Tuesday, 25 August 2009

A wee tidying-up

Eloquence is not found to be wanting in Scotland. On the subject of the Megrahi decision, allow me to point to a couple of things which have caught my attention.

My old friend with an unhealthy interest in bicycles has an exquisite rant, including this finely turned phraseology -
I’m fed up listening to ill-informed pundits and self-righteous gobshites telling us how the Scots judicial system has to be run.
Then there's the chap or chapess (I'm not entirely clear) who has an unhealthy interest in peat giving a more leisurely-paced view, including the admonition -
Don’t just bore the hell out of everyone with your gloating critiques and the flattering supposition that all ills would be corrected, if only the august person of Richard Baker or Bill Aitken had been in the Justice Secretary’s office, or Iain Gray was tucked up in Bute House.

There's a chap with an unhealthy interest in Livingston writing like a liberal (for any of my good friends from across the Atlantic taking an interest, that's a compliment not an insult), including -

"I think most opinion in Scotland is in favour of the decision to release him [Megrahi] on compassionate grounds."

Now that is the sort of considered, public listened to response I would expect from a Liberal Democrat leader. Unfortunately they were the words of Lord David Steel our former leader and not those of Tavish Scott who asked in the chamber:
"Doesn't Kenny MacAskill's comment on the need for Scottish compassion mean that no prisoner - however bad their crime - will ever have a request turned down?"

Do all Livvy fans seek an end to the fitba match, one wonders ...

It's a pity, I think, that there are not more people espousing true liberalism, it's an important point of view. Unfortunately, too many who should be liberals tend to knee-jerk authoritarianism, even in ignorance -
I wasn't going to blog about this today given I did not watch or hear the debate, however I have sat and read many reports from people there and just want to comment on a few things.

Dignity restored, though, by a lady with an unhealthy interest in ... um .... musing (ach, cut me some slack) and another liberal -
Let me tell you what I don't want done in my name:
Slagging Kenny MacAskill and the SNP for the outrageous scenes in Libya which greeted Megrahi's return. It was obvious that it would happen, despite, as MacAskill said, requests to the Libyans for them to behave with a bit of restraint, but you don't base a decision on an application for compassionate release on the expected actions of a foreign government. You would think from what was said in Parliament that he'd sent John Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon to take the saltires to Tripoli themselves. Just stop it, please.

A chap with no unhealthy interests at all pointed us to more reasoned opinion in the US, and he notes that -
While the American relatives and the US government have strongly criticised the decision, it is interesting to note that this is not front page news in the USA. Apparently most of the main newspapers carry the story on inside pages. So perhaps the opposition in America is not as strong or as uniform as we are led to believe.

A chap in the capital opines -
true justice cannot be served by allowing emotions to cloud decision-making.

A chap in Glasgow seems unable to find the answers -
The point of his speech was not actually in what he said but so that he could be questioned by parliament and it was his answers that mattered and on this he was incredibly evasive.

Then there was the fellow with the unhealthy appetite for bitterness hoping to play roulette with the final days of a man's life -
Distasteful though it is to speculate on the life expectancy of a dying man - the reality is that if he exceeds the life expectancy which presumably influenced MacAskill's decision then he is left high and dry.
Given that the Minister's argument centred on the humanity of releasing a man with only months to live, should the said individual live for six months or more if his condition responds to treatment, then its difficult to see how SCotland's Justice Minister can remain in post.That is the harsh reality.

Then the Greens with a considered news release -
Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, today backed calls for a full public inquiry into the conviction as well as the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi. While supporting the decision taken by the Justice Secretary to grant release on compassionate grounds, Greens believe there are many questions still to be answered. Patrick Harvie today urged the UK Government to initiate a full public inquiry to examine the case, including the UK Government's negotiations with Libya and others around the decision to release Mr Megrahi, and all aspects concerning the original conviction.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:"Compassionate release is a normal part of the Scottish justice system, and Kenny Macaskill's decision was the right one. The UK Government and the Americans are both normalising relations with Libya, who, we are told, commissioned the attack on Pan Am Flight 103. If Tony Blair can take tea and sign oil deals with Colonel Gaddafi, who paid a settlement for the crime he apparently ordered, justice does not demand a dying man be held until the end for carrying out those orders.
"However, there are still serious and troubling outstanding questions in this case, questions with far longer-term consequences than this release. They still need to be answered through a public inquiry, and it's vital that the UK Government releases all the relevant information it holds so that the truth can finally be known. The families deserve nothing less, and future politicians and diplomats would benefit from knowing what really happened. I was therefore pleased to hear the Justice Secretary commit today to cooperate with any such inquiry."

One of our finest Telegraph political editors (Daily, not Evening) wasn't entirely sure that anyone walked away from yesterday glinting in the sunshine -
There is to be another debate on this issue at Holyrood next week and after their rather limp performances yesterday, the opposition parties might care to concentrate on a number of issues where I think the minister is in trouble.
An interesting take - but I'm sure that Alan is just lining this up so that next week he can write a column explaining the miracle turn-around in Kenny's fortunes as Parliament backs his decision...

Meanwhile, a poll of Scotland's lawyers finds two thirds backing the Justice Secretary.

It seems to me that sensible comment is backing Kenny MacAskill, showing that stature and principle still have their places in Scottish politics.

No comments: