I think I’m glad I’m not an SSP supporter. After a good half a decade of good progress, this past year or so has been disastrous. Now it seems as though they are going down in flames, with an additional little firework display for good measure just in case nobody noticed.
When Tommy Sheridan resigned as leader of the SSP last year I was surprised. In many ways, Tommy Sheridan is the SSP. He also enjoys the distinction of being the only person in the Scottish Parliament who is even vaguely interesting.
All of this hoo-ha is of course the reason why the party is in so much trouble these days. At the time I didn’t really know why he resigned. I knew there was some rumour about his private life published by the News of the World, but apart from that I knew nothing about it. And I didn’t care about it. After all, it is his private life.
That’s why I was surprised when I heard that Sheridan was going to sue the News of the World. Apart from the constant reminder — in the shape of Colin Fox — that he is no longer the leader of the SSP, I had forgotten all about the NotW story. After all, we are talking about the News of the World here; it is hardly reputable.
You can understand why Sheridan might want to do away with all of these allegations. But the prior to the court case it was all fish and chip paper. By taking the NotW to court, Sheridan has refreshed everybody’s memories of the allegations. It is in the Scottish news almost every day, and the allegations being made in court become more and more incredible as each day goes by.
The allegations about swingers clubs and nipple clamps all of a sudden seem a bit mundane. Yesterday he was accused of participating in a threesome with an SSP party activist and his brother-in-law. Today the SSP’s national secretary claimed that Sheridan had admitted to visiting swingers clubs.
There are several witnesses who are not following Sheridan’s line. These aren’t people who are interested in seeing Sheridan’s political career go up in smoke. They are SSP activists. More than anything I get the sense that — if these allegations are true — these people are personally disappointed in Sheridan and can’t quite believe the fact that he’s gone to court and everything to try and prove the News of the World wrong when they are not. Digbeth says that it looks like a “Jonathan Aitken moment”.
The thing is, I wouldn’t mind the fact that Tommy Sheridan is a sexy wildman. He is known for being a colourful character anyway, and what he gets up to in his private life is absolutely up to him. The thing is, by taking the NotW to court he has turned that fish and chip paper into daily headline news. If the allegations are true, the fact that he has taken them to court has given everybody the perfect excuse to point and laugh.
Even if Sheridan wins the case, some of the mud will probably stick. Sheridan will now forever be known as that orange swinger dude with the nipple clamps who spends his spare time being a socialist.