08 June 2007

Row #1

Of all the things for the first row to be about, I'd never have bet on it regarding the status of Lockerbie Bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi. While neglecting to talk to Alex Salmond, Tony Blair decided to have a little tete-a-tete with Colonel Gaddafi, in which the UK agreed that it would plan a prisoner transfer, which, if the Scottish Executive consented, would see al-Megrahi return to Libya.

Now there are two sides to this one: on the one hand, there is the view that the Memorandum of Understanding with Libya specifically made it clear that the UK Government would ask the Scottish Executive's permission to transfer al-Megrahi, so there was no need for this to be discussed beforehand. On the other, there is the fact that this would land on the Executive's desk sooner or later, and so it was only right and proper that they at least be kept in the loop.

The plot thickens when you hear Jack McConnell, informing radio listeners that the former FM had blocked moves for this to happen before. This means that 1) this is the latest chapter in persisient moves by the UK Government to hand al-Megrahi over (sidestepping the sentence he was given by the Scottish judiciary and the agreement that he would be tried in a Scottish Court - albeit based in the Netherlands - and if found guilty, held in a Scottish prison); and 2) yes, the UK Government is going out of its way to blank Salmond in a way that they didn't do to McConnell.

Actually, the current FM has got off comparatively lightly. He has been ignored by the Head of the UK's Government. McConnell got publicly slapped down by random junior Ministers that no one had previously heard of.

McConnell's sympathy for Salmond (watered down by lines like 'if this is true...') is telling: it shows how exasperating it must have been for him to deal with London. And he was in the same party as Blair! More amusing was that despite McConnell's reaction, the Labour MSPs' cybernetic implants were re-activated last night, and Drone 10 of 46 (known as Margaret Curran's Hands before assimilation into the Borg Collective) went on television and attempted to screech Alex Neil into submission (Alex Neil doesn't do submission, Maggie dear) and allege that everything is perfectly OK. This is now the Labour line.

Except that McConnell's reaction to Parliament (blamed on a lack of notice of the statement by the Hands), and his revelations on radio today undermine the line that his colleagues have taken.

So you have a persistent attempt by Blair to subvert the Scottish judicial process. You also have an act of contempt for the Executive, whose Ministers have a right to know what is landing on their desks. Credit to McConnell, he's given sympathy and (albeit half-hearted) support to Salmond on this, and say that Scottish institutions deserve more respect. It's a shame that his colleagues are ignoring him.


Richard Havers said...

Teacups, storms, handbags, hot air, mountains, molehills...all come to mind.

james higham said...

Ah, those Sassenachs

Will said...

Actually, this has very little to do with 'Sassenachs'... Blair, seen as the cylinder which wasn't firing on this issue, was, after all, born in Edinburgh.

Having said that, he did go to Fettes so probably had all the Scottishness beaten out of him. :D

michael greenwell said...

i find it hard to give any credit to mcconnell whatsoever