Sunday, August 06, 2006

Rock On Tommy

Politaholic is pleased at the Tommy Sheridan verdict. I don't doubt that Tommy has a "massive ego" and is probably unbearable at times (then again, I guess the same could have been said of Jimmy Maxton and James Larkin) and I have absolutely no idea what he gets up to in his private life. The nature of the quarrel with his former comrades in the Scottish Socialist Party is likewise a mystery to me; but such quarrels are endemic on the far-left. Nevertheless, the testimony of what used to be called a "good-time-girl" who is on the News of World payroll (£20,000 apparently) does not seem to me to be worth a hill of beans, and much the same could be said about NoW executives. Tommy stands for old-fashioned socialist values and (even if he is sometimes wrong-headed or simplistic) good for him. He gives half his £50,000 salary to his party. He has a personality: which is more than can be said of Hoon, Darling, Blears, etc. The News of the World on the other hand is a degenerate and disgusting rag, much like the Sun (I remember it used to be said: "Only the scum read the Sun"). If I were a juror I would have had no trouble deciding whom to believe.


Blogger skipper said...

Agree re his salary- thought the same about Miltant MPs when they were in the Commons. But have to confess surprise at his victory confronted by so much evidence. His many enemies were licking their lips I'm sure but he has confounded them , not for the first time. I think it was a great victory too but quite a few of people I've spoken to about the case say they were almost wholly repelled by Tommy's 'victory rant'. And that degree of factionalism cannot be just dismissed, surely, as merely a feature of the far left? I think it undermines the message to which they claim to be dedicated.

10:07 am  
Blogger politaholic said...

Skipper, Yes, I suppose the "victory rant" was a little on the demagogic side, but after all the guy had been up against the wire. I heard Sheridan interviewed on radio a year or so ago and my recollection is that he came across as a reasonable and personable chap unlike, say, Derek Hatton, who I always found utterly repellent, largely because of his ("We're not in the business of...") mindless belligerency (I was always reminded of what Hobsbawn said of the old SDF in Labouring Men which was, if memory serves me right (I haven't looked it up), that it's not so much that they were "left-wing" its more that they were "belligerent" and "confrontational". That was Hatton exactly: loud-mouthed and ranting, alienating everyone who did not already share his views. Sheridan didn't come across like that: his views were uncompromising of course, but he sounded much more ready to argue about them reasonably. I suspect that is why he has been (in a small way, of course) a successful politician (obviously the use of AMS in Scottish elections is part of it too). The factionalism of the far-left is probably common to all small groups with views at variance with the larger society. My recollection is that in-group conformism is quite strict, and dissidents not tolerated. There is also another factor: an organisation like the Labour Party can offer a career structure to ambitious members (who can become MP's, MEP's, local councillors, trade union officials, research officers, policy advisers, or quangocrats of one kind or another). This is a strong centripetal force; of course there is plenty of in-fighting in the Labour Party, but dissidents with something to lose are less likely to actually want to leave the party, and more likely to trim their views. By comparison tiny far-left parties can offer nothing comparable. Another factor may be the greater focus on ideology on the far-left. The far-left is very bookish (unlike the far-right who can barely spell their own names). The Labour Party does not, I think, have an overwhelming interest in abstract "ideological" discussions; that too probably has something to do with a greater proximity to the wheels of power.

12:58 pm  

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