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Deal or no deal?

Brian Taylor | 12:44 UK time, Tuesday, 18 August 2009

I am not a conspiracy theorist. Prolonged exposure to the chaotic worlds of politics and the media has tended to drive me towards the other end of the spectrum.

However, that need not mean that we flounder fecklessly on every occasion, in every given set of circumstances.

Sometimes things work - or can be made to work. There can be a handy concatenation of circumstances.

Such, I believe, is palpably occurring with regard to the future of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber.

The Scottish Government is adamant it has made no deal with Megrahi in respect of his application to be returned to Libya on compassionate grounds, given the state of his health.

In those terms, I accept that. I do not believe Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, went to Greenock prison to strike a bargain.

I do not see him saying: "OK, here's the thing, drop the appeal and you're on your way home."

Competing interests

For one thing, say ministers, the Scottish Government has no interest in seeing the appeal abandoned.

Quite the contrary, they say, they are as keen as others to get to the facts underlying the Lockerbie tragedy.

So, no explicit deal in those terms. That does not mean, however, that the two are not linked, that there has not been choreography extending to other parties including the UK Government, the Libyan government, perhaps the Crown Office and Megrahi himself.

If you like, there is a nexus of influence here, sometimes with competing interests.

But the preponderance of influential interest is for this case to be closed - not least because the UK Government, for one, has indicated it is reluctant to see the disclosure of further documents emanating from foreign sources which the Megrahi legal team say must be made public.

In the High Court in Edinburgh today, Megrahi's counsel, Maggie Scott, made the potential connection explicit - the link, that is, between dropping the appeal and returning her client to Libya.

To be absolutely clear, she did not at any point say that a deal was on offer or that there had been any negotiations.

Early move

She merely said it was her client's belief that abandoning his appeal against conviction and sentence would "assist in the early determination of those applications".

Note, that is "applications", plural. She was referring to the two optional avenues for her client to be returned home: either via Prisoner Transfer (at the request of the Libyan government) or on compassionate grounds (the request of her client himself.)

We already knew all legal proceedings had to be dropped before prisoner transfer could be activated - that includes the Crown's appeal against sentence.

There were indications to the court today there will be early moves on that too. Expect it to be dropped.

That would, therefore, clear the way for Mr MacAskill to grant prisoner transfer, were he so minded. I do not believe he is so minded.

However, again, we are invited to contemplate the "applications". Plural.

Quite apart from prisoner transfer, Megrahi also believes his plea for clemency will be assisted, in his counsel's phrase, if he drops his appeal and closes down the case.

'Stretching credulity'

Mr MacAskill is adamant he made no such suggestion to Megrahi, he offered no such bargain.

So did the Megrahi legal team come to this conclusion themselves - or did others suggest that such a course might be wise, might "assist"?

I would guess the latter. Doesn't make this invidious, of itself. Doesn't make it egregious. Doesn't make it conspiratorial, of itself.

But, again, it's stretching credulity to suggest that there aren't links within the current round of developments.

Comments

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  • 1. At 1:36pm on 18 Aug 2009, boabycat wrote:

    Okum's razor says the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.
    I doesn't sound like a conspiracy, it is just a shame this SNP government chose to float (read spin) the story to guage public reaction before announcing a definitive statement one way or the other. They are picking up the very bad habits of Labour governments, past and present.

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  • 2. At 1:38pm on 18 Aug 2009, crazyislander wrote:

    Of course, Kenny MacAskil simply can't win here. He is damned if he does release him and damned if he doesn't. Let's hope that Mr Gray realises that he would be in exaclty the same position if he were Justice Minister.

    Personally, I'd rather the appeal had gone ahead if only to show that the evidence doesn't stand up. I have always felt that a deal had been done between the Americans and the UK government over the whole Megrahi thing. It was the US' price for Libya's reinstatement to the World of Nations. Megrahi was handed over, it appears to me, on the proviso that he would be released early. I bet his family live in luxury and have no doubt that he will go back to a rapturous welcome.

    Perhaps we should ask Kate Adie (cackles)

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  • 3. At 2:14pm on 18 Aug 2009, enneffess wrote:

    1. At 1:36pm on 18 Aug 2009, boabycat:

    I now think that the Scottish Government did leak the initial proposal to gauge public reaction.


    2. At 1:38pm on 18 Aug 2009, crazyislander:

    The problem with the theory that the UK/US governments have done some sort of deal is that the Justice Secretary is the only one who can release Megrahi.


