan’s supporters have argued all along that it is the elementary responsibility of socialists to defend other socialists against the Murdoch press, at all times and in all circumstances, and at any degree of jeopardy. The reality is that everything depends on the political issues at stake. Where there is sufficient cause for such a risk, then the correct course would naturally be to take it.
But unlike, say, John Maclean or the leadership of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1926, Sheridan was not before the court on charges of sedition. Unlike Jock Haston, Roy Tearse, Heaton Lee and Ann Keen, he did not stand in front of a jury for his support for unofficial industrial action. Unlike Ricky Tomlinson, Des Warren or the Pentonville Five, the issue at hand was not his conduct on the picket line.
Sheridan’s conviction today flows entirely from his insane determination to lie about his inability to keep it in his trousers. As a result, he has destroyed everything he spent the first half of his life building up, just at a time when a party premised on militant opposition to coalition austerity could truly have hit the big time. However sorry one has to feel for the family, the biggest tragedy about what has happened is the setback this represents for the far left as a whole.
Agree wholeheartedly . I also want to send my support to all the SSP comrades who were put in a terrible position because of the ego and stupidity of Sheridan in pursuing this .
Another post to check out is this one , from Scottish Socialist Youth.