Lesley Riddoch: Don't sell yourself short Mrs Sheridan
Gail v George will be a clash of something, but it won't do the politics of the left any favours
GAIL - don't do it.
It's not yet clear if Gail Sheridan will stand as a Solidarity candidate in the forthcoming Holyrood elections - the world must wait until Tommy is sentenced for perjury.
Leaks and counter-leaks suggest Solidarity and George Galloway's Respect parties might have created one joint list with George in pole position and Gail at number two.
The political snag has been disagreement over Solidarity support for Scottish independence. The personal snag has been Galloway's reluctance to refight Tommy's case, as he might well do with Gail on the same party list.
So now, it seems, Mrs Sheridan will stand against Mr Galloway (and the non-celebrity Scottish Socialist Party candidates) splitting the left vote and ensuring none of them can win.
Two "Gorgeous" socialists in battle will create a "colourful" Holyrood election race - especially for the tabloid media both claim to hate. But their image, fame and notoriety will eclipse any chance of serious debate.
Well done the left.
Of course some argue this row is about Gail - not Tommy - and constitutes a plucky, feminist stand against sexism and stereotyping.
George Galloway may well need to be tackled for believing a former "trolley dolly" won't seem credible to the "serious" leftists who witnessed his cat-suit appearance with Rula Lenska on Big Brother.
Does anyone think a battle between two damaged casualties of celebrity culture can produce a victory for feminism?
Opportunism may be the only way a woman like Gail Sheridan can grab profile in an unfair world. Miriam O'Reilly's BBC ageism win supports that case.
Mrs Sheridan is 46 and could represent all experienced, capable woman unfairly airbrushed from public life. Gail is a mother and a fighter. Why shouldn't she stand?
Quite simply, because it's the reputation of Tommy, not Gail Sheridan that's at stake and it's not a cause worth fighting for any longer.
Whatever else he might have got wrong, George Galloway is right about the dead weight of the Sheridan name. It will drag down Gail and any party she represents in May. Of course, in the process, she may gain yet more profile and maybe even grudging respect as Scotland's most stoic and well-dressed wronged wife.
Appearances on Loose Women or I'm a Celebrity may beckon. She may even follow in the footsteps of her husband and political nemesis and appear on Big Brother - in her own right.
What an empty triumph.
TV celebrity is a modern version of the Midas Touch - all that profitable profile comes at the price of yourself. If you still have a sense of your own worth - after all you've been through - guard it carefully, bide your time and do not play second fiddle to your husband.
Of course much of this is just speculation.
News of Gail's Holyrood candidacy has been leaked before she's said a word about it herself. Already though, the story has degenerated into a squabble between two celebrity weans.
Gail complains that George doesn't take her seriously even though she led a British Airways strike.
George complains that Gail doesn't realise he is heir apparent to the socialist throne and shouldn't create competition.
Even the party names now look like ironic parodies of virtuous qualities patently missing from all concerned.
Respect? Solidarity? Not really.
And yet, thanks to these two, the Scottish Socialists will also be decimated in Glasgow. Workers City will produce Tory representatives but no socialists. What a farcical end to what should have been an important development in Scottish politics. Of course, the serious departed the stage a long time ago in the affairs of Messrs Galloway and Sheridan.
George Galloway had an impressive track record as an outspoken (and well-dressed) boss of War on Want in the 80s, an eloquent MP in the 90s and a leftish shock jock on Talk Radio in the noughties. His "ancient" past however has been eclipsed by his recent celebrity - and that is based on saluting the indefatigability of Saddam Hussein and purring like a cat on Big Brother.
Tommy Sheridan worked relentlessly to represent the interests of those marooned in Scotland's massive, hopeless housing estates. He helped end the poll tax and always raised the standard of political debate. He may be justly peeved that George Galloway headed off for London, lived a relatively soft life and has now swanned back to reap the benefits of his hard work.
The loyalty of working class Glaswegians does give pulling power to the Sheridan name. Just as working class Partick sprang to Galloway's defence when he admitted sexual indiscretions many years ago, so working class Glasgow may support a Sheridan now.
If society looks rigged in favour of the rich - and thanks to bankers' bonuses it does - the excluded will not give a stuff about the behaviour of their champions. Indeed, those rejected and jailed by middle class society may seem more truly representative of the underclass.
But the excluded don't vote - not in sufficient numbers to carry a Sheridan plus a Galloway over the finishing line.
The awkward truth is that Tommy, Gail and George are now personalities, not politicians - bigger than any political vehicle they purport to be driving. The fall-out between Gail and George has nothing to do with policy difference and everything to do with ego. The left cannot accept that personality has any place in politics - and so is periodically flattened by it.
If George stands in "Tommy's territory", Gail stands in for Tommy and the SSP doggedly stand against all of them, there will be more tripwires around the "left vote" in Glasgow than a landmine in Iraq. None of the combatants has the courage to admit it but they are now doomed. Holyrood will witness not just the mutually-assured destruction of socialist parties but also the demolition of ideas and loyalties which are not theirs to destroy.
Gail, don't sup at this poisoned well.
Campaign against a voting system whose first-past-the-post constituency section makes it impossible for small parties and community candidates to be elected.
Resist the temptation to tame the uncontrollable force that is TV celebrity and plough your own furrow.
By all accounts, you're worth it.
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