This is our truth

Scottish Socialist Voice editorial 25th August 06

I’m sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

- John Lennon

How did it come to this? The SSP - the most successful socialist party in Scotland since World War II - is on the verge of a split.

Tommy Sheridan - one of the most monumental figures in Scottish socialism - is standing on the outside of the party trying to hurl grenades in, writing off the SSP as a “colossal train wreck”. He plans to launch a new party next week, and two platform groupings within the SSP have announced they are to join him.

This has not occurred because the SSP, which just a few months ago had the vast majority of socialist traditions in Scotland united under the same banner, has ruptured through political disagreement.
We face this schism as a result of a sleazy little story in a newspaper no-one trusts anyway.
The differences within the SSP centre on what is true and what is lies, on one man’s battle to preserve his personal reputation at the expense of the reputation of his party.

The Voice has not commented on the events surrounding Tommy Sheridan’s resignation for the last year and a half, other than to recognise the huge contribution he has made to building socialism in Scotland, and to correct news speculation that his resignation was caused by infighting or a leadership coup.

Our editorial at the time, in Voice issue 198, was agreed with the entire Executive Committee of the SSP, and Tommy himself. The Voice said:

“There is not one particle of truth in any of the allegations of internecine battles or political manoeuvring running behind what’s happened...

“Tommy tendered his resignation after a meeting that was extremely difficult. Not one member of the Executive Committee voted on it without questioning themselves again and again.

“But the Executive emerged from the meeting unanimous and united.”

In the following editions we got on with the job of covering the too often ignored campaigns against poverty and inequality which spring up daily on Scotland’s streets and all over the world, and the slaughter that has been unleashed by the American and British governments.

Despite Tommy’s allegation in June this year - when he launched his diatribe in the mainstream media against the “cabal” he claimed was out to destroy him - that the Voice “has been a tool of the undeclared faction over the last 18 months”, we never once referred to his court case, with the exception of reporting the SSP’s battle to keep confidential party documents out of the court.

Moreover, the Voice has given equal coverage to the hard work carried out by all six of the SSP’s MSPs since their election in 2003.

But after the shabby pantomime that Tommy Sheridan directed in the Court of Session - which became the daily focus of every newspaper in Scotland, not to mention media throughout the world - and with the SSP on the brink of a split, the Voice cannot ignore the situation before us and is therefore forced to comment.
Our centre pages this week sets out, in chronological order, the events of the last year and a half. Everything we have documented there can be corroborated from other sources - none of it is the invention of a ‘faction’ driven by jealousy or personal hatred. It is an accurate and honest record of a deeply traumatic period in our movement’s history.

We also re-print the minutes of the 9 November 2004 Executive Committee meeting. While some have claimed these minutes are fake, they were ratified by an EC meeting on 24 November 2004. It has also been said that the minutes are unnecessarily salacious, containing more detail than ordinary EC minutes and kept with the intention of being used against Tommy.

In fact, they are briefer than usual EC minutes, containing only the bare bones of a four-hour discussion.
They record the reason the SSP Executive asked one of the most outstanding campaigners for socialism in Scotland to resign from his position as convenor - failure to do so would have been a criminal betrayal of the SSP membership’s right to hold its leadership accountable for its actions.

It has been said, and bears repeating, that the decision to ask Tommy to resign was never about whether or not he went to swingers clubs, or cheated on his wife. It was always about his attitude to the truth, in that he thought it was dispensable, and that comrades should collaborate in a cover-up. He saw no contradiction in being a ‘working-class hero’ while lying to the working-class. But the EC did, and voted accordingly.

Since then, he has spun a tale about a ‘vicious faction’ that sought to undermine him and in so doing, put the SSP itself on trial.

He has talked at length in the press about this faction, which he claims controls the machinery of the SSP and enjoys a majority on the Executive Committee.

The EC was elected by SSP members at conference less than six months ago. The vast majority of SSP members are not members of any platform within the SSP - even the misnamed ‘SSP Majority’ faction, set up to support Tommy, comprises only a small minority of SSP members.

In fact no network, platform or grouping within the SSP held a majority on the EC - yet Tommy and his supporters decided, in the wake of his court victory, to walk away from the SSP nonetheless.

The two groupings within the SSP who have decided to exit with him - the Socialist Workers’ Platform and the International Socialist Platform (CWI) - have handcuffed themselves to a deadweight, who will sink them like a stone.

In leaving the SSP, they are leaving the most democratic political party in Scotland.

At our conference in just six weeks’ time, party members can hold EC members to account for any mistakes they believe they have made in the handling of this situation. SSP members can hold the editor of the Voice to account for this article if they so wish.

That is the nature of democracy - we must all take responsibility for our actions and face the consequences.

But rather than take responsibility for his actions, Tommy Sheridan has lied his way through his court case, screeched “scab” at those who refused to support his corrupt effort to clear his name, and now, realising that he was unlikely to reclaim the convenorship of the SSP and lead an expulsion purge of those who have told the truth, he has chosen to establish his own party, in opposition to the SSP.

He pleads victimisation, claiming to have been hounded out, but in truth, he is running from those who would not allow him to rewrite history - he is running from the truth.

Tommy Sheridan is attempting to build a new party on a landfill site of lies, and it is destined to sink into the muck on which it is founded.




August 2006

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