Friday, 16 March 2012

Tommy Sheridan's independence irony

For sceptics of Scottish Nationalism generally and the SNP in particular it's always been interesting to observe how the party tries to reconcile the various political views encompassed by its Blairesque 'big tent' approach to politics.

Of course, to a large extent its lack of activity as a governing party and, as a corollary, its preoccupation with its 'big idea', have conspired to keep such paradoxes largely under the political settee*.

Thus the SNP's association with wealthy donors and cronies from the right of the political spectrum - most obviously Donald Trump, Brian Souter and Rupert Murdoch - hasn't really been too detrimental to the party's political fortunes. Yet.

But in the last couple of weeks in particular, Trump's 'mad Alex' response to Mr Salmond's preoccupation with renewables and the first minister's dealings with Murdoch have not made for good Nationalist headlines. And indeed even the more long-standing problem of Brian Souter allowed Wullie Rennie to ably demonstrate Mr Salmond's ability to totally avoid the question - twice - at yesterday's FMQs.

And now there's the potential for another threat, this time from the hard left. In an article on News[sic]net Scotland Tommy Sheridan beats the drum for independence, and excoriates Alex Salmond for his "apparent love-in with one of the nastiest and reactionary business moguls on the planet."

And he implores the first minister to "drop Murdoch now and help lead us to a successful independence referendum untarnished by association with the toxic and poisonous News International brand."

Which in view of Tommy Sheridan's brand of politics - that have never really found much favour with Scottish voters - and even not mentioning his extra-political activities and troubles, all this seems just a tad ironic.

Of course, it's not difficult to discern Mr Sheridan's motivation here, but to the extent he tries to tries to disguise his conflation of his own personal antipathy towards Murdoch and NI with the issue of Scottish independence, it's questionable whether his intervention will help or hinder the SNP.

Equally, however, perhaps the bigger issue still is whether anyone will actually notice his input, excepting of course us political anoraks who pay a bit more attention to these things than the people who'll largely decide the referendum result.

* No allusion to the so-called 'sofa politics' of Blairism intended!


Braveheart said...

Many Sheridanites voted SNP in the last few elections in the absence of the Tommy himself.

They'll note Sheridan's intervention and be, a tad maybe, less likely to follow the royalist/nationalist/christian/murdochite bandwaggon....

Stuart Winton said...

I suppose in the grand scheme of things it won't make a whole lot of difference, BH, but it does underline one thing that I could never quite get my head round, namely the support for independence from many of those from the right-of-centre in view of the more left-of-centre politics that it would presage, if perhaps not as hard left as Tommy Sheridan's ideal.

Barbarian of the North said...

I think the SNP just wish Tommy would go away. Bear in mind, that with all sorts of legal issues, Tommy could suddenly be in the limelight, with his antagonists in the proverbial toilet.

The unionist media and politicos will jump all over this, and given there is over two years to go to the Referendum, it could turn out out to be another problem. It won't affect the "Yes" vote with regards to Tommy's supporters, whether they like the SNP or not; but it might have an effect on the undecided.

Sheridan is an unknown quantity here. Maybe the SNP will reach out for him, in a similar manner to Labour getting all touchy-feely with Livingston (tax avoidance genius that he is).

I don't honestly know. But as long as the SNP continues to be up Murdoch's backside, there will be problems.

Stuart Winton said...

Thanks, BotN.

I suppose it can all be viewed in several different ways.

After all, clearly Alex Salmond knows there's a downside to cosying up to Rupert Murdoch, but equally he must consider that the upside in terms of a supportive Sun etc is worth it, and perhaps even that Murdoch's big fall out with the London Establishment can work in both their favours.

Ditto, Tommy Sheridan; perhaps if it's considered that he can bring some pro-independence votes in then to that extent the SNP could embrace him, as long as that doesn't scare the other horses too much.

On the other hand I don't really know. The votes of those supporting the hard left are probably largely decided anyway, either way.

I can't really see Alex inviting Tommy round for a Tunnocks Caramel Wafer, but on the other hand I can't see him going out of his way to criticise him either.

Perhaps AS will simply hope that it's one of those issues that he can do his best to ignore as regards public statements, a la Brian Souter.

Allan said...


The SSP were always in favour of a "Socialist Independent Scotland" ((c) Tommy Sheridan 1999), so Sheridan's intervention is not a surprise in one respect. What this means in terms of his "Solidarity" party remains to be seen. As for never finding favour with Scottish voters, they did win 6 "list" seats in the "plague on all of your houses" 2003 Holyrood Elections - maybe that was their downfall too much too soon.

The lesson here (that maybe Salmond took note of - hence his "cool tartan version of New Labour") is that there was (and still is) a constituancy of left of centre voters disenfranchised by "Scottish" Labour's march to the right. Remember the SNP under Swinney in 2003 advocated "trickle-down" Reganomics.

As for the influence of Sheridan, I think that his influence is on the wane, thanks to his own stupidity. It's a pity, as there are people not being represented in the mainstream of Scottish Politics that he did a very good job of representing. It could be argued that the first sign of "Scottish" Labour's arrogance was their ram rod refusal to have their concience pricked by Sheridan - he was after all a trowback to their collective past.

Not sure what's going on with my blog Stuart. At least the grey square seems to have vanished for the moment.

Stuart Winton said...


Indeed the SSP did win a few seats back then, but I'm not sure how the influence of the hard left will help the independence cause with regard to the dominant mass of voters in the centre of Scottish politics, not to mention those of a more Tartan Tory persuasion who seem to find a home with the SNP. And as I said earlier I can never quite reconcile the latter's support for independence with the leftwards lurch that independence would presumably presage, but perhaps like the social democrats and socialists, the right-wingers see enough in Salmond and the SNP - your mention of Swinney's economics, for example - to think that indy would mean something for them; Alex Salmond's big tent seems to encompass everyone!

As for the SSP's independent socialist republic, I'm not sure if this would extent to an independent Scotland with the likes of Souter, Trump and Murdoch helping themselves to the caramel wafers with Her Majesty looking down on all of them, but then I'm certainly no expert on the politics of the SSP and/or Solidarity.

But I dare say they'd see even that as a stepping stone to the socialist republic!

The grey square on your blog still seems to be there from where I'm sitting.

Stuart Winton said...

And interesting stuff among the MacTwitterati about Tommy's lawyer now writing a column for the Sun!!

Allan said...

Ah, but Stuart i'm not really talking about "hard left" supporters. I'm talking about people who would probably be to the right of the SSP and maybe would not think about voting for them normally, but with New Labour and "Scottish" Labour drifting rightwards see the logic in voting for a genuinely left of centre party.

Of course, now the SNP seems to have hovered up these voters, leaving the hard-core supporters to fight over whats left like two countries fought over some farmland in the South Atlantic thirty years ago.

The influence is not in "the Hard left" per se, but more in the (waining) charismatic campaigning style of Sheridan. The boy used to be good, in the early days of the (pre) Holyrood parliament he was the best, better than Salmond and Dewer.

The SSP/Solidarity's vision of an INdependent Scotland is different to that of Souter/Murdoch & Trump's. I'm sure that the SNP don't care, as long as we get there. If you doubt that, check out the comments section of Better Nation welcoming the support of The S*n.

Stuart Winton said...

Thanks Allan, it's certainly a complex dynamic, and I think we're perhaps in danger of over-analysing here ;0)

And I don't think I read all the comments on BN regarding the Sun, so I may have a look later on.

Also, I can see everything on your blog again, so will have a read tonight when I've got a bit of time!!