I found Mark Scott's article on the Left's chances of progress in May's general election intriguing, well-written, well-meaning, and entirely wrong in terms of Realpolitik and on matters of fact.
I was involved at the heart of Socialist politics in Scotland for some years, serving in the collective leadership of the Scottish Socialist party between 2014 and 2015, and standing for election as a Socialist candidate in the East End of Glasgow, so perhaps I can be of some assistance in clarifying some of Mark's conclusions which, as he says, have been gleaned through watching from afar.
Firstly, he correctly observes that any electoral alliance with the Scottish Green party is a non-starter. This is not because such an alliance would be electorally unsuccessful, but because the Greens have calculated that their chances of success are better without the baggage of Scotland's socialist parties.
Furthermore, while the Greens, as a party, support independence and were a valued part of the Yes campaign, there is a strong Unionist undercurrent in the party. Former leader, Robin Harper campaigned actively for a No vote, while between a third and 40% of the membership backed the Unionists. In many constituencies, the local Greeens refused to campaign for a Yes vote.
In the run-up to the 2014 European election, the Greens and Socialists had talks about a Red-Green alliance. The Greens vision of this was a Green party candidate, with Socialists delivering their leaflets. There was no consideration, on their side, given to any sort of candidate selection process. It is my opinion that the Greens negotiated in bad faith, stringing the Socialist party along to ensure that it would be too late for the Socialists to get their act together and stand a candidate. Ultimately, the Greens, without Socialist support, fell short, resulting in the election of a fascist MEP in the final slot.
However, that is water under the bridge, albeit that my understanding is now that the Socialist leadership would be wary in the extreme of conducting such negotiations with the Greens again. And in the short term, the Greens don't need it - opinion polling has them winning up to ten MSPs in May and potentially becoming at least the fourth, and possibly the third, party.
Should the SNP fall short of a majority, they would be the likeliest candidate for a coalition partner, with excellent, dedicated minds in Government. This dilution of SNP hegemony would be a most positive development in Scottish politics - majority government invariably produces poor government, and insular decision-making.
Much more important, though, is the latest in a series of siren calls for the inclusion of "Solidarity" in any Left electoral alliance.
Mark states that if the party was excluded from the alliance, there will be the same old vote split. Let us be clear on the understanding, here. Solidarity does not need to stand in this election. If it wanted to avoid splitting the Left vote, it is at perfect liberty to stand down. It is completely at liberty to seek an agreement on standing in some areas in return for standing down in others.
But Solidarity is not interested in that. Why? Because their raison d'être is to split the Socialist vote. Tommy Sheridan, the perjurer and misogynist who rules the party, was quite explicit - on the front page of that renowned friend of Independence and the Workers, the Daily Record - that his political motivation was to "destroy" the "scabs" of the Socialist party.
The exclusion of Tommy Sheridan from the mainstream radical Left is not a "personal vendetta". It is because the guiding force of Socialism in Scotland must be to treat all of the children of the nation with equal dignity and respect. If that is not our crusade, then what is?
The Socialist movement in Scotland is responsible for, and has been left badly wanting in the past in, providing a safe space for women to take part in politics. It is not enough to tolerate women.
We must be a progressive, feminist movement, not just grudgingly open to, but actively seeking to promote, women in politics.
A space in which Tommy Sheridan is present cannot be a safe space for women. Because of Tommy Sheridan's actions in using his position of leadership to achieve sexual dominance over young women for his gratification; because of the behaviour of Tommy Sheridan in causing a situation in which a woman was cross-examined about her most intimate relationships in the High Court in front of the global media, Mr Sheridan disqualified himself from access to any movement or organisation which seems to be a safe space for women.
I bow to none in my admiration for Tommy Sheridan's oratorical skills. He is a fine public speaker. He can rouse a crowd like no other man in Scottish politics. But if we, as a movement, disregard his treatment of women because of his talent as a speaker, then what we do is to prioritise what he can do for us over the damage that his presence will cause those who have suffered at his hands.
Mr Sheridan has divided every movement of which he has been a part. He took the most successful Socialist movement in Scotland in generations to a husk. He divided the anti-Bedroom Tax movement, inveigling himself into it and splitting it. On being refused access to the Yes campaign, he sought to split that by launching his own rival pro-Independence campaign, Hope Over Fear.
When the SNP won't give him a platform, when the Left Project, Radical Independence, Yes Scotland and the Scottish Socialists won't countenance his involvement, isn't that a clue that the cordon sanitaire isn't a failure on the part of 99% of the mainstream, but of failures of Mr Sheridan's bevahiour?
The Left in Scotland has many structural and systemic problems which stop us from gaining the influence Scotland's working class needs us to have. A lack of money, a lack of direction and leadership, a lack of trust internally, and a carefully-forstered division by the enemies of the working-class in infiltrating Socialist movements in Scotland with the intent - successfully - that we speak within ourselves rather than to those who have no voice and desperately need us to be their voice are all amongst them.
The inclusion of a misogynist and criminal who leads a tiny party which has never won a seat in any election ever is not a reason, much less the reason, for our continued failure and irrelevance.
We have much to discuss, and we must discuss our future in a comradely fashion, always with the goal of representing our communities and rising with our class out of penury and poverty.
But Tommy Sheridan cannot be party to that discussion. We can have unity, or Mr Sheridan. We can provide a safe space for all members of our society, or we can have Mr Sheridan. But we cannot have both. The circle cannot be squared.
If Mr Sheridan wishes to assist the workers of Scotland in throwing off our shackles, the best thing he could do would be to absent himself from the public discouse and the public consciousness. His time has been and gone.
His treatment of women renders him unsuitable to participate in our great class struggle. He is a distraction. A fine orator, and a wasted talent. But the fault is Mr Sheridan's.
He must recognise the damage he has done, and he should atone for it.
And for those who will inevitably talk about forgiveness and second chances: its not for me, or for anyone else other than those he abused and traduced, to forgive the man. But surely, to win that forgiveness, he must first show at least the smallest degree of contrition for his actions.