William Wallace did not turn to Andrew Murray at Stirling Bridge and say “I am not fighting alongside you, I hear you’re hard on your tenants.”
A declaration of interest. At the SNP conference in Glasgow in March I was feeling very down. Having been rejected at candidate vetting by the SNP leadership, and the fact leaked to the press with resulting brouhaha, I was effectively cold-shouldered at what was a very managed loyalist mass rally. I spent a lot of time on my own and people I knew were positively walking away to avoid me.
As regular readers know I am bipolar, and I know that when I am severely depressed my perception can be wrong. But in the SNP club a few weeks later a very sensible gentleman told me he and his wife had been appalled at the way I was treated at the conference. I am pretty confident it was not a distorted perception.
Anyway, I was sitting on my own in the conference hall when Michelle Thomson came and sought me out, sat with me and chatted to me. I have no doubt that her motive was simple personal kindness. I should add that the next day Chris Law did much the same.
In Scotland we have had five days of Michelle being treated by the media as though she were the Yorkshire Ripper. The BBC, who never once managed to ask Jim Murphy about the Henry Jackson Society, have been on 24 hour Thomsonwatch, including aggressive doorstepping a la Sky News.
I am not going to set out the detail of the case here, but highly recommend that you read Wings on the distortion of the issues, and Lallands on the legal position. Both are excellent, but to me neither quite clearly delineates the most essential point.
To preface that point, let me restate that Michelle is not under investigation, and her own role is unclear.
The key point is that at no time was any vendor selling their house ripped off. This is not a case of distressed people dispossessed, and the attempts by media and politicians to make it appear that way are tendentious.
The worst that allegedly happened is this. A and B are in cahoots. Mr Smith sells his property to A for an agreed market price. A then sells to B for market price plus 20 grand. The bank gives a mortgage for this, but A quietly gives the extra 20 grand back to B under the table.
The fraud is on the mortgage company which has been tricked into giving a higher mortgage than it otherwise would have. The fraud in no way harms the original vendor. The fraud does not even harm the mortgage company provided the mortgage is paid – and there is no accusation of default. What the mortgage company has lost is that it has as security an interest over a property with a false value.
But again, unless there were a default, it has actually helped the mortgage company too as in the weird world of banking its larger loan is an asset not a liability on its books.
So it is a fraud, but not one perpetrated on poor vendors. It is a trick played on the ludicrous banking system. Clever, dishonest but not morally outrageous. I repeat again, there is no evidence or even legal accusation that Michelle Thomson was involved in any of this. But in any case it is nowhere near as immoral as starting an illegal war with consequent deaths of millions of people. Lets get a grip.
I have never claimed to be perfect. All of us have done things wrong in our past. For me the Independence referendum campaign transcended all that. It was a millenarian movement, a time when people envisaged a world renewed and more just. That phrase about living in the first days of a better nation carried enormous resonance. It was the defining moment of my own life despite coming in its Autumn. Those of us in the frontline of the Yes campaign underwent a kind of emotional rebirth. Sins were wiped clean. It was a sacramental experience, and will lead on to that better world in an Independent Scotland in short time.
It sparked England’s chance for change with Corbyn.
I don’t care what mistakes people made before the Yes campaign. By dedicating themselves to that social movement, they wiped the slate clean.
Which leads me on to Tommy Sheridan. Neither Tommy nor Michelle will thank me for lumping them together, given the very different circumstances. But the continued shunning of Sheridan by pro-Independence organisations from Rise to the SNP is ludicrous.
Most ludicrous of all is the language parroted by the left about Sheridan, that “A space containing Tommy Sheridan is not a safe space for women.” You find it here in the comment by Edward Bonobo. You find it in this article by Tommy Ball. I have had it repeated to me several times.
One answer to this is that it is even more dangerous to be in organisations that teach members to parrot catchphrases, as opposed to think.
In what way precisely is proximity to Tommy Sheridan dangerous to women? If it were true that he has a Svengali like irresistible sexual appeal – which appears to be the nub of the accusation as far as I can make out any sense from Tommy Ball’s article – then surely there is not a woman in Scottish politics not warned against it by now? Is it not rather demeaning to women to argue they would not be capable of protecting themselves from Tommy Sheridan? What precisely about being in the same “space” as Tommy Sheridan is unsafe for women? What does “space” mean in this context? Room, meeting, city? The argument about “safe space” is clearly a nonsense.
I do not know the truth about the sexual shenanigans of which Tommy was accused by Murdoch. Nor do I in the least care if they were true. I have done all that kind of stuff. Often before tea. I do know that Sheridan was jailed for perjury, and that Coulson lied in court at the same trial but the judges ruled that it was OK for Coulson to lie, but not for Sheridan. I know there are allegations that Sheridan pressured other people to lie for him. I do not know if it is true, but I have had so many friends – of both sexes – ask me over the years to give them an alibi for marital infidelity I am not shocked by that. I am afraid to say that in my younger days I have asked that myself.
None of which explains the sheer hatred and bile poured out at Sheridan. This is a man who liberated poor families from the destitution and humiliation of warrant sales, who led the anti-poll tax campaign, who sparked the Murdoch phone-hacking revelations and has been repeatedly arrested and even jailed outside Faslane – trying to make the world a “safer space” for everyone. This tribute is undoubtedly true:
You supported individuals in the community; both in parliament and in the street, you were able to use your undoubted powers of oratory to press home your cause; you led the Scottish Socialist Party to considerable electoral success; and your contributions to the anti-poll tax campaign and the abolition of warrant sales will become part of the fabric of Scottish social and political history.
It was said by Lord Bracadale as he sentenced him to three years in prison for perjury in the Murdoch case.
Tommy Sheridan proclaims his innocence, but in any event he has undoubtedly made mistakes in life. But his achievements are very important, and the continued vindictiveness of the sex-negative feminists and their followers on the Left is extreme. Tommy has been to jail. Is offender rehabilitation only something the political classes claim to believe in because they don’t actually expect to meet any ex-convicts in their sphere of life? The attempt to dress the vicious vindictiveness up as warding off a present danger to women from Tommy Sheridan is intellectually ludicrous.
I shared a platform with Tommy Sheridan at Caird Square, Dundee on Sunday. I was not asked to speak until the gloaming, when 95% of those attending had gone home, but I accepted that and got on with it because I will do anything, anywhere to promote the cause of Independence. The SNP boycott of the event because Tommy was there cannot possibly be helpful if Independence is really the aim.
The Independence movement has a vast and powerful army arraigned against us. The entire British state, their corporate masters, the transatlantic neo-cons, both state and corporate media, the security services. For God’s sake, we need to be absolutely united if we are to reach our goal.
We need all of us. We must value all of us; as people, not robots. We should not be trying to project some corporate media image of a totally fake and hypocritical groomed perfection.
We have tremendously powerful enemies. We only have each other.
Our enemies lie before us. We should not look askance at our allies.