Scotland & the Lockerbie Ruling
It’s perhaps doubtful whether the Libyan people – and economy – will recover from the shock of the withdrawal of a trade visit from Prince Andrew, as reported in the Torygraph today. When other countries want to pressurise in foreign relations they withdraw diplomatic links or impose sanctions, England delays the arrival of an inbred halfwit.
“I was a member of the prisons commission that MacAskill set up on his appointment as justice secretary – charged with finding out why Scotland imprisons twice as many people as our neighbours Ireland and Norway. He accepted our recommendations in full and the controversial policy of a seismic shift towards community payback has already begun amid a hail of media brickbats suggesting the SNP has adopted a “thug’s” charter.
It’s clear the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has soured relations between Scotland and America. But perhaps, in the long run, the release decision will have a longer-lasting impact in the domestic arena, where the SNP wants to put clear blue policy water between itself and England. Kenny MacAskill’s decision to choose the compassionate rather than the punitive option regarding Megrahi’s release didn’t come from nowhere.”
The point she makes is a simple one, that MacAskill’s decision is consistent with previous and recent policies he has initiated and comes on the back of politically unpopular – but correct – decisions on policing and sentencing. In an era of spin, political merger and wafer-thin Blair – Brown – Cameron populism, this is refreshing. In the face of the bile, thinly disguised racism and general howling of anti-Scottish mock outrage (read the comments following Riddochs piece and Fraser Nelsons error-strewn drivel at the Spectator here) my respect for MacAskill grows rather than diminishes. What is more surprising, and has been forgotten in the avalanche of criticism of the Justic Minister is that he made this as a minority government with a crucial by-election beckoning and a referendum around the corner.
Moreover, as one contributor to the Scotsman has pointed out, ‘just a wee reminder to put some perspective on all of the unionist hand wringing’: “In early June 2007, just few weeks after the SNP entered government, it emerged that Tony Blair, the then prime minister, had struck a “deal in the desert” with Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi on judicial co-operation between the two countries. A livid Alex Salmond told MSPs the agreement covered “law, extradition and prisoner transfer”. Although Westminster insisted this was not aimed at transferring Megrahi home, it was hard to imagine the UK’s most famous Libyan prisoner had been overlooked.
That Blair’s visit coincided with BP signing a £450 million oil contract with Libya fuelled suspicions that Megrahi was part of diplomatic horse-trading between London and Tripoli. Westminster would later tell Edinburgh apologetically that, actually, Lockerbie was covered by the deal, much to Salmond’s fury.” Sunday Herald, August 21, 2009