Thursday, October 05, 2006

Statement by Colin Fox on behalf of SSP

After accusing the SSP executive of fabricating minutes and orchestrating "the mother of all frame-ups", Tommy Sheridan is now accusing the party of colluding with News of the World and MI5 to produce a fake video confession.This is an absurd and fantastical allegation that will be treated with astonishment by most people in Scotland. In fact, the tape is clearly authentic and blows apart Tommy's preposterous allegations against his old party comrades. The tape establishes, from Tommy's own mouth, that our 11 comrades, who were forced under threat of imprisonment to give evidence to the Court of Session, told the truth.
Contrary to the latest chapter in Tommy Sheridan's science fiction novel, the SSP had no involvement in the production of this tape. George McNeilage is an SSP member, but holds no position within the party. He taped this conversation as a private individual and as a former close personal friend of Tommy Sheridan.
The SSP does not advocate or practise the secret taping of conversations. The SSP had no knowledge of or role in the production of this tape.We have sought to build a political movement based on mutual trust - though we also recognise, with the benefit of hindsight, that Tommy Sheridan has been prepared to trample all trust into the dirt for his own personal ends.
Nor is it true, as has been falsely claimed by supporters of Tommy Sheridan, that the SSP handed this tape over to News of the World. The SSP EC has never had possession of this tape; nor did the SSP have any involvement in passing the tape to the newspaper. Neither the SSP nor any of its office-bearers have received or will receive a single penny from News of the World or from any other media company - unlike Tommy Sheridan, who was recently paid £30,000 by the New Labour-supporting media corporation, Trinity Mirror, for denouncing his then comrades as "scabs", "liars", "rats" and "perjurers".
We believe that events are now rapidly approaching a conclusion that will have seriously damaging consequences for Tommy Sheridan and his breakaway political organisation, Solidarity, founded on the basis of a lie and fraud.History will judge Tommy Sheridan's libel action as one of the biggest political misjudgements of modern times and will vindicate the judgement of the 2004 SSP EC, who advised a different course of action.
With a perjury investigation now underway, we are confident that the good name of the SSP will be restored 100 per cent. We can now start to draw a line under the past and move forward, establishing new branches, recruiting new members and winning support by engaging in the many campaigns for social and economic justice emerging across Scotland.
We have in recent weeks renewed our commitment to the anti-war movement and to the rapidly developing struggle for Scottish independence.We will continue our campaign against nuclear power and nuclear weapons.
Our party was built and will grow further around the principle of showing practical solidarity to workers and communities in struggle. We believe that if the SSP continues to look outward and engage with working people in their day-to-day struggles we can quickly recover any ground we have lost as result of the calamitous actions of Tommy Sheridan.


FAS said...

Snowball said...

'History will judge Tommy Sheridan's libel action as one of the biggest political misjudgements of modern times'
- Colin Fox.

Has Colin Fox/the SSP lost the plot? (I am thinking of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan here). Or do Sheridan's 'calamitous actions' really rank alongside Blair's decision to take the Britain into a criminal war?

Anonymous said...

I normally have high regard for Andy Newman, but his recent article on this site (Sheriden's web of deceit) is truely terrible journalism.

The refutation at the Marxism mailing list is pretty fool proof by comparison.

maps said...

I can't comment on the details of the Sheridan case, as I live on the other side of the world and am less than familiar with the labyrinthine world of the Scottish left, but I did a couple of encounters with Colin Fox back in 2004, and there were not pleasant.

On a visit to New Zealand sponsored by the Alliance Party Fox crossed a picket line I was standing on to attend a function organised jointly by the a group of historians and the police. The event aimed to use new research into the 1913 General Strike, when police and volunteer 'specials' used massive violence to end a revolutionary situation, to help formulate better policing strategies for industrial disputes. A small number of trade unionists attended the conference, but others were outraged by it and organised a picket. If I remember rightly Fox needed a police escort to get in to the conference.

A couple of days later, at a meeting held for him in the Auckland Trades Hall, Fox was challenged about his attendance at the conference on 1913. He replied by calling the event 'fantastic'. Later that night he made strong criticisms of revolutionary Marxist politics, calling the notion of socialist revolution a 'fantasy' and ridiculing Trotsky, in particular.

Whatever faults Sheridan has, I would take Fox's talk of socialist principle with a few grains of salt.

AN said...

I will post a reply to the marxmail article shortly. It is a substantial argument, and one that deserves a considered reply.

It is however still wrong (politically) - I will say this though - if George McNeilage has in fact received money from the NOTW (and I have no knowledge one way or the other) as alledged in the marxmail article, then the SSP should expel McNeilage.

AN said...


