Monday, July 17, 2006

Party Out of Bounds

Tommy Sheridan, former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party (though I do seem to recall they do without leaders as such) has been in the news, having dismissed his legal team in the libel case he has brought against the dear old News of the World, who claimed that he engaged in wild drunken orgies (which included cocaine and champagne - well, if one is to be decadent, one should go the whole hog) and attended swingers' clubs too.

Tommy is an old Militant Labour Trot, a veteran of the poll tax protests, having done time for his opposition to that most hated of Thatcher's policy measures. Unlike most other Trots however he is a rather canny politician, having been a member of the Scottish Parliament since its establishment in 1999, and his party has managed to secure a respectable representation in Scottish political life. Far from being a radical loony lefty, he operates much like any conventional politician, catering to the mundane needs of often extremely disadvantaged constituents.

In 2000, along with his fellow party-member Alan McCombs, he published a book called Imagine, a thoughtful, sober and well-written blueprint for a social-democratic society, that enshrined the primacy of elections and mentioned not once the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is unlikely to become an underground classic nor ever be influential, though the reviews - often from commentators well to the right of Sheridan - were generally positive. I lent my copy to a Kilkenny anarchist about five years ago and never got it back, property being theft and all that. If you're reading Garret, I hope you passed it on to somebody needful of it.

Though I am a person of unremarkable dissoluteness (most people that know me will be relieved to hear that, though a tiny minority will be, I'm sure, mildly disappointed) I cannot say that I would be terribly put out voting for or entrusting the country with somebody who engages in group sex and entrusts his own wife with others of his kind. But there are people that would think otherwise and Tommy might wonder whether his political career will survive this case even should he win. Tommy has always elicited some derision because of his fondness for sunbeds, but being Glaswegian, this is really no more unusual than a Geordie with a fondness for going without a coat on a winter's Saturday night out. If the man enjoys the good life, well I don't really care.

There is also in the evidence being given by the defence something of an error of scale; the plaintiff is alleged to have been spotted in a bed with one other man and three women and this, apparently constitutes an 'orgy'. I would have thought that this would merely be group sex; surely an orgy requires at least a dozen or so participants?

Fair play anyway to Tommy for sacking his counsel for the way they ganged up on a witness giving evidence against him. This, after all is the man that took his oath of allegience to Ms Elizabeth Windsor with a clenched fist (see picture above). Best of luck with your own representation...