Friday, 23 July 2010
Standing Up for Scotland
Scottish ministers and officials have turned down a request to attend a US Senate hearing next week over the release of the Lockerbie bomber. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and the Scottish Prison Service's medical chief Dr Andrew Fraser were invited. Senators also invited Westminster former justice secretary Jack Straw.
Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was jailed for life for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 which killed 270 people, most of them Americans. He was released by the Scottish government in August 2009 and allowed to return to Libya on compassionate grounds, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. The Scottish government maintains that the release was solely because of Megrahi's terminal illness and had nothing to do with a prisoner transfer agreement between the UK government and Libya.
From the BBC News Website
It's almost a year since Mr al-Megrahi was released from Greenock Prison. Yet still the controversy over his release rages - mainly from our cousins across the pond. The recent explosion from the BP oil rig off the east coast of the USA has caused environmental disaster for parts of the country - and has turned into a political football. Some US senators suspect that BP lobbied for Megrahi's release last year to aid its chances of getting oil deals with Libya. It is, therefore, open season on BP in the States and some US politicians see any link, no matter how tenuous, between Scotland's decision to release Mr al-Megrahi and the now hated BP as a means for political gain - a chance to make a name for themselves.
Even the Prime Minister of this country - David Cameron - declared on his visit to his chum President Obama - that releasing Mr al-Megrahi was 'completely wrong'. Then again, Cameron is leader of the Conservative Party and is maintaining a party tradition which began under Margaret Thatcher of sticking the boot into the Scots at every opportunity.
The Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has rightly turned down the 'invitation' to go to Washington to explain the actions of the Scottish government. MacAskill released al-Megrahi on the basis the Libyan is terminally ill. There is an argument for suggesting al-Megrahi was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and was wrongly convicted in the first place but that's another debate. As it did this time last year, Scotland has stood up to the USA. It was a decision devolved to the Scottish government. Whether they agree with it or not, US senators and David Tory Boy Cameron should respect that decision instead of jumping on whatever political bandwagon happens to be passing this week.
Amidst the growing anti-British - and perhaps anti-Scots mood - in the US it's worth remembering there are British soldiers dying in Afghanistan and Iraq in the so-called fight against terrorism. And it's perhaps also worth recalling how many US dollars found their way to the fighting fund of the IRA in the 1970s and 80s.
The so-called special relationship between the USA and UK is showing signs of strain. David Cameron could alleviate this by giving those 'Scots upstarts' what we really want - independence. Then he could lap dance for the President until his heart is content...