    Here's a theory, and please feel welcome to destroy it (not that many here need any prompting!):

    The UK, Scottish and US governments have had off-the-record discussions in order to secure trade deals with Libya.

    But the Scottish Government has - unwittingly - been deliberately set up so that if Megrahi is released, they get the blame and public criticism from the US Government.


    Just an idea, but I am still convinced that the Scottish Government has been set up.

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  • 4. At 2:41pm on 18 Aug 2009, crazyislander wrote:

    On reflection Neil, I think I agree with you and I have no doubt that Mr Gray and his chums are already preparing their jibes and plots.

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  • 5. At 2:45pm on 18 Aug 2009, Blind_Captain wrote:

    #3 Neil_Small147

    I enjoy a conspiracy; even if the Scottish Government has been set up by Westmonster and the US, I wouldn't worry to much.

    If Salmond and co were chess players they would be thinking in terms of several moves in the future, while the others are just not that sharp and play single moves. Evidence what is happening around health reforms in the US or the mess that Brown's government has created for itself.

    Politics can be a dirty game; but if you accept that it is then you play the game and attempt to make sure that you come out of it with as many kudos as possible.

    Scotland and it's government will be firmly on the map with this, I'm just looking forward to how they positively project themselves. Think about the potential here; one of the following I would guess;

    A Scottish Goverment of compassion.
    A Scottish Government proud of it's legal institutions.
    A confident Scottish Government.
    A government willing to take the difficult decisions in the interests of fair justice.

    Bring it on.

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  • 6. At 2:47pm on 18 Aug 2009, NCA999 wrote:

    I hardly think they could have been set up.

    It should be noted that there's no pressing reason for them to consider Megrahi's release.

    Everyone talks as if they are caught between a rock and a hard place, this couldn't be further from the truth. If they release him they'll receive a massive amount of criticism, however I really fail to see how anyone could get very far in criticising them for not releasing him.

    MacAskil has made a spectacular screw up of this. It's not the fault of the SNP government (although it would have been nice if Salmond had kept a tighter control on silly ministers), it's not the fault of some US/UK conspiracy (if it was why are the US government so avidly opposing his release?), it's the fault of a daft minister who thought it would make him look important if he broadcast for several months this big responsibility he has.

    Visiting Megrahi in the prison was a perfect example of this, there is nothing he could have learned from such a visit, nothing. No other prisoners get such privileges. It was a media stunt, a very stupid one at that.

    Watching this whole episode, they thought it would make them look more important, the only thing it's done for me is scare me about the power that some less than competent individuals have.
    Proper, qualified legal professionals deliberated over the mans trial. Now we have one man, appointed by a minority administration in a Parliament of people that couldn't get elected to the national parliament. This whole thing has only served to seriously doubt the capacity of our elected politicians in the Scottish Parliament.

    They devolve decisions like this in other countries like the US to the individual states, and don't make such a pigs ear out of it. Why do we have to make everything about the SNPs party political agendas?

    Things can be better.

    Things should be better.

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  • 7. At 3:02pm on 18 Aug 2009, IsThisPravda wrote:

    Unfortunately, I think I have to agree with Neil here. I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist but Kenny and the Scottish government have been backed into a corner to such a degree here that I'll be surprised if McAskill retains his position come the end of it.
    This would be a shame, as I happen to think he has been far and away the best justice minister since devolution. He has brought vigour, innovation and, perhaps most importantly, a working knowledge of the Scottish justice system. The way the opposition have singled him out to try and undermine the popular government with the rabid support of the redtops, and some broads that really should know better, has been shameful and will be to the detriment of Scottish politics if successful.
    The actual question as to whether Magrahi is released or not, is, as stated, extremely tough. I have doubts about his guilt but he is still convicted of causing the death of nearly 300 people and as such I don't think we can release on compassionate grounds. It's just a pity we will not get to the truth in his lifetime, indeed we may never know what actually happened. I would opt for the prisoner transfer despite the politics, as it seems to me to be the least worst choice McAskill has open to him. In doing this he will neither be seen to be doing a u-turn, always dangerous politically despite the protestations as to the contrary and releasing him, which will be deeply unpopular in the U.S. and will be spun here as another example of the Scottish governments soft stance on crime

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  • 8. At 3:05pm on 18 Aug 2009, IN_CONFIDENCE wrote:

    #3 Neil_Small147

    If Megrahi is released, the Scottish Government will certainly "get the blame and public criticism from the US Government". That is inevitable in my view. For reasons which I state in the previous thread there is no possibility of any other public response from the US Government to the release of the Lockerbie bomber even if, in the background, there is collusion between the UK and US governments of the type that has been suggested.

