Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Fratricide in the SSP?

It won't have escaped your attention that Tommy Sheridan, the charismatic leader of the SSP, has stepped down as party leader - the ostensible reason being that his wife is expecting their first child.

Now, nothing raises skeptical eye-brows more quickly than when a politician declares that he (almost always he) wants to "spend more time with his family" and in Mr. Sheridan's case, this routine response appears to be justified. Lurid stories concerning Tommy's private life appeared in the vile News of the World (I haven't read them - and I'm not providing a link; you read them if you want to). The SSP were, apparently, not too happy - not about the allegations per se - but with the manner in which Tommy Sheridan dealt with them (yeah, right!)

Exactly what is going on is far from clear: a number of stories are circulating about the other party members being unhappy at the SSP's "one-man band" image, and also about Sheridan's recent emphasis on nationalism, which some feel has compromised the party's uncompromising socialist stance. But it is becoming increasingly obvious that the SSP are not happy campers, as anyone who saw the piece on Newsnight Scotland would testify.

You don't have to be a SSP supporter - or even a socialist - to be rooting for Tommy Sheridan in his legal action against the News of the World, one of the more putrid emmissions from the Rupert Murdoch stable (and it's a strong field in which to compete). Yet the show of solidarity with Tommy from his SSP comrades was distinctly under-whelming. The SSP has opted, for the time being, to have a collective leadership, so the party that had six MSPs and one leader now has five. One of the new leaders, as the Herald reports it, gave this heart-warming support for her embattled comrade:

"Ms Leckie said there was no official party backing behind any legal challenge and when asked whether she personally supported Mr Sheridan, she replied: 'I don't know what it is you are asking me.'"


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