Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tommy Sheridan - the great helmsman



One of the most excruciating but hilarious TV comedies of recent years was Marion and Geoff where mini-cab driver Keith Barrett (played brillinatly by Rob Brydon) gave monologues to a camera as he drove. ( I found a clip of Marion and Geoff on You Tube

The humour was very dark, based upon the depth of Keith's self delusion, as he resolutely interpreted devastating hammer blows to his personal life in a positive and cheery manner. He rationalises his attitude to glib salesman Geoff who now lives with his ex-wife Marion by saying: "I don't feel like I lost a wife, more like I gained a friend". Meanwhile Keith becomes homeless, and Marion and Geoff turn his children against him.

One wonders therefore whether Peter Mullan ( My name is Joe ) was taking the piss when he suggested that Solidarity's party political broadcast should follow the same format as Marion and Geoff.

Again the humour is very dark, based upon the depth of Sheridan's self delusion, as he resolutely ignores the utter destruction of his personal political reputation and integrity, and literally rants to the camera for five very long minutes. I wasn't sure whether Tommy was supposed to be portraying a cab driver or a kerb crawler. I literally laughed out loud, mainly out of embarassment.

Watch Solidarity's broadcast here.

In contrast, the Scottish Socialist Party's first election broadcast was witty, informative and Stylistically innovative. Watch the SSP's broadcast here.

As Colin Fox said at the time, Tommy Sheridan starting a rival socialist party in Scotland was like two bald men fighting over a comb, but it is clear that the SSP took all the talent, cheek and style, and Solidarity were left with the ego of a bright orange balloon.

STOP PRESS: The SSP's second broadcast is just as good. Watch it here.

24 comments:

Ken said...

I'm afraid I have to agree. Absolutely fucking toe-curling to watch. And who knew that Tommy drives with one hand on the gear-stick like a boy racer?

The SSP's second broadcast -socialism for desperate housewives - is just as witty as the first. My one complaint is that it doesn't mention the war.

AN said...

Are you in the SSP Ken?

I know you were in the CP previoulsy, what about now?

Korakious said...

You know, the problem with Solidarity is the very idea it was founded on. That Tommy Sheridan was some sort of great asset and that therefore he should form the foundation of our politics.

Consequently, Solidarity is now little more than a personality cult. Every single Solidarity poster/placard I've seen has his name on it with bold letters. In their manifesto the word "Tommy" appears more times than "party". Yesterday's public meeting with Gorgeous George was all about how the two great men (always men of course) were blood brothers and working class heroes, with a little bit of anti war rhetoric thrown in for good measure.

It is then no big surprise that their broadcast would also be all about Shhhhholidarity - Tommy Sheridan.

I really wonder what was in the mind of the SWP perpetual leadership when they advises Pat Smith and Mike Gonzo to lie for the Tangerine Man in court.

AN said...

It is a very good question Korakious, and as I have argued before a very dangerous one, as the conspiracy to commit perjury could literally open doors for a police investigation, putting at risk the liberty and reputations not only of Pat Smith (I am not sure Gonzales did lie in court, as his testmony was very careful and after all he wasn't at the crucial meeting) but also which ever other comrades participated in the decision.

Ken said...

Andy - I'm not in the SSP (or any other party). I'm not even sure I'll vote for them. In comments on the post on the radical left you mentioned the CPB's position re independence - well I agree with the CPB on that. It just seems daft to focus all one's efforts on our wee pretendy parliament. The CP's pamphlet 'Breaking the British State' makes a good case for a different strategy.

AN said...

I get the impression I am the only socialist in England to support scots independence.

I think the SSP may have been excessivly focussed on the parliament, but this is partly them being victims of their own success, the temptation towards passivity for the ordinary members when you have MSPs to do it for you, and alos the burden of supporting a proper parliamantary presecne on a very small base.

For me the questin of independecne is a pragmatic one. What circumstances will give the best opportunity for the influence of the left to grow, and I think the debate about what sort of Scotland emegres give that opportunity.

Korakious said...

We should keep in mind that what sort of Scotland emerges is entirely up to how much we can mobilize support for socialism and give people a good reason to actively involve themselves .

Left nationalists seem to think that an independent Scotland will automatically be a lot better than the UK while left unionists argue that an independent Scotland will be inherently reactionary and anti working class.

Both approaches leave no room for working class agency.

"

I think the SSP may have been excessivly focussed on the parliament, but this is partly them being victims of their own success, the temptation towards passivity for the ordinary members when you have MSPs to do it for you, and alos the burden of supporting a proper parliamantary presecne on a very small base."

That is very true. Gregor Gall wrote an article making a similar argument in the previous issue of Frontline.