From where i stand, saying that the idea of a socialsit revolution (in the way a revolution is conceived by many of the Leninist groups) is a fantasy is a legitimate point of view, and indeed a lragely defensible point of view.
I don't know what Fox is supposed to have said that "ridiculed "Trotsky, but "revolutionalry Marxist politics" as practised by many of Trotsky's proclaimed suporters today is a bit ridiculous.
I don't think that having held opnions contrary to the practice of "Revolutionary Marxist politics" means that you lack socialist principle.

Over the question of the conference, it seems (from your own account) this was an event organised by academics, and the picket was not a picket of workers involved in a trade dispute, but rather a protest by people who did not agree with the political basis of the conference.
It was therefore no more a labour movement "picket" than the protest last year outside the SWP's Bookmarks shop against the presence of Gilad Atzmon.
Whether or not we agree with the protests or not - I agreed with the protest at Bookmarks, and simply don't know enough about you conference - there is no question fo socilaist pronciple about not attending an event simply becasue some other socialists protest outside.
This is not "crossing a picket line"
Colin Fox is a sincere, principled and honest socialist.

noel said...

The SSP does not advocate or practise the secret taping of conversations. The SSP had no knowledge of or role in the production of this tape.We have sought to build a political movement based on mutual trust

oh really…well you could have fooled me! Andy as I thought you've proved your colours and shown that 'socialist unity' (sponsored by the NOTW perhaps?) is unable to see the bigger political issues behind the gossip, maybe a link up with weekly worker would be good for you as well as Murdoch's empire?

The SSP leadership have proved unable to work in other campaigns and have continually counterposed their own to broad movement based ones, as was clear for everyone to see during and in the run up to the g8 last year, one example I witnessed was where various robo-SSP'rs would get up and denounce people who've actually achieved something significant like the 'no' vote in France, because they aren't socialist enough etc etc…it is this behaviour that is behind the spilt not Tommy Sheridan's sex life which I and nobody else should give a toss about.

But then if you think the CPGB is a worthwhile organisation as you seem to, then your judgement is obviously wrong.

Why exactly was this tape that you presume is true made in the first place? What kind of organisation tapes it's own leaders to catch them out (if you think it's true which you do)? The making of the tape is wrong and cuts across all your lies about the SSP being 'open' and 'honest' *not* just the taking of cash for it by Neil the fact that you lose sight of such basic matters of principle says all we need to say about not uniting with your brand of socialism.

Darren said...

Noel wrote:
"The SSP leadership have proved unable to work in other campaigns and have continually counterposed their own to broad movement based ones, as was clear for everyone to see during and in the run up to the g8 last year, one example I witnessed was where various robo-SSP'rs would get up and denounce people"

Thanks for providing me with a belly laugh first thing in the morning. Real comical stuff. ;-)

Martin Wicks said...

Strange Noel, I can't see your profile? Why is it hidden?

Anybody who receives money from the NOTW has no place in a socialist organisation. Of course the same applies to somebody receiving money from the Daily Record doesn't it? Especially when they have sought to frame people in a court of law and open them to the threat of imprisonment for perjury.

I would say in relation to the SSP that you can't fight Dheridan with the disgusting methods of Sheridan.

So socialist unity is sponsored by the NOTW? Infantile nonsense.

Simon Hughes said...

Andy, McNeilage *did* take money from NotW, the editorial admits as much reading: "During Sheridan's successful defamation action much was made of newspapers paying sources for stories. In the case of the Sheridan tape such a transaction has occurred”

McNeilage hasn't denied this and the SSP leadership haven't so much as criticised him let alone threatened any disiplinary procedures for doing so.

The fact that the SSP leadership have taken such a position and the tape, which was allagedly filmed over two years ago, has come to light now in the shadiest of all circumstances makes a mockery of the claim in your article that the circumstances of how the tape ended up in Murdoch's hands "are just a side issue". Far from it , it goes right to heart of socialist morality.

Also, usually when the anti-working class scab press run a story "exposing" a leftist you would have thought that a socialist journalist would at least subject it to a bit of scrutany rather than take it as red. The fact that there was no such scrutany in your article backs up the argument in the MM article that some on the left are so motivated by anti-Sheridenism that they have forgotten about the bigger picture and lost their critical facilties in the proces.

Ofcourse this case is different in one fundamental aspect from previous cases like the miners, Tony Benn (described as mentally ill), George Galloway etc, becuase in this present case a section of the left has joined in the attack on a prominant leftist. However, given the disgraceful conduct of McNeilage and the SSP leadership (appearing in the NotW and the Sun demanding that TS resigns as an MSP because he brings "Scottish *politicians* into disrepute"), then I think their motives should be suject to critical scrutany aswell

noel said...

