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Repeat After Me: No Gods, No Masters


Mick Hall • 8 August 2006

Perhaps it is high time the embattled factions within the leadership cadre of the Scottish Socialist Party cooled down somewhat, and took a deep breath before they blow their party asunder and, by doing so, once again leave the more militant sections of the Scottish Working Class without a political party to lead them in struggle. Not since Stalin's bloody purges of the Russian Communist Party, when the old butcher had the majority of those who had led the October Revolution at Lenin's side purged from the party and then murdered in the cellars of the Lubyanka (Moscow headquarters of the Soviet Unions KGB), has a European Socialist Party descended into such a leadership crises through sheer egotism and foolishness.

The catalyst for this crisis was the decision of the former leader of the SSP, Tommy Sheridan, to sue the Murdoch newspaper News of the World, against the advice and wishes of the majority of his comrades on the party's Executive Committee, after the paper printed a salacious series of articles accusing him of promiscuous sexual behavior. When Sheridan refused to abide by this advice and went ahead and sued the paper, the SSP leadership were thrown into turmoil. Not least as Sheridan actions went against all previous practice and experiences of revolutionary socialists not to engage with the bourgeois courts, unless it was forced upon them; not least because historically no good has ever come of it. During the course of Mr Sheridan's hearing in the Scottish Courts, almost the entire leadership of the SSP were to find themselves being called before the court to testify for one side or the other in the the libel case Mr Sheridan brought against the NoW.

The outcome of the case was that the Jury found in favor of Mr Sheridan, who had claimed to the court that there was a massive conspiracy to discredit him and remove him from the SSP and the Scottish political scene. Those who he claimed were party to this conspiracy included the News of the World and its sources, former close comrades within the SSP leadership, and various bit part players like the cleaner employed by one of the hotel's in which he was said to have had a sexual liaison.

That the News of World suffered a major defeat will delight many people, certainly former trade union activists like myself who remember the damage that Murdoch did in the 1980s, when, assisted by Thatchers anti trade union legislation, he moved his printing plant from Fleet Street to Wapping East London. Plus the grubby and despicable role his media Empire has played when giving support to the likes of George W Bush and Tony Blair in their military adventures in the Middle East and beyond.

However, whether the jury find for or against in my experience is nether here nor there and proves little as to guilt or innocence. Thus I am somewhat saddened that many on the left have based their political position on the kerfuffle within the SSP leadership cadre on the Jury's verdict, which seems extremely naive to me and goes against the grain of history, especially recent Irish history.

The fact is, in Jury Trials you win some, you lose some. Whilst the jury system should be defended as it is still the best chance of gaining justice via the law, it is far from infallible and certainly not an exact science, as all sorts of factors come into play, and only one of them will be whether you did the deed or not. In many cases this will not be the over-riding factor which decides guilt or innocence. The type of crime you may or may not have committed, the class and sex of the jurors, the competence of the prosecution and defense and how they marshal their briefs and who they decide to call; the degree the police or State wish to nail you; last, but certainly not least, the Beak who sits upon the bench. All of the aforementioned and many lesser but just as important issues will decide whether the jury finds in your favour. Thus, I was positively amazed at the comments by some members of the Scottish Socialist Party when Tommy Sheridan won his libel suit against the News of the World in Edinburgh last week.

Instead of walking off cheque in pocket thinking they had a result here, those who supported Sheridan started prattling about purges of the party and mass expulsions whilst praising Scottish Justice, in the process spreading the illusion the Scottish legal system is less corrupt than its English counterpart, which is nonsense as they are both based on class prejudice. The anti Sheridan section within the SSP were little better and raged on about a miscarriage of justice, as if all that was needed was a change of Jurors who would bring in a different verdict. In reality what is needed is for the class base of the Scottish Judicial system to be turned on its head and in the process the whole wretched edifice of the Scottish legal system receiving a hefty shake up.

As to the future, as far as the Scottish Socialist Party is concerned it might help if for the coming year a provisional leadership were to take office, made up of people who have had nothing to do with the Sheridan court case, including Tommy Sheridan himself. Anyone who either gave evidence for or against the News of the World would be excluded from senior office within the SSP for one year. I say this not to endorse any allegations made against these comrades but so that tempers and the dust can settle. As to Tommy Sheridan, what is the point of him returning to the leadership if the News of the World intends to appeal, as the appeal would only re-engulf him and the SSP in controversy and allegations once again?

The SSP membership should seriously consider whether the aforementioned provisional leadership would, in the short term, be beneficial to the Party. As membership of any incoming leadership would be restricted to the coming year, this would not be an indictment of any comrade, it would simply be a means to make sure the party gets through the challenging months ahead. If this were to happen, all those involved in this dreadful kerfuffle would be able to stand for office in a year's time if they so wished. There will be those who say this cannot be done, but if the SSP is not to be a one man band or a party led by a small ensemble, then there is no other viable choice. There really is no alternative if the SSP is not to be torn asunder as the political and personal differences within the current leadership at this time are too intense to be put to one side.

Before we go to bed each night, perhaps it might help if us leftists repeat three times, No Gods, No Masters!



















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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

13 August 2006

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As They Were Made They Were Matched
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Poacher Turned Gamekeeper
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Criminality Figures Do Not Add Up
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Repeat After Me: No Gods, No Masters
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Dual Presidency More Realistic
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