Yesterday's guilty verdict was always going to result in vicious rounds of denunciation on the left. And the various blogs that make up part of its online infrastructure would be first port of call for comrades hungry for analysis and with a spleen to vent.
In the pro-Tommy corner, Lenin's Tomb makes a number of stinging criticisms of the SSP leadership's conduct from the moment the allegations surfaced to the role they played in providing the perjury trial key evidence. Andy makes a similar argument on Socialist Unity. Andy's position is one well-travelled since 2006, when he backed the SSP against the Tommy faction. I can see where both comrades are coming from and their arguments are much more credible than the transparently self-serving explanations put out by interested parties (see here). They are right to criticise the SSP and like them I believe it will be a long time before the organisation regains a modicum of the reputation it once had. But in Andy's and Lenny's rush to put the boot into the SSP, Tommy is let completely off the hook. It's as if expecting comrades to lie in court (risking late perjury charges and imprisonment), for no reason other than the protection of Tommy's personage is of zero consequence. I'm sorry, I just don't buy it. In attacking the SSP's unprincipled behaviour they obscure the fact that ultimate responsibility for the mess rests on the shoulders of one man and those who egged him on.
Elsewhere, Journeyman asks which side are you on? in a post more nuanced and thoughtful than the title suggests. In his 'Solidarity with the Sheridans' Riversider claims "a whole host of blogs are literally salivating with glee ..." at the prospect of Tommy getting sent down. Apart from the Scottish Socialist Youth blog, just who these unnamed others are is a mystery. Unfortunately Riversider sticks rigidly to the "class battle" frame in discussion of the issues, a frame I've argued massively distorts what really happened and what the issues were.
On the other side of the debate, Dave Osler cuts to the quick. Likewise Jim argues that Tommy's arrogance and lies are rooted in a far left culture of personality cultism and deference. Louise in Gender, Class, Sexism and Tommy Sheridan reiterates all these points while exposing the attacks on the SSP's feminism as a rather poor attempt to dress Tommy's court case up as a principled struggle. However, even though he liked my analysis of the trial, Ian Bone's contribution comes across as bitter and vindictive.
Away from the hot house atmos of the far left, how has Tommy's conviction been received by others outside our tiny circle? As we never tire of hearing Tommy's standing in Scotland, what do Scottish political blogs have to say? Lallands Peat Worrier subjects the case to a legal analysis and throws up some uncomfortable questions Tommy's supporters have yet to answer. The Firm (magazine for Scotland's legal establishment) offers an alternate legalistic view and suggests the Lord Advocate was leaned on by Murdoch's minions to give the perjury investigation the go ahead. Will Patterson locates Tommy's hubris in his ego and foresees a Scottish left cleared and ready for the return of the Gorgeous One. Similarly Bella Caledonia isn't looking forward to Galloway's imminent return, and argues a new leadership is needed in Scotland to rally its progressive forces.
Strangely the chief props of mainstream blogging have little to say. Harry's Place has posted nothing. Paul Staines, the enfant terrible of establishment politics is similarly silent. Legal blogger David Allen Green is presumably too busy handling the mince pies to write anything. In fact, south of the border you'd be hard pressed to find anyone outside of the sunlit uphills of far left blogging giving much of a toss at all. So much for Tommy's case being a vitally important political event. However, Dave was cross-posted to Liberal Conspiracy. In the subsequent thread questions are raised about the public interest/money spent on the prosecution and Tommy's judgement. But most unnerving of all is reading a discussion of the case free from rancour and entrenched positions. Political Scrapbook mischievously runs with a parallel first suggested by Tommy at the outcome of his 2006 defamation action. But as one of the commenters notes, "I take exception to any argument that challenging Goliath justifies lying ... Tommy Sheridan has actually done News International a big favour because now any time someone accuses them of dishonesty they can legitimately argue "well, that's what Sheridan said and he was a liar too!""
The recriminations and the arguments will see the left nicely into the new year. But hopefully people will soon start looking beyond the case. As Bella Caledonia notes, "The time for raking over one individuals life is thankfully over and the new task is to work out how the future looks for the left in Scotland – where energy can go and where alliances can be made. 2011 should be the year when the agenda is reclaimed by those more interested in the opening future than the inglorious past."