Another guest post today: freelance journalist Catriona MacPhee assesses Tommy’s claims and his place in history.

As Tommy Sheridan was sent down yesterday for perjury, so concluded the tale of how socialism’s great hero became its executioner. If it’s true that the main problem with socialism is that it’s full of socialists, then the past four months have also been a lesson in how clichés are made.

The final instalment of this live Glasgow soap opera saw the golden boy of the left, who once masterminded a socialist renaissance in Scotland and created a foundation that could have changed the course of Scottish history, complete the full transformation into that which he abhors.

In belittling the mentally ill (Oh, depression you say? *eye brow raise in the jury’s direction*), patronising the weak (I said page 23, do you understand what page 23 means? Can you do that for me? *rolls eyes at the trembling witness *) and besmirching the sometime sex workers and reformed criminals he used to extol as victims of society (Jurors, can you really trust the word of a man who was convicted of a minor crime when he was16? *aside: never mind the fact I chose him as my best man*), he employed the very prejudices that tyrannise the working class.

There are of course lots of conspiracy theories surrounding the case, and going down the ‘does the end justify the means?’ route may have elicited some sympathy for Tommy. He told me in an interview in 2006 that ‘when the News of the World attacks a socialist then there is only one side of the fence for socialists to be on and that’s with the socialists’. I noted at the time that the truth seemed an after thought.

Would wounding the News of the World and the Murdoch empire justify lying in court and sacrificing colleagues and friends, possibly even the whole movement?

To an ardent socialist like Tommy, maybe. The problem with this defence is that the court case wasn’t, despite his greatest assertions, a battle of socialism versus capitalism or working men versus the anti-trade union rags. His underhand attacks on the witnesses during cross-examination, with tones reminiscent of Daily Mail headlines, were proof enough of that. It was personal and only his name was at stake. To view it any other way is to indulge Tommy’s delusions of grandeur.

It looked increasingly as though any assertion of honourable motivation was a cynical smoke screen from behind which he could take vicious and opportunistic swipes at his former comrades. His battle cry of defending the public’s rights to justice (etc) was at complete odds with his own tactics. And when the means begin to justify the means, the battle’s already lost.

Tommy Sheridan’s story is not a totally unfamiliar tale though. Throughout centuries of history, a recurrent pattern has emerged with most socialist and communist movements. When boiled down, most fail, arguably, because of man’s ego-driven weakness for power and greed, both qualities that happily accommodate paranoia. It is mankind’s greatest flaw and no matter how much we progress, we seem doomed to bloodshed, metaphorically or otherwise, by this intrinsic characteristic.

In Tommy’s case it was the pursuits of the ego. These pursuits in a sex club were what triggered the beginning of the end of Tommy Sheridan and latterly what drove the main star in a show that drew larger and larger audiences every day. For the unemployed and bored, to the just plain nosy and on a lunch break, the court house became the best show in town, with Lord Bracadale having to remind the patrons of the public gallery at one stage not to climb over seats in their attempt to secure a good spot in the queue for the next round.

There is no doubt Tommy Sheridan has secured his place in Scottish history books, but it will be for all the wrong reasons. There is no credible socialist party left in Scotland and it will be a long time before the socialist movement sheds the legacy of this saga. It’s an outcome that no one would have predicted seven years ago when six SSP politicians were elected to the Scottish parliament and Tommy Sheridan was compared to the legendary John MacLean.

Sadly, today Tommy Sheridan, as the maker of his own misfortune, begins a prison sentence with only his ego for company.