Darren, laugh all you want I was in the meeting and if there was ever a lesson in how to distance yourself from a mass movement there you had it, maybe you'd like to respond to the criticism by telling us how well the factions I'm discussing here worked as part of g8 alternatives? I also saw how various other people in the SSP acted, your youth organiser behaving particularly appallingly on the day of the actual demo when we were held in central Edinburgh. That's the youth wing that burns effigies of Tommy at their gatherings - no?

Martin I realise people on this site like intrigue and gossip but my not having a profile is because I don't have a blog but do have a blogger account, I could of course sign in anonymously but then that really would send you into overdrive wouldn't it?

noel said...

…and no Martin taking money from papers or any other media outlet to spread our ideas I have no problem with, otherwise you better tell Paul Foot, John Pilger and everyone else to pack up now, though I know you'd probably prefer us all to stay in the ghetto so maybe that's why you can't see the fundamental difference - taking money from papers to help smear a fellow socialist is obviously wrong, I mean for chrissakes this is ABC stuff isn't it?!

AN said...


I think what Martin was referring to was Sherriden taking £20k or £30k from the Daily Record to call Fox, Leckie and Kane scabs.
I don't recall Foot or pilger doig likewise.

With regard to the effigy burning, it is simply media bollocks. My understanding is that the incident basically never happened - I wasn't there (too old, too English!)there was a bonfire, a box with a face was thrown on the fire and someone said there goes Tommy. There were a couple of young SWP members there at the time as well, who were joining in the fun, remember these are very young comrades.

No one is exactlly saying that g8 was the SSP's finest hour - but it does ot justify a split. that sort of thing can be resolved by debate within an organisation.

After all the SWP in Scotland were a pile of shit during the poll tax, but no one suggested they should all be expelled. What was it Cliff said at the time: "People tell me there is no RCP in Scotland, bloody rubbish, in Scotland the RCP are called the SWP" (for younger readers the RCP were a particularly right wing sect opposed to participation in real campaigns) Inded even in England the SWP was slow to get off the mark and originally had the worng line on the poll tax, but we turned it around - there was no reason to start a new organisation just cos people made errors.

Liz said...

A question for you Andy - if the SSP are 'serious socialists' as you keep claiming then why don't they discipline the man who taped the alleged conversation (supposing the tape is genuine?) Why instead are they making political capital out of it? What kind of man secretly films the conversation he had with a so called friend for the purpose of later using it against him if the situation arises.

The fact that Sheridan was paid by the Daily Record does not make what the opposing camp did ok.

Liz said...

I also looked at your earlier article, Andy. How can you describe the issues as to whether the tape is genuine, or how it ended up in NOTW as being side shows?

What McNeilage did was surely unforgivable, whether it was genuine or not. As I said, the failure of the SSP leadership to discipline him doesn't look good for them.

As to it being genuine there are a couple of points that stop me from simply taking it to be so. One, why was it only produced recently? Secondly, a few things said on there sound slightly contrived (Sheridan purportedly mentioning the then lack of evidence in the way of tapes etc).

The man who composed the tape knew Sheridan well by all accounts - so it would not have been impossible for him to forge a tape which sounded authentic (with the help of others). I don't see asking these questions as being in any way a 'sideshow' - if the tape is a forgery then the whole case collapses.

AN said...

I think they should discipline him for seling the story - but if you check their constituion it is not clear what offence he has committed under it, so perhaps they cannot.

They have in fact politically distsnced themselves from the tape.

Why did he tape the converstaion, You qould have to ask him - it shows what Sheridan's closest friends think of him. Anyway, had the taping been part of an overall conspiricy, then the "conspirators" would surely have used it before now. the fact it has only just come up suggests that this is unconnected with the SSop leadership.

No one is suggesting that it was right to seel the tape - but it is hardly making capital out of something to point out that information newly in the public dmain further vindicates your own version of events.

AN said...


the reason it is a side show, is that for all the bluff and bluster from Jo Bustelo on Marxmail, the argumetns about whetehr or not the tape is true are a distraction from the real issue about why Sheridan pursued the case against the best intersts of the party, and the slightly different issue of why the SWP in particular lied for him.

these are the political issues which need to be deabted. I will reply to Bustelo at length, but suffice it to say that his contribution ahs further muddied and obfuscated the issues.

And when you say: "if the tape is a forgery then the whole case collapses."

No becasue we still have the fact that 11 EC witnesses told the truth and 4 Sheridan witnesses lied.

The fact that the tape has only just come out now is probably becasue it was done by one individual, unconnected with the leadership of the SSP, and he only decided to do something with it once the remarkable verdict and Sheridan's appalling post-trial hubris happened.