In my piece earlier, I talked about Michael Stewart and those at the BBC who refuse to put him on the air until he adheres to their “editorial standards”, a phrase which loses all meaning when you consider what and who they have allowed onto the air over the years.
It’s amazing what some people in our media consider “standards” to be. The week before last, Keith Jackson was boasting about the integrity and brilliance of the journalists at his paper and the awards they’ve won. They were beyond reproach according to him.
But yesterday, an independent inquiry delivered a verdict to those who filed complaints about Glasgow City councillors who, it was alleged, had acted outside their brief to prevent a Sevco fan zone from going ahead.
All three had denied their involvement in the decision being made, and were forced to beat back wider charges of acting against the club out of spite.
They have been fully vindicated and their accusers made look ridiculous.
One of those accusers was Gary Ralston, of Jackson’s own paper, who had all three of them guilty before a single bit of evidence had been submitted, and was actually pushing their involvement in a wider anti-Ibrox conspiracy. It was moon-howling stuff.
A statement from one of the three councillors summed up the nature of the allegations and the fever which surrounded them at the time.
“These fabricated claims led to sustained, vitriolic abuse that culminated in threats of violence and murder,” David McDonald said. “Social media can be a dangerous place and words have consequences … The orchestrated effort to smear and harass dedicated elected members based on assumptions about their footballing allegiances, even when none exist … must end now.”
Ralston was one of those who banged those drums loudest.
When this story broke around September 2018, he wrote a shocking piece on the affair which assumed the guilt of all involved, and pushed a number of Sevco fan site conspiracy theories about the evils of the SNP.
“The council’s farcical and highly questionable handling of the (Ibrox) fan-zone application, first raised in these pages, has raised serious issues about their integrity and motives and may even have breached the official code of conduct,” he wrote in that month.
He even threw in a little content just for the Sevco forums, much as he did when adding a quote from Follow Follow to the bottom of his article on the Morelos “car tampering”.
“(Ibrox) fans have pointed a finger at the Celtic leanings of McDonald and Dornan and tweets from the former have been crass and ill-fitting of someone in public office,” he said, painting a nice big target on the backs of both men.
In November 2018 he did a podcast with the Sevco blogger McFarlane in which he repeated a number of wild conspiracy theories that had been circulating on the forums, and called the whole affair “murky”. He then theorised that Glasgow City Council’s “anti Ibrox” stance might result in the club being unable to proceed with plans for “Rangers 150 anniversary celebrations” … a dire allegation considering that the club is dead and the plans remain un-submitted and the costings are likely to be unrealisable pie-in-the-sky.
He repeated many of these allegations, and went even further, in May last year.
Citing what he called “grubby democracy”, he wasn’t even two paragraphs into the piece where he labelled his first paranoid allegation, swept from the floor of Sevco’s nuttier forums. “How can SNP council leader Susan Aitken promote the country’s biggest city as a centre of sport when she has a major issue with one of its major football institutions?”
And he was just getting warmed up.
“Aitken’s lack of discipline and political nous and the vibe of recklessness she has given off in her dealings with (Sevco) – like Celtic, a major employer in the city – discredits her office,” he wrote. Well, you tell me who emerges from this with credit now?
“Aitken and McDonald have never given a convincing response to claims they intervened in the application at a meeting on August 1, outside of due process for a quasi-judicial hearing,” he wrote, a convoluted sentence I’ve read about 100 times and still don’t properly understand, except in that it makes a false allegation.
Because both Aitken and McDonald did explain it … it’s just that Ralston and a bunch of slavering goons simply refused to accept that explanation because it didn’t suit the narrative they were far more comfortable in promoting in the place of the truth.
Ralston’s conduct here has been a disgrace.
He and his newspaper owe those elected officials an apology, and if the BBC can give Jim Traynor one when Michael Stewart essentially had it right, then the least The Record can do is offer one when they and their star boy – who should stick to writing puff-pieces about his favourite Ibrox players – got it so wrong.