Saturday, 3 January 2009

From the barricades to panto

I would normally make a point of avoiding 'Celebrity' anything, especially Celebrity Big Brother, but I had to tune in last night to witness the car crash of Tommy Sheridan entering the house.

Whether he's driven like a moth to the glare of publicity, or whether he just needs the money, it does seem like the culmination of a downward spiral. I've heard Tommy speak many times and still maintain that from a purely agitational and emotional point of view he is one of the best I've ever heard. He is just about the same age as me, and reading his autobiographical 'Time To Rage' was inspirational and full of resonance for our generation radicalised in the 1980's.

In the 'Tommy-gate' SSP S&M scandal there was a sense of tragedy when former comrades turned on each other. And now there is a sense of farce as Tommy follows in the footsteps of Galloway. (I never had much time for Gorgeous George but his one saving grace - his bravura performance at the US Senate Hearing - has been eclipsed by visions of him crawling around in a cat suit).

Apart from a certain sadness the only thing to take from this is that socialists should be wary of leaders and personalities and that nobody is above time, place and circumstance. It's happened before and I'm sure it will happen again - Think of Plekhanov who devoted his life to the struggle, was the elder statesman of Marxism for a generation, and then when the Russian Revolution came along, found himself on the wrong side of history.

We would do well to remember that in the next few days when no doubt a lot of bile will be brought forth from opponents on both Left and Right to re-write Tommy's history and the organisations with which he has been involved.

And possibly in the future, remembering Tommy and before him Derek Hatton, we should also be a bit more wary of potential leaders with a predilection for sharp suits, sun beds and the sound of their own voice.

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