    The Obama administration cannot be seen to be involved in allowing a convicted terrorist mass murderer to go free and be publicly feted in the Muslim world. It will wash its hands of the whole matter and may even encourage the National Endowment for Democracy to redouble its efforts to bring down the SNP government by associating it further with Islamist groups and countries deemed to be hostile to US and UK interests.

    It cannot be stated too strongly that the break-up of the UK, which is SNP policy, is not US policy.

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  • 9. At 3:38pm on 18 Aug 2009, kaybraes wrote:

    Lets keep Megrahi where he deserves to be; we can send Iain Gray and the Shetland sheepdog to Lybia instead , come to think of it ,we could also send Christine Graham there as well, she doesn't serve any useful purpose here.

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  • 10. At 4:18pm on 18 Aug 2009, Diabloandco wrote:

    8,"It cannot be stated too strongly that the break-up of the UK, which is SNP policy, is not US policy."

    The break up of the UK is none of their business, good though the US is at interfering around the world.
    They may not like the idea but thats tough, the EU appears to think breaking the UK into regions is a very good idea.

    Now I'm quite fond of the American people, I find them generous and polite, I also find them politically insular and inclined to believe too much in their own importance.

    I'd prefer if they sorted the problems in their own backyard and leave us to sort ours.

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  • 11. At 4:43pm on 18 Aug 2009, hoopleman wrote:

    Been following the news and the this blog for the past few days with interest and I certainly wouldn’t relish making the decision McAskill has to make. I am torn between compassion for a dying man and anger at man convicted for his part of a truly horrifying terrorist act. Throw in the realpolitik and I truly don’t know what I would do.

    Can I ask a related question – does anyone know what happened to Lester K Coleman? His ‘alleged’ links with the Lockerbie Case were in the book ‘Trail of the Octopus’ co-written by Donald Goddard in 1993. There seems to be no information on him since 2004 when he lost an appeal against a conviction in a Kentucky Court. I’m no conspiracy nut, just interested in the fate of another person caught up in this sad chronicle of events.

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  • 12. At 5:03pm on 18 Aug 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    One of the reasons why some people received the honour to be called conspiracists is because of people like you, Brian. Some of us wouldn't bother to try and read between the lines if we respected the information that was being given to us. It has got to the stage, especially in Scotland, where there is a huge and growing number of the voting population that does not believe what is being reported to them by the media. This is not the fault of the sceptical voters but the result of the media's blatant anti-SNP stance. I am unaware of any time in the past where the BBC has openly sided against a political party that was not racist. This will be remembered; I don't mean that as a threat but what respect are you and your fellow professionals going to have with your fellow Scots if independence happens?
    And now you start to tease us with a hint that the conspiracy theorists might be right all along. I'd be wary of Greeks bearing gifts.

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  • 13. At 5:03pm on 18 Aug 2009, angus scot wrote:

    One wonders where our FM is at this challenging time. Leadership from FM seems to be lacking or is he doing a disappearing act in case he is implicated if there is an outcry about the decision. There have been doubts about the competence of the justice minister in the past but he has been put in an impossible position and wee eck is remarkably silent.

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  • 14. At 5:36pm on 18 Aug 2009, uk_abz_scot wrote:

    If Mr Magrahi has cancer then dropping his appeal was only sensible. He has enough to worry about without the time consuming legal process.

    The SNP government is like a rabbit caught in a cars headlights - unsure what to do.

    The newspapers that tend to support (or are neutral about) the SNP are mostly members of the hang-em flog-em brigade. All those marginal SNP seats that slanted news stories in the papers could endanger!

    On the other hand I suspect the SNP would want to be seen as humane and must also be aware that letting somebody die in prison with cancer will not play well with Arab public opinion.




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  • 15. At 5:41pm on 18 Aug 2009, professor plum wrote:

    Make no mistake about this, Washington and London WANT Megrahi to return to Libya, they just dont want to take the blame for it !

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  • 16. At 5:58pm on 18 Aug 2009, wedontbelieveit wrote:

    There is not much a case to believe in the politicians of this country nor for that matter Justice but lets try and get this one right............show compassion, be compassionate but also be strong and make him serve the sentance given.