I was not a member of the party back then, but it seems to me that the largely unexpected success of 2003 demobilized much of the membership. I hope that we have learned our lesson and will now start promoting the idea that Holyrood is only one of the many battlefields more actively.

AN said...

I hope that we have learned our lesson and will now start promoting the idea that Holyrood is only one of the many battlefields more actively.

You may have no choice after next Thursday ;o(

Korakious said...

Well, whatever happens next week, we did our best. Given the events of last summer, the fact that we managed to pull this campaign off is honestly much more than I expected back then. I am very confident about the election, but even if we get wiped out, we will recover because our politics are in the right place and because our conviction is there.

I'm sorry to sound as a party hack, it isn't really my style, but right now, I am really proud to be an SSP "apparatchik" as gorgeous George called us back in May, when we had the nerve to stand up to the Tangerine Man.

Phil said...

Andy: I get the impression I am the only socialist in England to support scots independence.

Not quite!

Korakious: Left nationalists seem to think that an independent Scotland will automatically be a lot better than the UK while left unionists argue that an independent Scotland will be inherently reactionary and anti working class.
Both approaches leave no room for working class agency.


That's a really good point, which all left nationalists (myself included) should read, mark, learn and inwardly digest.

Jenny said...

Hi,
despite all the lies and smears Solidarity is not made up of sycophants for Sheridan. It's made up mostly of ex-SSP members who felt that 11 members of the SSP EC going into court for the Murdoch press was not "standing up" to anything but instead made them quislings.

Sheridan is still a popular figure in Scotland. Personnaly I canna stand Galloway but the meeting of the two together had 600 people at it. Name me one similar meeting in the Scottish election campaign which has got as many people along to hear the arguments for socialism or any other ideology for that matter.

I think it's clear that Solidarity has lost the internet battle. As far as bloggers and UKLN members are concerned in England we should have stayed in the SSP. I guess we should have posted more and made more points at the time of the court case as well as at the time of the split about what was really going on in Scotland. Many aspects of the life and culture inside the SSP were never publically reported. There was widespread bullying and a very definite leadership clique which you were either in, or despised by. There was no real middle ground. By bullying I mean that if you politically disagreed with someone from the leadership clique on any issue they deemed major (independence, the 50:50 rule, the greatness of McCombes, etc.) then they would take it personnaly. They would blank you at socials, in corridors, etc. They would twist your arguments and instead of debating them demand to know why you personnaly were so wrong. The place where this occured the worst was the women's network where Caroline Leckie honed it to a fine and viscious art. (Aspects of this can be seen in her bug eyed performances on TV during this election campaign.) Ironically it was the women's network that was then held up by Leckie and others as one of the finest achievements of the SSP. I know more than one female SSP member who went to a women's network conference once and decided never to go again because of the hostility from Leckie and others they had generated by simply disagreeing with them.

Democratically, we voted to support Sheridan against the NOTW inside the SSP and the SSP leadership went against this releasing a press release condemning the victory by Sheridan. The onyl one who didn't go along with this was, to his credit, Colin Fox who praised the victory over NOTW and said other socialists should have as well.

When the split occured many of us jumped at the chance to leave the bullyuing leadership clique behind and start something new. Since then the same clique has attacked us time and again as being Sheridan fanatics, non-socialists, and so on. But it's easier to take outside the party than from the bullying within it.

Sorry, i didn't mean to type all that but the post triggered something inside.

Louisefeminista said...

Jenny: I hear what you are saying but Sheridan's behaviour in court was far far from exemplary. Actually, it was downright appalling especially his cross-examining of women.

Sorry, but I expect far better behaviour from someone who describes themselves as a committed socialist in the public eye.

You don't behave in a crass and utterly oppressive way such as using language to describe women witnesses as "witches", "gold diggers", "promiscous", "fantasist" and "mentally ill".

This to me really exposed Sheridan's own views on women along with his view on the SSP turning into a "gender obsessed party".

It is not how a socialist should behave and that is a betrayal to the class.

AN said...

I am sure that there are individual members of Solidarity who are genuine, but it is a bit rich to talk about “lies and smears” against Solidarity when the whole problem was created by Sheridan initiating a court case based upon a lie for his own personal interest, and he was prepared to drag the SSP through the mud to do so, and make appalling personal attacks on for example Katrina Trolle.

Even if everything you said about the SSP was true, that would still not be adequate reason to split the party. What you have now is two competing socialist parties with almost exactly the same programme! Except one of them is built around a leader who perjured himself – opening the door to police investigation to the whole party.

