By Jason Michael McCann
We can “rest easy,” tweeted GA Ponsonby, “the Common Space article informing people of the launch of a new ‘left wing’ Scottish Labour website… is ‘flagging’ it.” This was a comment on an earlier tweet from CommonSpace editor Angela “the Tsar” Haggerty in which she claimed Alasdair Clark’s 28 February piece on the launch of the Scottish Labour website The Red Robin was intended to warn left leaning independence supporters of the new site’s agenda; to target and win back the support Labour has lost since the 2014 referendum.
There is, however, no indication of this in the CommonSpace article. Ponsonby’s analysis looks to be spot on. The language is effluviously commendatory throughout, with The Red Robin being introduced as a “distinctive voice” that will – quoting Labour’s own promotion of the site – “find the stories powerful people don’t want you to see.” It even comes complete with a roaring commendation from the new left’s man of the hour, Jeremy Corbyn:
“Our party and our movement is [sic] brimming with ideas and debates about the future. It is out of these discussions that we created our manifesto for the general election last year and will find radical and effective solutions to the great challenges of our times.”
Nowhere in what CommonSpace published is there even the remotest hint that this was intended as a heads-up to the independence movement. Given that it headlines Corbyn, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, and the droll Corbynista election slogan “Change is Coming,” it is no wonder GA Ponsonby read it as a sly pump for a Labour new media outlet in Scotland. He wasn’t alone.
In fact CommonSpace’s tweet advertising the article made no bones about this being a promotion for both Jeremy Corbyn and The Red Robin. Quoting Corbyn, it reads: “I look forward to reading what others think about how Labour can build a Scotland for the many not the few [emphasis added].” This was a Trojan horse promotion. It alerted people not to the threat of a Labour manœuvre, but to the existence of “a new Scottish alternative media outlet which aims to bring news and views from the Scottish Labour party.”
Ms Haggerty’s explicator, then – in the tweet to which GA Ponsonby responded; that The Red Robin “could indicate [Labour are] targeting the indy audience they lost,” is less of an explanation than it is a complete revision of the original intention of the article. She appears to have been attempting to address the overwhelmingly negative response Clark’s article received on social media. In the context of the frosty reception the article got online, GA Ponsonby’s not-too-subtle dig was far from being out of the ordinary.
Yet rather than perhaps addressing the valid concerns and criticisms of the hundreds of independence supporters who kicked back against this article over Twitter and Facebook, Ms Haggerty decided to go on the offensive; taking matters to a disturbing new low. Responding to Ponsonby’s remarks she tweeted:
“Do you think this crazily-obsessed-with-me middle aged guy realises that: A.) That’s just fucking weird dude B.) By his *own logic*, he’s spent the last couple of days doing nothing but “promoting” me by endlessly tweeting and writing articles? Gotta love the internet.”
Ponsonby was again correct in saying that he had appeared to have opened himself up to false and “very sinisterly worded” allegations. Indeed he had.
Let’s ignore the part about “doing nothing” but tweeting and writing articles. This is, after all, the sort of nothing doing by which Angela Haggerty and her comrades at CommonSpace earn their bread. In itself this is a meaningless criticism to make in the age of the internet. It is the part preceding this that we have to focus some attention on.
She frames Ponsonby in three ways; as “crazily-obsessed” with her [again, emphasis added], as a “middle aged guy,” and as a “fucking weird dude.” To describe this as “very sinisterly worded” would be an understatement. The insinuation is obvious.
She is suggesting to her over twenty-thousand followers on Twitter that GA Ponsonby is behaving in a sleazy and sexually predatory way towards her. We’re all adults; we all know what is really meant when a man is described in these terms. She is accusing him of being a stalker, a dirty old man, and a creep. Angela Haggerty has only gone and weaponised the victimhood of women to smear this man with the ugliest of muck, and for what – for daring to do nothing but tweet and write articles criticising CommonSpace?
Ponsonby’s tweet was not a criticism of Haggerty. It was a fair comment on CommonSpace’s apparent promotion of a Labour website, but Haggerty’s response was to blow the ‘stalker whistle’. Who does this? It would seem that Angela does.
Ms Haggerty has not responded to our requests for a comment, but we were fortunate enough to speak with a number of former CommonSpace writers who were quite happy to shed some light on the character of a young woman who would throw such slurs about. “Abusive” was a word that cropped up with remarkable frequency in these discussions.
Women, we were told, suffer the most under her “amateur contrarian” yoke. “Most of us who have left hate her and the place,” said one former staffer of Haggerty and CommonSpace, “all the women who work under [her] feel under huge pressure… always aggression.” All agreed on her being “a bullying sociopath” in a new media shambles where workplace bullying is rife and where the organisation is “paralysed by her.” Angela is, another said, “a person without any consistency or principle beyond shock value.”
This certainly puts CommonSpace and its editor in a wholly different light. As more people across the independence movement begin to seriously question this group’s commitment to our cause, it is important to remind ourselves of the difference between independent or “indy” media and pro-independence media. Promoting the unionist Labour left and platforming its activists under the guise of “alternative” or “progressive” media is many things, but it is not pro-independence media.
When its editor and contributors have regular slots on the BBC – especially considering the wholesale blacklisting of more influential pro-independence writers – we have every right to be suspicious, and all the more so when Haggerty is so willing to vilify her pro-independence critics with dirty accusations. At the very least this carry on betrays the incompetence and naivety of CommonSpace as a new media and the immaturity of its Captain Haggerty. At worst… well, you can draw your own conclusions.Views: 13541