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  • 17. At 6:14pm on 18 Aug 2009, Diabloandco wrote:

    13, you obviously missed his appearance on STV news last night.
    Nothing quiet about it , he gave the Justice Minister his full support.
    Try watching STV instead of BBC Scotland , because BBC Scotland are scared of allowing him air time.
    They give it to every Tom , Dick and Tavish, they allow Glen Campbell to air his opinions but the FM of Scotland? Naw! too dangerous, he might sway public opinion in a direction of which the BBC disapproves!
    And lets face it , our " quality" press is full of Labour Party Press releases with a wee bit of grammatical tidying !

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  • 18. At 6:24pm on 18 Aug 2009, GrassyKnollington wrote:

    Brian Taylor says " I'm not a conspiracy theorist"

    GrassyKnollington says " I believe that statement is part of a hidden agenda"

    No really.

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  • 19. At 7:08pm on 18 Aug 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Well done BBC Scotland. From the first dozen or so entries on this thread the constant media coverage has encouraged ordinarily rational posters to believe that the story floated by this website's unsupported and unattributed Lockerbie bomber 'to be released' was "spin" by the same Scottish Government which in that very "article" describes it as "complete speculation". Goebbels would have been proud. The BBC normally only uses single quotes to distance themselves from potentially actionable allegations made by others but in this instance the term "to be released" is not a quote from anyone.

    I hadn't noticed the new thread earlier, but I have already commented on Campbell's new "story" on the previous thread. It beggars belief that he should mention the letter to Annan without mentioning the fact that it could turn the question into a matter reserved under the Scotland Act 1998. Odd, too, that NuLab's Murphy hasn't provided you with a selection of quotes on the subject.

    If prisoner transfer is chosen, will Westmidden be recalled and asked to amend the Scotland Act, I wonder? No, thought not, but neither did "Scottish" Labour think through their "recall Holyrood" demands.

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  • 20. At 7:16pm on 18 Aug 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    On consideration of this matter further it struck me that there are some parallels with the Ronnie Biggs case here. Not exactly the same but similar.

    The Criteria applied in that case was that it was compassionate to release him when it was clear his health had deteriorated to the point he would remain hospitalised.

    Surely this would be a compromise in this case which has now gone completely out of control. I agree with the American I heard on the Radio today it would be awful for the Victims if Magrahi was released to a heroes welcome in Libya. A little different if he is returned in a hospital bed. Whatever happens here we must remember the victims and the fact he has withdrawn his appeal ( presumably on the advice of the Justice Secretary )

    This can then be explained that this is perfectly normal under the principles of both Scottish and British justice.

    Magrahi should be treated like other criminals of his kind.

    However I suspect Kenny will dither and try more spin and end up making a bigger mess, although I note today Alec is taking charge of events in the media again.

    However this is now becoming an issue of competence in Kenny, he needs to get his finger out. I understand from Alec's interview today that he had all the info on Friday night. Now I am not wanting a hasty decision but 4 or 5 days should be enough to deliberate in a thoughtful way.

    I hope the SNP learn about the value of not adopting Nu-Lab spin techniques again, we don't want that to become more common in Holyrood as well.

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  • 21. At 7:20pm on 18 Aug 2009, NCA999 wrote:

    "Make no mistake about this, Washington and London WANT Megrahi to return to Libya, they just dont want to take the blame for it !"

    Ignorant statements like this from the SNP conspiracy theorists on this blog never cease to amuse me.

    The SNP have taken each and every single opportunity that they can to blame the government for things, even if it's little or non-existant at all they're out with the megaphones declaring that "The English are screwing us over" as part of an attempt to mislead people into their seperatist agenda.

    Where on earth do you guys get the idea that if MacAskill really was being screwed over by the government that he wouldn't shout it from the rooftops? If the Americans were publicly condemning him whilst privately pressuring him to release the man, what possible interest is there for him to stand and take those bullets?
    Answer: Absolutely None!

    Nobody is forcing him even to take a decision. This has been a disastrous media exercise from the SNP exec right from the start.
    When they started screaming on national news about how the government were trying to release Megrahi (which at the time seemed an abominable thing to them), even though all they had done was agree an extradition treaty.
    When they released it to the media and turned a serious issue into a disastrous PR campaign.
    When they intentionally allowed the waters to be muddied about whether they were letting him out because he was innocent or because he was ill, in order to justify the decision in the face of public opposition.

