(Please see UPDATE at end)
I watched poor Kenny MacAskill MSP (Scottish Justice Secretary in the SNP Scottish Executive) stand up today and spend a tediously long period trying to justify the unjustifiable. I have to say that whilst watching him read out his statement I had a sneaking admiration for his even delivery and stamina - as if he thought that D..R..A..G..G..I..N..G out his statement for so long would confuse the issue.
If the verdict of guilty against Megrahi is unsafe, as some seem to believe, then the evidence against him needs to be re-examined carefully and dispassionately - and this could have been done many years ago if there was any substance to it; indeed two appeals have taken place already and been rejected. If his conviction was not unsafe, in other words if he was correctly convicted, then I think his sentence of life imprisonment should have meant just that. Until his conviction is overturned, for me he is guilty - and for Kenny MacAskill, too, on the basis of what he took so long to say today.
So, according to Mr MacAskill we in Scotland let people out of prison because they're going to die imminently, out of 'compassion'. I wrote my views about that here, when I made a passing reference to the Megrahi case. They are no different today now that the Megrahi case has hit the headlines. What about the people who were killed when that aeroplane blew up over Lockerbie - they didn't get to go home to die with their families! Nor for that matter, I expect, do other convicted criminals who happen to die of old age, or a heart attack, or a stroke, whilst in prison. We are all going to die some day - it's part of human existence, indeed of every living creature. The fact that someone happens to be dying of some incurable disease in prison does not make them any more deserving of 'compassion' than any other criminal serving a prison sentence who happens to be going to die there.
MacAskill waffled on for ages trying to confuse the issue by dragging out his decision not to grant release under the Prisoner Transfer Scheme with Libya agreed by the UK government, when the Scottish Executive (aka 'Government') had sought an exemption for Scotland for any Lockerbie convictee (i.e. Megrahi), when that decision had no bearing - apart from trying to make yet another tedious political propaganda point in the SNP's campaign to sow dissent wiith the UK government - on the decision he took to release Megrahi on grounds of 'compassion', saying it was in a noble Scottish tradition. It's not one I've ever heard of. My analysis of this is that it is yet another example of the SNP Scottish Executive playing yet another cyncial game to try and wrong-foot the UK Government by strutting its devolved power before the world. Mind you it's no different than the cackeyed reasons Jack Straw, UK Justice Secretary, gave for releasing Biggs 'to die'. I'd rather MacAskill and Straw excercised compassion in their own time, not on my behalf. Pass the sick bag, Alice!
And we have, as any fool could have predicted, this criminal being given a hero's welcome back in Libya and using our Scottish Saltire as part of a crude propaganda exercise. Well done Mr MacAskill! I'll need that sick bag again, Alice!
PS/ To me, just to be clear, it's completely irrelevant that the US government objected vociferously to the prospect of Megrahi being sent back to Libya. We have our legal system and they have their's and they have done many things in recent years which have been found by many in this country to be revolting or merely unjust in recent years, and precious little notice have they taken of the views and sensibilities of what is supposed to be their closest ally in the world. The fact that there is a different Administration in the US today has not changed the fact that Guantanamo remains open and that the US is, many believe, still consigning people they capture to treatment that wouldn't be tolerated on US soil. I am very pro-American, but rank hypocrisy makes me heave!
UPDATE: (Sunday 23AUG09 14.10 BST) One of the other Nairn bloggers, Graisg, kindly wrote a brief article in his blog to alert his readers to my article; he expressed no view about what I had written. I placed a comment in his comment for that article to thank him for high-lighting my blog (obviously it has increased 'hits' here, specially from local people, although most of the 'hits' seem anyway to have come from the US). However, a number of the comments there were, ahem, somewhat uncomplimentary about me and I planned to post my own further comment there - however Graisg had closed off comments because of the nature of some of the earlier comments (I think) so I have written a new article here, which includes word-for-word what would have been in my comment.