Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Ghoul's Draw!

In a previous employment, many moons ago, some of my colleagues of a ghoulish inclination set up an office 'Ghoul's Draw'. For those of you of normal human feelings, this was a sweepstake in which participants selected a celebrity and put a certain amount of cash into the pot. Whichever celebrity died first won the pot for the selecting member of staff.

Not particularly edifying, I know, but possibly slightly less boak-inducing than the sight of senior politicians from the UK and US falling over themselves to claim first dibs on the right to demand the death of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi in Greenock Jail, and condemning the Scottish Government for employing the law to release a man to die at home.

Leaving aside the somewhat knotty problem of guilt or innocence, it makes me grue to listen to all this 'violent agreement' - especially knowing that it has little or nothing to do with politicians concerns for the feelings of Pan Am flight 103 - but is concerned with claiming party political advantage in forthcoming elections, and being able to blame BP, or Tony Blair, or Gordon Brown, or (especially) Kenny MacAskill - even if our US cousins will hardly have heard of him. Even our First Minister, on (UK) Newsnight was so keen to have a go at David Miliband's entry into the debate, that he invented a reference to him in their preceding report! (Perhaps he had been shown the corresponding Newsnicht report that did mention him). You were in the right, Alex - you didn't need that.

I recall, at the time of Mr MacAskill's decision, thinking that - while he had made some errors in how he acted - his basic decision was one I supported, and I was deeply disappointed in the attitudes of opposition parties (of all shades) who attempted to make political capital. I also thought - and still think that the decision reflected well on Scotland - and the hostility expressed by some (especially American) commentators, reflected poorly on them.

During the General Election campaign - and despite the assertion by at least one London commentator* that the poor showing of the SNP was down precisely, to this compassionate release decision - it certainly did NOT feature as any kind of a major issue here. I had the impression, that whatever individuals' views on release, there was acceptance that it was a difficult decision, arrived at after full investigation.

It seems clear - whatever veils David Cameron wishes to pull across Barack Obama's eyes - that the decision was legal, decent, and taken after proper advice, and without lobbying either directly or indirectly. Gordon Brown was publicly clear that it was a decision for the Scottish Government, and had he expressed a view (one way or the other) it would have been (rightly) seen as interference.

Its a pity that his successor is so keen to heap blame on that government, that he is willing to exploit the dead and dying to do so.

*David Runciman, in the London Review of Books - 

1 comment:

  1. You are so right Chris. Can't agree more.

    Salmond and the SNP have acquited themselves well.

    The spectacle of Labour, Conservatives et al braying over Megrahi's failure to die timeously is deeply offensive.