Why the urge to rehabilitate Tommy Sheridan?

Something odd is going on.

In recent days, Bella Caledonia has published two pieces that effectively seek to rehabilitate Tommy Sheridan:

  1. Robin McAlpine: Hope Over Fear?
  2. Jordan Daly & Liam Stevenson: Hope Over History: How the Past is Affecting the Future

Why are they defending Sheridan?

I don’t know who the authors of the second piece are, but I know that McAlpine is a key force behind CommonWeal – a very good organisation, with excellent people involved.

I commented on McAlpine’s posting to affirm a critical comment someone else made, but with the second posting, I thought it worth adding a more substantive comment.  Aware that comments often get lost on a site as popular as Bella (there are already 184 comments on McAlpine’s text as I write this, and 20 on Daly and Stevenson’s text!), I thought I’d also add it here:

Involving Tommy Sheridan [in an event] automatically excludes those of us who have any concern about the welfare of the people – and in particular women – who have been so very badly treated by him, including folk I know. His behaviour is sexist, misogynistic and completely unacceptable. He shows no remorse for anything he has said or done in this regard.

May I ask: had his behaviour been characterised as racist rather than sexist, would you still be so happy to have him involved? Would that kind of abusive behaviour be acceptable to you? If not, why not? And if it would be, where DO you draw the line? Or don’t you think a line needs to be drawn?

To speak of “an age where things were pretty different” is a nonsense: what was sexism, misogyny and lies then is still sexism, misogyny and lies today. A refusal by Sheridan to show any remorse is at the root of many people’s avoidance of him. Your defence (or the patronising nonsense from McAlpine a few days ago saying it was all about class) is simply a way to excuse a misogynist who has single-handedly, through his lies and manipulation, done more damage to the Scottish left than any of us who refuse to now engage with him.

Nobody is asking for angels who never make a mistake. But to excuse behaviour that he has never even pretended to acknowledge was harmful is to communicate that it’s ok to be abusive and tell lies.

Something odd is going on.

Or maybe it’s not so odd.  Maybe it’s just a reflection of how patriarchy and sexism pollutes every part of our society, even amongst progressives on the left?

It certainly looks like that to me.  We know that much of our society simply accepts men’s violence towards women, so maybe these articles are just a depressing recognition that a sexist, misogynist, lying man can readily be welcomed back into the ‘progressive fold’ by other men, provided he says some of the right things on ‘more important issues’ than sexism and gender-based violence?


A day after posting this, I shared it again on Twitter:

A tetchy response from Bella Caledonia followed, but they did agree to post a link to this blog, and I’m grateful to them for doing so:

It’s interesting that Bella see what they have done as ‘hosting a discussion’ when they have only provided two articles exonerating Sheridan.  The explanation (see the replies to my tweet) was that they had only published what they had been sent – but surely on such a contentious issue they should also be seeking out opposing views?  This kind of defence is one that people on the left, including Bella, criticise the BBC and others for all the time.  How often do we hear ‘we could only find a banker and a hedge fund manager to discuss the financial crisis’ – and no trade unionist or socialist commentator is used?  Equally, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail have lots of discussion – almost all between people on the right (or the far right!).  Bella has grown to become a prominent actor in Scottish media, and that brings with it certain responsibilities.

All that being said, I do have a high regard for Bella, and read and share their articles regularly – and I would encourage readers to do so too.


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