John Cleese was interviewed many years ago about his inspirations for some of the scenes in his file The Life of Brian. He said that he had passed by some paper sellers who were all from various far-left groups who seemed to hate each other more than their supposed enemy, the Government. From this came the Peoples Front for Judea and The Judean Peoples Front with the sketch about what have the Romans done for us.
Lots of laughs to be had of course, but there is a serious observation in this comedic interpretation of the sectarian squabbling of the far-left sects. Socialism is as I understand it, the idea that people should co-operate and work together for the common good. Sounds great doesn't it? Trouble is I have yet to meet a group of socialists actually capable of achieving anything like their ideology would suggest.
Recently we have seen how badly behaved the comrades of the Socialist Workers Party are. I don't intend to repeat that (continuing) story since it has been covered in depth both on this blog and elsewhere. However, another story has now come to light of "a different kind". The return of Tommy Sheridan to active politics through the West of Scotland Anti-Bedroom Tax Campaign. The squabbles have already begun after just two meetings!
Tommy Sheridan is the former MSP and leader of the Scottish Socialist Party that once was one of the most successful far-left groups in this country, boasting six members of the Scottish Parliament, a number of local councillors a "united" socialist organisation containing all the main groups and feted by the press. This is now all gone, mainly due to the "actions" or should I say "activities" of one individual, but also to a large extent to the behaviour of the other "comrades" in the SSP.
Just to quickly surmise: The News of the World published a story about Sheridan visiting a "swingers" club, he sued and won, then following a further investigation got done for perjury and ended up doing porridge for a year. To this day I have never understood why he either didn't (a) ignore the report as despite a few sniggers in dark corners of the local pubs would have eventually been forgotten or (b) just tell the press it was nobody else's business and leave it that.
Whatever the motivation it destroyed his political career and wrecked the SSP which feel apart and left the trots even weaker in Scotland than before the project began.
Undaunted it seems that Sheridan has now decided to return to active politics but has some bitter enemies who are now according to reports at the Socialist Unity website trying to oust him from his role in the anti-bedroom tax campaign. Accusations of men bullying women from different "trot" groups allegedly by members of the SSP but they deny this and others say this group are just "ex-members" of the SSP pursuing the party leaderships agenda, though why "ex" members would want to do that is beyond me.
Sheridan is accused of being backed by members of an organisation that "allows its women members to be abused" (a not so oblique reference to the SWP) and ....the argument goes on back and forth in the columns of the SU website. John Cleese, you were right mate!
As for Sheridan? As someone pointed out he's done his time, paid his debt to society and should be allowed to live his life. Whether that should be in the political domain is questionable? The controversies from the NoTW case will continue to dog him for a log time to come now.
I'll end with a quote from Gregor Cubie of the Huffington Post who writes:
Life of Brian has already told it mate!