Former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan’s appearance on Celebrity Big Brother is a pretty depressing business.
I only had to watch for a few minutes (doubling my total Big Brother viewing history) to feel queasy about a middle-aged man trying hard to sound interesting for the viewers while flirting with much younger women on the show. But that wasn’t the really depressing bit.
Nor was it the large amount of money Sheridan is being paid for his appearance — rumoured at £100,000 — violating his old worker’s wage principle, though he hasn’t disclosed the figure.
What really got me down was thinking about how, in the early 1980s, a young Tommy Sheridan set out to change the world, committing his life to fighting for a socialist revolution — and yet, through the political trajectory of Militant and the SSP, started on a path that ended like this.
When George Galloway appeared on Big Brother, without consulting his comrades in Respect, it told you a lot about his politics and way of operating — but it was hardly a break from the past. Sheridan, on the other hand, has clearly degenerated fast — from a respect-worthy class-struggle activist with deeply flawed politics, to someone whose flaws have consumed his political activism.
A sad reminder: we need to build a socialist movement based on ideas and democratic, collective organisation — not one relying on ‘big names’ like Sheridan for whom self-promotion ultimately comes above the class struggle.