The party democratically decided that witnesses called tell the truth. None of the 11 witnesses entered the court voluntarily, they were summonsed by the NOTW, and told the truth. The fault for which lay with Sheridan who could at any time have dropped the action before it came to court.

AN said...

And Jenny., one more thing.

I find it a bit outrageous to describe a fellow socialist as a Quisling.

Quisling was a facsist who collaborated with a nazi take over of his country, that resulted in the murder of thousands of Jews, socialists, gays and trade unionists.

Korakious said...

Peter Mullan said that testifying "for" the NOTW was equivalent to giving Jews away to Nazis.

I will not reply to the above post as I donot like starting flamewars in other people's blogs.

AN said...

If anyine s curious about the strong feelings about Sheridan, then click on the Sheridan theme label and read through the earlier posts on this blog

Lynsey said...

I don't want to start a flame war either, but I will pick up one point. The SSP did not "democratically" vote to support TS in a court case. The motion called for "full political support" for Tommy (it was never clarified what that meant) and the vote was pushed through without debate at a National Council where Carolyn Leckie and Frances Curran (and various other comrades, including myself) had been heckled as things like "scum" and "lying fucking bitch."

Nice. And sooooo democratic.

Jenny said...

Hi,
a few points to some of the reactions to my post.

Louisefeminista said...
"You don't behave in a crass and utterly oppressive way such as using language to describe women witnesses as "witches", "gold diggers", "promiscous", "fantasist" and "mentally ill". "

Hi Louisefeminista,
thanks for the reply. I would like to say that not all the names you use were used in court and various ones have a better reason for using them than you seem to imply. For example; "witches" was used in a meeting before the court case as part of a speech when he compared some of the SSP members to the three witches of Macbeth. An obvious literay comparison given the Scottish setting of the play and the attempts by certain leading SSP members to be 'kingmakers' in a similar way. Such literary comparisons are common in speeches and Sheridan didn't call for them to be burnt or make other references to witchcraft although this particular quote has gone into 'left urban legends' land.

As for "gold diggers", 2 of the witnesses at the Sheridan trial admitted to shopping around to for the highest price beofre selling their story to the tabloids. What else would you call them? Why is the fact they're women anough to give them free range on this?

And much though I hate to have to point this out the women called "mentally ill" does have various mental helath issues. Maybe Sheridan should have used more PC language.

"This to me really exposed Sheridan's own views on women along with his view on the SSP turning into a "gender obsessed party". "
Not really. I agreed with Sheridan on the "gender obsessed party" bit. In the SSP candidtes for election or conference were, due to the 50:50 rule, not judged on ability or even class, but on what their bilogical genitalia were. Myself and other women disagreed with this and when we did we were bullied in the way mentioned above. One woman got up at conference and said that 50:50 meant that she had to stand in the elections as she was the only woman in her branch if they wanted to stand other candidates as well and that she couldn't guarrantee to this as she had young children etc. Carloine Leckie got up and demanded to know why she was incapable of recruiting capable women to her branch! Women's network meetings were open to non-SSP members yet were binding on the party and this often meant non-socialists turned up. Go for a cig at break or lunch and you could find yourself surrounded by women and making racist comments or slgagging off asylum seekers. They would then return to the meeting and vote and the rest of part were meant to follow the decisions made. (Also, no attempt was made to convince them of the need for socialism by the leadersip or recruit them to the party as long as they agreed with the leadership on women's issues.) The only critera for this was that they were women at the women's conference. In other words their gender overided their politics. So I can see why Sheridan would call it gender obsessed even if I would use differnet language.

Jenny said...

"None of the 11 witnesses entered the court voluntarily, they were summonsed by the NOTW, and told the truth. The fault for which lay with Sheridan who could at any time have dropped the action before it came to court. "

Hi,
this is another bit of popular folklore in the English left which has been develloped by the SSP.

The truth is that not a single SSP member would have to have gone into court had it not been for those who later went on to create the United Left. The reason SSP members were called was because of the notorious EC meeting in 2004 of which the minutes were kept secret from the membeship until it became useful for the leadership to use them against Sheridan. I wasn't there so can't say what was, or wasn't said and neither can anyone else on these boards. However what I do know is that shortly after the meeting a sworn legal affadavit (sorry about spelling) was given to a major Scottish newspaper claiming that Sheridan had confessed to the meeting about swingers clubs. In an NC meeting Catriona Grant said this was her but later, realising what this meant, claimed she was only joking about it.
In the run up to the court case the SSP press officer was asked about the minutes of the meeting and he said they not only existed but listed who was at the meeting and that Sheridan had 'confessed' to the meeting. It was this reply to a question which would never have been asked had it not been for the sworn affidavid of Grant which meant the minutes were called and the SSP EC member were called to go to court. The idea that the UL supporting press officer did this by mistake is fanciful.
A much more likely explanation is that the SSP leadership clique wrote the minutes which the membership were never allowed to see or verify for accuracy. They then leaked these to the press through Grant's affidavid in the hope Sheridan would back down. Went he didn't their loyal press officer said openly that said minutes existed and they folllowed the logic of their tactics and went into court to aid the Murdoch press. This pretty much ends the odd English idea that "None of the 11 witnesses entered the court voluntarily".

