By an SSP United Left supporter
Whilst Tommy Sheridan's victory in court undoubtedly strengthened his supporters’ position within the Scottish Socialist Party, the core issues of the fight remain the same.
Sheridan’s victory, 7 jurors to 4, is surprising, since the evidence was mounting up against him as the trial progressed, we can only assume that the jury fell for Tommy’s conspiracy theories.
Whilst a split now seems likely, with two completely different and contradictory versions of the truth being on offer, both sides still seem determined to fight for the heart of the SSP. Whilst tactics on the Sheridan side of the split seem to vary between celebrating the disgusting rewriting of history that went on in the courtroom, and passing it off as truth and calling for expulsions. The next showdown will be at the August National Council meeting, scheduled on 26 August, where Sheridan will probably have a majority, but this majority may well be divided over calling for expulsions.
With rumours flying about Respect moving up north, the SWP’s tactics are of special interest. They have been the most vocal in branding those who spoke out against Sheridan as scabs, and have acted in a manner that seems to be either aimed at inflaming the crisis, wrecking the SSP and allowing Respect to move up, or to force the United Left out of the party without expulsions. To me the latter objective seems more likely, as George Galloway is not well liked in Scotland and Respect is generally seen as his party. With the UL gone the SWP would have a far more powerful position within the SSP.
George Galloway has also been up to his usual tricks, advising Tommy to keep the money he won in the trial, along with the £30,000 he received for the Daily Record story. Tommy Sheridan is yet to promise any of the money to the party, seemingly having forgotten that your average Scottish worker does not suddenly find £23,000 in his lap.
It seems likely that he will try to use some of the money as a tool to ensure his re-election as convener, offering to clear the party’s debt if his bid is successful.
The SSP has dark times ahead — the rewriting of history is a shockingly Stalinist tactic that reveals the opportunism and hunger for power that motivates both Sheridan and the Socialist Worker Platform. There seems to be no common basis in which those who have told the truth throughout and refused to lie for Tommy can co-operate with those who seek to paint them as liars and scabs. However when the truth of the matter comes out, perhaps as a result of the perjury investigation, it will be far too late for the SSP.