Tommy Sheridan: From Hero to Zero?
A Political Biography
'A timely and rigorous biography of
Scotland's most flawed politician'
Paul Hutcheon, The Sunday Herald
comprehensive biography examines what makes the ex-socialist
'a balanced and thoroughly
''This is the...biography
that Sheridan tried to ban...[but] Gall's book is as fair as
anyone...is likely to be"
George Kerevan, The Scotsman
remarkably objective and balanced work. It is also extremely
well written and presented...minutely researched and, given its
scope, decidedly easy to read and follow.
Weekly Worker, Communist Party of Great Britain, May 2012
'This is not only a
biography of one of the most fascinating political figures in
recent times but an important contribution to our understanding
of left politics. Tommy
Sheridan was an iconic figure who divided opinion and will
provoke intense feelings well into the future.
This balanced study sets the Sheridan phenomenon in its
wider socio-economic context.
Sheridan the man, the myth and the political activist are
explored in relationship to each other.
This book is an important contribution to understanding
the lessons from the wreckage of one of the most fascinating
figures of modern Scottish politics.'
Professor James Mitchell, School of
Government and Public Policy,
University of Strathclyde
'This is an
important story that needs to be told, retold and understood. It
reflects not just on the central actors and the wider array of
participants, but all of us. And it should give us cause to
pause and reflect to fully consider its lessons. This is a
morality tale of modern Scotland, of the power and limits of
personality politics, the role of charisma, belief and hubris;
the inherent weakness in hyper-left politics, and the role of a
certain kind of Scottish man. The rise and fall of Tommy
Sheridan and the Scottish Socialist Party is a gripping tale,
worthy of fiction, and one which touches on many aspects of
Gerry Hassan, from the Foreword
Tommy Sheridan scaled the
political heights, achieving something quite remarkable. He
became the best known and most widely respected socialist leader
in the post-war period in Scotland. As a radical socialist, he
became the second most famous living Scot. He became an icon, a
voice for the voiceless. And, he led the Scottish Socialist
Party to its historic breakthrough in the 2003 Scottish
Parliament election, gate crashing its way into the political
But in a very short space of
time, the achievements of a lifetime were thrown away and all
the progress put into reverse. From being jailed for fighting
Thatcher's hated poll tax, he ended up back in jail for
The supreme irony is that
Tommy landed himself back in jail as a disgraced socialist at
the very time when he was most needed to help lead resistance to
the Westminster government's public service spending cuts following the
crisis of neo-liberalism. He was not there to help turn it into
another poll tax revolt.
Why did he throw this all
away? Was it, as the media alleged, because he was an egotist,
delusional and arrogant? Was it because, as he alleged, he was
stitched up by an unholy alliance of the state, News
International and his former comrades?
This biography tells the story
of the socialist who had it all but who was attracted to risk
like a moth to a light. Tommy always played for political high
stakes but only on the basis of strategic calculation.
Taking the News of the World to court over allegations that were substantially
true seemed like madness. But Tommy knew that if he did not do
so and win, the floodgates would be open to further lurid
stories about his sex life. This would then damage his carefully
cultivated persona of the clean living man. And that would do
untold damage to him as a socialist politician.
He played and won in 2006. He
played and lost in 2010. The biography explains why he became
this risk taker, why he succeeded for so long but why,
ultimately, he over-reached himself.
Gall is Research Professor of Industrial Relations at the
University of Hertfordshire.
He lives in Edinburgh and was previously Professor of
Industrial Relations at the University of Stirling. He
researches and writes primarily about unions and industrial
relations, with a particular interest in the labour movement and
the politics of Scotland. He is author of The
Political Economy of Scotland: Red Scotland?
Radical Scotland? (University of Wales Press, 2005)
and a frequent contributor to the Morning
Star, the Guardian's
'Comment is free' and a member of the editorial board
of the Scottish Left