Jenny said...

Hi Lynsey,
My recollation of the NC you describe is very different.
There was plenty of very, very heated, though democratic, debate around the issue of the anti-Murdoch court case in both directions. It's also true that the SWP stamped their feet and clapped their hands manically in reply to pro-Sheridan speakers but the SWP are very excitiable and likely to do this anyway at most meetings.
But as for heckles, I remember a few from both sides due to the heated nature of the debate. Mostly along the lines of "not true!" or "lyer". There was nothing close to the swearing you describe.
The motion was passed within the democratic norms of an NC despite the difficult atmosphere and despite attempts by the leadership clique to end the session before a vote could be taken on the issue.

AN said...

Jenny.

My experience of debate on the English left is that most people supprted Sheridan's version of events.(the contributors to this blog being one exception, we have supported the SSP leadership since 9/11/04!)

It would seem strange if you version of events were true that Alan mcCombes would be prepared to go to prison to prevent the minutes being handed to the court?

The "sworn affadavit" legend has so much hair on it, that I think it howls at full moon. From what I can see the basis of this is that one Scottish paper claimed to know more than it did in a story that only rehashed stuff already in the public domain. Since when have you sever heard of a newspaper demanding a sworn affadavit from a source?And if this sworn affadavit existed then why did the NOTW not present it in court? You do yourself no service by rewarming and serving up old rubbish like that.

But you are missing the political point.

Was it right for the party to be expected to entertain a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice to protect the utterly false legend that Sheridan was a perfect familly man, not only holding the whole party hostage to that falling apart, but also reinforcing a disgraceful Victorian double standard, and contributing to oppressive social expectations on those who do not live that style of life (most of us!)

In contrast your verion of events requires a far fetched political conspiracy including some of Sheridan's oldest and closest friends and comrades.

With regard to the NC meeting you describe, as I recall the atmosphere had been created by the appalling behaviour of Sheridan in issuing an open letter to the bourgeois press attacking other comrades.

Anonymous said...

The SSP might have won the "internet battle" but they have lost everwhere else. The PCS leadership today called for a vote for Solidarity against New Labour. In campaigns across the country such as "Save Meadowbank" and the Simclar sit-in, Solidarity members are involved at the core, the few remaining members of the SSP are outside shouting and getting their pictures taken.

Convincing a few people who cant even vote in the election by repeating smears over and over wont save the SSP on Thursday.

Jenny is corect re the affidavit. The SSP leadership used the "minutes" to attempt to force sgeridan to drop the case. They put themselves at the heart of the case and their assertion that they were dragged in against their will is nonsense. They made the court case their business from day one and thought, wrongly, that they could complete their coup using the courts and police as some sort of independent arbirtrer of the left. They were wrong and will pay for it on Thursday.

I think Mullen and Mackays broadcast is excellent. It could be criticised for being too much Tommy but this is an election and polls show that Solidarity should maximise the power of Tommys respect across Scotland so it was a good decision.

The SSPs broadcasts are well made but I dont see the point. The second one is better than the first but why the 50's family? Why the mum at the sink, the boy playing with cars and the girl playing with dolls (presumably the "man" is at work?). If this is irony it wont, in my opinion, be picked up by most people watching it.

In the first broadcast they compared water provision in the 1850's with global warming in the 21st centruy, so why a 1950's setting?

It looks to me like they had an opportunity for props that were of this era and just used them for no apparent reason.

AN said...

And anonymous comments have sooh much authority.

Well we wil see on Tursday won't we.

I note that you don't address the poilitical isseus i raised against Solidarity.

Was it right for the party to be expected to entertain a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice to protect the utterly false legend that Sheridan was a perfect familly man, not only holding the whole party hostage to that falling apart, but also reinforcing a disgraceful Victorian double standard, and contributing to oppressive social expectations on those who do not live that style of life (most of us!)

seven said...

I think Jenny and anonymous comments are really rather sad.

Do they really not appreciate what a liar and hypocrite Sheridan is? Or do they just think it doesnt matter?

I'm not sure whats worse.