Leading article: Long time coming

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Some people do not know when to shut up. At the end of the longest perjury trial in Scottish legal history, the defendant, Tommy Sheridan, decided to subject the Glasgow High Court jury to a five-hour closing defence speech that stretched over two days.

Perhaps the former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party was attempting to emulate another famously long-winded leftist, Fidel Castro. The Cuban leader spoke for seven hours and 10 minutes at the Communist Party Congress in 1986.

But that is relatively modest compared to some speeches. The late US Senator Strom Thurmond spoke in Congress for 24 hours and 18 minutes in 1957 in an attempt to filibuster a civil rights bill to death. And the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, spoke for 36 hours and 31 minutes over six days in 1927. They should have listened to President Franklin Roosevelt, who had the right idea about political speeches: "Be sincere, be brief, be seated."

The Glasgow jury managed to get their revenge on Mr Sheridan, convicting him yesterday. What a pity that other audiences who have been subjected to such cruel punishments have been denied the satisfaction of sending their tormentors to jail.

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