Simplistic Socialism That Will Not Work

Article excerpt

Byline: ALLAN MASSIE

TOMMY SHERIDAN is one of the very few politicians on The Mound to enjoy widespread public recognition. This is partly because he appears so often on television.

Producers love him. He is at ease on the box and is always likely to say something lively and provocative.

His Scottish Socialist Party is still tiny, with very little influence outside Glasgow, yet Mr Sheridan has to be considered a national, rather than local, figure.

In the last parliament he was a one-man band. But the polls predict his party may pick up some list seats in May's election - perhaps even as many as eight, eclipsing the Tories.

This was possible even before the war which he has so vigorously opposed, urging British troops to mutiny. This stance may win him votes, as his press officer Hugh Kerr has boasted, or it may not. It depends on the progress of the war. There is evidence of mounting support for the conflict, despite its slow progress.

People respect Mr Sheridan, even when they disagree with him, because he is 'sincere'. But this is not necessarily the best way to judge a politician.

There have been few more 'sincere' politicians than Adolf Hitler. Much good his sincerity did Germany or, indeed, the world.

Mr Sheridan stands, we are told, for old- style socialism. This is true, up to a point. He stands for the worst sort of socialism, that which has its roots in envy and nothing else.

'Soak the rich' is his cry.

Mr Sheridan first came to prominence as an opponent of the Poll Tax. His position was respectable, his method was not. He called for non-payment - that is, breaking the law. A politician who advocates selective lawbreaking gives hostages to fortune.

Suppose he became First Minister and implemented his party's fiscal policies. These include a Scottish Service Tax that would see any household with two working adults paying at least an extra 5 per cent of their income to local councils.

SUPPOSE you refused to pay this. What could the new First Minister say if you argued that you were merely following his example? Mr Sheridan talks of standing up for the working class.

But really his party's policies would be bad for those who work hard and seek to do well by their families.

They would benefit only the nonworking class, those who depend on the state for most or all of their income. There would be no benefit for the self-reliant, and no incentive to escape from the dependency culture. Quite the opposite: by making dependency more comfortable, Mr Sheridan would perpetuate it.

His policies may seem compassionate, but it is a false compassion - his latest brainwave, to give the unemployed free Old Firm tickets, is a case in point. …