The return of Citizen Tommy ...

Independence debate with main speaker Tommy Sheridan.  Photo by Walter Neilson

Independence debate with main speaker Tommy Sheridan. Photo by Walter Neilson

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The skirl of the bagpipes could be heard in the streets surrounding St Bryce Kirk - yep, Tommy Sheridan was back in town.

Citizen Tommy had been invited to speak by members of the ‘Yes’ campaign on why he intended to vote for independence this September, after delivering a memorable and impassioned speech at an anti-bedroom tax rally in Templehall last year.

A large crowd had gathered to hear the controversial former MSP give his talk.

And regardless of whether you agreed with him or not, very few would have left feeling unimpressed.

This was my first time seeing Sheridan in the flesh and I was expecting an angry rant full of clichéd left-wing platitudes - more fool me.

This was no “loony leftie” as frequently portrayed in the media.

He spoke eloquently, backing up all his points with facts and figures if required with barely an “um” or “eh” in the whole 90 minutes that he spoke.

There were also a few light-hearted quips as well: “We’ve more pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs” he pointed out.

In the main, the independent Scotland that Sheridan outlined, whilst freely admitting that there are many unanswered questions was one of a kinder society that would attempt to banish inequality, help the poor and give us “the chance to do things differently”.

Of course, not everybody was swayed by such a rosy vision; “We still can’t afford it” someone said to me as the crowd began to leave, (none of whom had chosen to heckle during the evening, much to my disappointment!) whilst another formed around Sheridan who waited and spoke to each one in turn.

Yes, he’s an easy target due to his fondness for controversial statements and of course, his prison sentence for perjury will remain an albatross that he will never be able to shake off, but make no mistake, this is a extremely intelligent man with a sharp mind who is also a brilliant public speaker.

Plus, it’s only fair to point out that Sheridan made his own way through from Glasgow and received no fee of any kind.

Next month his friend, but opponent in the independence debate, George Galloway brings his ‘Just Say Naw’ tour to the Kingdom.

Read a full report on the meeting at www.fifetoday.co.uk.