[Marxism] Tommy Sheridan "scandal" or SSP leadership malfunction?

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Dec 1 09:50:55 MST 2004

The following is from the Encyclopedia Britannica online edition.  The
article on Parnell, excerpted here, is by Conor Cruise O'Brien, a
competent historian but no friend of the Irish liberation movement.

Obviously, I am submitting this because I frankly feel something is
amiss here, not only in the response of the sects who jump on this kind
of thing to prove the logic of nationalism and so on, but because it's
hard to avoid a strong sense that something is amiss in the SSP if
Sheridan has been forced out of the leadership because of personal
entanglements.  That IN ITSELF would be bad politics, leaving aside what
other political motivations there might be, and could make the SSP
subject to all kinds of disruption operations.

Of course, I don't know enough facts, but the few we have are beginning
to point in a possibly unhealthy direction.

Fred Feldman

Parnell, Charles Stewart, 1846-91

Irish nationalist, member of the Irish Parliament (1875-91), and the
leader of the struggle for Irish Home Rule in the late 19th century....

Parnell's fall

On Dec. 24, 1889, Captain O'Shea filed a petition for divorce, naming
Parnell as corespondent. Although Parnell's liaison had been known to
some members of the Irish party, nationalist Ireland in general took it
that the proceedings represented another attempt to wreck Home Rule.
This was given colour by the fact that O'Shea was a follower of
JosephChamberlain. The theory that there were political motives behind
the divorce proceedings is not necessarily false. The suit being
undefended, the court returned a verdict against Parnell and Katherine
O'Shea on Nov. 17, 1890.

The initial reaction of the Irish public was to uphold Parnell. In
Britain, however, Nonconformist opinion was so hostile that the Irish
parliamentary party found itself in an agonizing dilemma. Parnell was
determined to hold the leadership and defy Gladstone. If the party
upheld Parnell they would be destroying the Liberal alliance, and with
it the hopes of Home Rule in their generation. If they rejected Parnell,
they would be turning against him at the bidding of an Englishman. After
a long and emotional debate, the majority rejected his leadership; a
sizable minority remained with him.

There followed a series of bitter electoral campaigns. The Roman
Catholic hierarchy, although slow to pronounce, now declared Parnell
morally unfit for leadership. His marriage toKatherine O'Shea in June
1891 exacerbated Catholic opposition. He himself displayed feverish
energy and increasing recklessness, directing his appeal more and more
to the revolutionary elements. This appeal left a deep impression on the
young but was rejected by the majority of the nation. When his principal
ally, the nationalist Freeman'sJournal, fell to his enemies shortly
after his marriage, his cause was clearly lost. He died at his wife's
home in Brightonin October 1891 and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery,
Dublin. The city, Parnellite to the end, gave him a magnificent funeral.

Conor Cruise O'Brien 

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