    Thats when he made a fool of himself and an embarassment of our legal system.

    This decision was blatantly taken a long time ago. MacAskill thought it would be a positive PR thing to release him, then realised through his attempt to make it into a media event that the general public clearly disagree. As a result he's spent months in "consultation" to justify him changing course and trying to find some way of not releasing him.

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  • 22. At 7:36pm on 18 Aug 2009, enneffess wrote:

    The FM has been visible, but quietly so. He has given his support to his Justice Minister, but he is not being overly vocal.

    I think he realises that the Scottish Government have lost the initiative here. Supporters have to accept this. If he does release Megrahi then the Justice Secretary becomes the fall guy. The First Minister can rightly state that the decision was a legal one and the responsibility is that of the Justice Secretary.


    10. At 4:18pm on 18 Aug 2009, Diabloandco:

    The EU is interested in the break up on nation states so the EU parliament can rule with little intereference. Remember this is an organisation that has yet to have its own accounts verified, and ensures whistleblowers are sacked.

    People moan about the interference of the USA. Fair enough regarding Iraq etc. But it is the USA that provides the bulk of heavy equipment and transport for UN relief and humanitarian missions.



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  • 23. At 7:54pm on 18 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    14. uk_abz_scot:
    "If Mr Magrahi has cancer then dropping his appeal was only sensible"

    I disagree, if we are to see justice served, and also the dignity of the Scots judicial system then surely his appeal must go on? It can carry on after his death I believe?

    We need to know for sure:

    i. was he actually guilty (or is there grounds for a not proven verdict)
    ii. to conclude this and strengthen the Scots judicial system. Closing the book.

    Besides as I've said before any issue of his compassionate release must not be linked to or conflated with his guilt or innocence. They must remain seperate but ongoing processes.

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  • 24. At 8:03pm on 18 Aug 2009, Ian Riches wrote:

    Are you aware that a private jet is flying into Glasgow Airport from Tripoli tonight and is due to leave sometime tomorrow. I guess the dear Scottish Govt will tell us after the event!

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  • 25. At 8:16pm on 18 Aug 2009, handclapping wrote:

    Of course its a conspiracy. It's Brian trying to get rid of Glen by getting him to be a news maker instead of a news reporter and so of no further use to the Beeb as his continued employment would not be impartial and Brian reigns supreme.
    All it needs is for Angiolini to drop the appeal for a longer sentence and Kenny can announce that he is minded to transfer him to Tripoli under Bliar' deal with Gadaffi and it becomes UK foreign policy and nothing to do with the SNP.

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  • 26. At 8:26pm on 18 Aug 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #21 NCA999

    "Ignorant statements like this from the SNP conspiracy theorists on this blog never cease to amuse me."
    The feeling's mutual, although you have a touching belief that anyone wanting home rule is a "seperatist". In what way is either position more reprehensible than being a "BritNat"?

    "When they started screaming on national news about how the government were trying to release Megrahi (which at the time seemed an abominable thing to them), even though all they had done was agree an extradition treaty."
    At least get your facts right. What "extradition treaty"? Are you confusing extradition with prisoner transfer?

    "When they intentionally allowed the waters to be muddied about whether they were letting him out because he was innocent or because he was ill, in order to justify the decision in the face of public opposition."
    Where is your evidence of this? The BBC "article" which opened this can of worms made no such suggestion and no print media have published anything even claiming to have come from the Scottish Goverment other than denials.

    And if the "preferred" decision is for transfer, that option is not yet available because the Crown have not withdrawn their appeal, let alone Campbell's new muddying of the waters suggesting that transfer would breach a prior "deal" with the USA with possible "reserved" implications notwithstanding the FCO's statement.

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  • 27. At 8:30pm on 18 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    21. NCA999
    "Ignorant statements like this from the SNP conspiracy theorists on this blog never cease to amuse me."

    They don't amuse me.

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  • 28. At 8:35pm on 18 Aug 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #24 Torpedoesaway

    Welcome, newbie, but so what? If you have any statistics on how many there have been over the past year or so to suggest that's a very unusual occurrence, it might be of interest. With the Crown yet to withdraw its appeal on sentence leniency, I find it hard to believe it would not have been mentioned in court today.

