Sex and the Socialists
On 11 November Tommy Sheridan resigned from his post as convenor of the Scottish Socialist Party. Days later the Scottish News of the World published an expose of Sheridan’s affair with a party activist.
The report was the usual moronic purient nonsense: the woman with whom Sheridan was having an affair was a former sex worker, they had had sex with another couple. Yeah, and who cares exactly?
We utterly condemn this media harassment of Tommy Sheridan. It was also, of course, a way of making a vicious right wing attack on the Scottish Socialist Party.
The fall-out from these events has been very unfortunate. It would have made sense for Sheridan to refuse to comment let it all blow over. The majority on the SSP executive apparently wanted him to do that. There is no suggestion that we know of that they wanted to make any moral judgement against Sheridan. But Sheridan wanted to go for a libel writ as a point of principle. The result was his resignation.
The SSP now has to endure a nationwide media story — about internal rifts and money troubles — instead of just a very tedious sex scandal. Which is of course just what the News of the World wanted.
All of us against Blair
Thirty MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for the Prime Minister to be thrown out. An impeachment motion could have been a good tactic in the ongoing struggle to call the Government to account over the war in Iraq. However it has turned out to be a weird popular front affair. Led by Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price, the motion is signed by ten Tories including Boris Johnson, John Gummer and Douglas Hogg, some SNPers and Liberal Democrats too. Guess who else? George Galloway of course. The campaign is being backed by the Stop the War Committee. Not a single backbench Labour MP has signed the motion, doubtless because of the association with Tories.
Scoffing while the computers burn
On the 7 December 183 people will sit down to eat a three course lunch at London’s Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre. The people — mostly staff from the Child Support Agency — will be joined by B or C list celebrities, Boris Johnson probably. The event is an award ceremony for staff. I guess the CSA staff would rather their computer system worked and that they didn’t have to cope with the justified anger of lone parents who are out of pocket due to systematic failures at the agency. They would rather that many of them weren’t about to lose their jobs. And they would rather the first prize was not a foreign trip with senior managers. Lone parents may also be horrified to know that the event (not including the first prize) has cost £108,000.
Quislings, Vichyists, or just plain fascists: many on the British left search for their sharpest words of hostility when arguing that the reformist politics of the Iraqi Communist Party, the main political force in the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, should rule out trade-union solidarity by British trade unionists with the IFTU.
What about the Muslim Brotherhood? Its British offshoot is the Muslim Association of Britain, a favoured ally of the SWP. Its Iraqi offshoot is the Iraq Islamic Party, which has a minister in the US-appointed Interim Government. (After the US attack on Fallujah, the IIP said it was withdrawing from the government. In fact, however, its minister stayed in place, with both he and the IIP explaining that he would just withdraw from IIP party activities for the time being).
Or the Mahdi Army, jewels of whose thought the SWP’s John Rees was reverently quoting in his speeches around the European Social Forum? They are now in a pan-Shia alliance with SCIRI and the Dawa party, the Shia Islamist parties in the Interim Government.
No denunciations of them as "Quislings" from the SWP. Playing "realpolitik" with the US occupation is apparently OK if done by Islamists, and brands groups as untouchable only if they are labour-based...