Angela Haggerty

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet rarely misses when she takes aim.

Here she hits out at the Herald newspaper “pandering to the mob”.

Everyone on Planet Fitba knows who the mob are.

Since the death of Rangers in 2012, there has been a seething rage in the Light Blue corner that a terrible wrong was done to them.

All then that was required was for you to be denounced as ‘a hater’ and the hate could come your way.

Yesterday I asked a veteran Scottish journalist to recall the Satanic Verses controversy.

I then asked him to name the book editor who had worked on Salman Rushdie’s manuscript.

Of course, only insiders in the publishing world would know such a detail, but the point was made.

Ms Angela Haggerty was brought to the attention of this mob because of me.

Consequently, I continue to feel a large measure of guilt over what she has to endure.

Her work as a book editor on the manuscript of Downfall brought praise from veterans in the publishing business.

When people have a problem with a tome, the hierarchy of blame usual goes from the author to the publisher and then perhaps to a bookstore chain.

However, it stops there.

In the furore over the Sun serialisation of Downfall Ms Haggerty defended the book and slammed the decision of the tabloid to cave into the mob.

I have often wondered if her gender was something especially galling for the mob.

It is certainly the case that the online abuse she receives is very gender specific.

Perhaps there is something in the macho world of The People that cannot abide a confidently opinionated woman.

That she certainly is, but she is also a person.

At the last Delegate Meeting of the National Union of Journalists in 2014 Ms Haggerty was there as a branch delegate. She spoke well from the podium about her experience as a victim of the Rangers mob but froze into silence at one point.

She later told me it was at that moment she was back in the place and was feeling the terror of being ‘Taig of the Day’ on the Rangers Chat podcast.

Mr David Limond, the Rangers Chat chap, was sentenced to six months in prison on January 2014 for threatening Ms Haggerty.

Once more her ‘crime’ in the eyes of the mob was to edit a book.

Moreover, the book, foreword written by award-winning TV journalist Alex Thomson, is entirely factual.

The clue is in the title: Downfall. How Rangers FC self-destructed.

It was a downfall, and it was entirely self-inflicted.

I was delighted when Ms Haggerty was given a column in the Sunday Herald and wrote that here.

It was clear to me that the appointment was imaginative and thoroughly deserved.

In a trade stuffed full of middle-aged men there are too few women, let alone young women, in prominent positions in the media.

However, she told me that shortly after she had been hired that there had been an online petition set up by some dignified chap to have her fired.

This was before she had written her first column!

It is my settled view that the circumstances of her dismissal does that organisation serious reputational damage in the eyes of many journalists.

The optics of this affair are not good for that newspaper group or for Magnus Llewellin, Editor-in-Chief.

I do not know who actually took the decision and who was merely following orders, but I do not believe that it was a reasoned or calmly arrived at course of action.

However, like the death of Rangers, it has been entirely self-inflicted by those in charge of that once respected Blatt.

Here in Bella Caledonia, she points out to the crushing irony of the subject of her last piece for the Sunday Herald.

It is clear to me, and to the several NUJ colleagues that I canvassed, that there is indeed a mob at large.

This gang is a self-selecting collective which apparently feels culturally authorised to operate a de facto blacklist of journalists.

The mob resides within the tens of thousands who lustily sang ‘The Billy Boys’ during the last home match of 2015.

There is sanguine view abroad that the Sevco mob represents the death rattle of an old culture.

This narrative states that the world view shared by that sub-section of the Ibrox home crowd does not have a long-term cultural future in the new Scotland.

However, the mob have other ideas and like such malevolent throngs they cannot be reasoned with.

Indeed, they can only be stopped.

This socially necessary task will require large of numbers of people in Scotland to act with good authority.

The events at the Herald last week made the job more difficult.

A journalist never wants to become the story.

However, when the freedom of the press is at stake, sometimes there is no choice.

The mob do not know Angela Haggerty, but I do.

In this, I have the advantage over them.

In the age of the venal stenographer, she actually believes in the value of genuine journalism.

The NUJ have been unequivocal in their condemnation of the mob.

If others decide to stay safely silent, then they are unwitting allies of the mob.

Moreover, if the Fitba Fourth Estate cowers under the table on this one; then they do not just fail as journalists.

They also fail as men.

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