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  • 29. At 8:48pm on 18 Aug 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #23 deanthetory

    I agree with what you say, Dean, but now the prisoner's appeal has been dropped the only chance of getting at the truth is a proper public enquiry. That seems a long way away so long as NuLab cling to power at Westmidden, and I can't see it being an early priority for Cameron after the next general election, especially as will not just need to rake over NuLab's skeletons on the issue but a few from the Thatcher/Major era too. Right now, the Tories have plausible deniability for themselves but to take NuLab to task over it would be a risk.

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  • 30. At 9:31pm on 18 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    NCA999 wrote:

    "...it's the fault of a daft minister who thought it would make him look important if he broadcast for several months this big responsibility he has."

    That is complete nonsense. MacAskill had this "big responsibility" anyway. And everybody knew that he did. He had no need to "broadcast" the fact, even if it had been in his own interest to do so. And it certainly was not in his interest. The unsought media circus has only made things more difficult for him.

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  • 31. At 9:31pm on 18 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    Browndedov

    Yes I think your right, Cameron is probably looking to move away from scandals, "events" and the like. He wants to campaign on "change versus Brown"....Blue go Green and other such platitudes.

    But once conference season starts we just might get some real outlines of what D.Cs' 'compassionate torism' actually is.
    I support DC because I feel that it is reflective of my own views- but the conference season will be make or break. This is why he will avoid issues like the appeal etc as he wants a clear platitude littered run into the campaigning.

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  • 32. At 9:37pm on 18 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    IsThisPravda wrote:

    "Unfortunately, I think I have to agree with Neil here. I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist but Kenny and the Scottish government have been backed into a corner to such a degree here that I'll be surprised if McAskill retains his position come the end of it."

    In what way has the Scottish Government been "backed into a corner"? What part of the prevailing circumstances has been contrived by some third party? Other, that is, than the rumour-mongering of the media doubtless orchestrated by the Tory/BLP alliance. Their sole political "strategy" as an opposition is to seek to undermine the Scottish Government at every opportunity. That's the only "conspiracy" here. Although the term implies a degree of clever connivance that is hardly evident in the results.

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  • 33. At 9:43pm on 18 Aug 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #30 Electric Hermit

    Welcome, newbie, and spot on.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 34. At 9:49pm on 18 Aug 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #31 deanthetory
    "This is why he will avoid issues like the appeal etc as he wants a clear platitude littered run into the campaigning."

    Neatly put, and I'm sure you're correct. Perhaps he'll pencil it in for his 2nd term?

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  • 35. At 9:50pm on 18 Aug 2009, NCA999 wrote:

    Brownedov

    As a clarification about debate terminology, I'm not in any camp, it is you and you're small group of friends who are advocating a position. I, like everyone else in Scotland, disagrees with your position. That does not make me a British Nationalist, it makes me not a Scottish Nationalist, there is a fairly clear difference and it's an important distinction, as it gets down to the point Jim Murphy made about claiming back the Scottish flag. I've been in a room and heard SNP MSP's claim to be more scottish than their opponents and frankly find it quite insulting.

    As to your points, if I could call them that.

    Your #29 is on the bandwagon of, "It's all labours fault, even though they're not in power anymore, it's still their fault" that we've come to expect. Just like Gordon Browns claims that the problems he faces are because of a Tory government 10 years ago, nobody believes that, you're in power, it's your responsibility.

    You claim that it's down to the government to call an enquiry. NO IT'S NOT. They are not in charge of the legal system in Scotland anymore, not with regards to these matters anyway. If there were to be an inquiry into whether or not his trial was fair it would be conducted by the Scottish Parliament.

    Once again, apportion blame to the English for something that's our own fault in the hope that stirring up negative attitudes will con people into agreeing with you, we're not that stupid.

    If this really were some big conspiracy by New Labour, do you not think Alex Salmond would be taking every opportunity available to him to uncover it and therefore claim, incorrectly as it would have nothing to do with the nature of the union but with one party, that it was an example of our government screwing us over???



    In response to my previous point you made two arguments, one was incorrect, but at least sounded like it had been written by someone with an intellect greater than a 10 year old, the other just made me laugh.

    Your first point was to claim that MacAskill hasn't done anything to stir this up. Whilst I don't work in the media, and don't know exactly which person in his office has been leaking all this information, the amount of information in the public domain about this is so great that it's clearly been released with the consent of the only person involved in it. If you want an example though I'll give you one;

    MacAskill visited the man in prison. He didn't do this to get extra information on the case, nobody has been able to cite a single thing of use that he would have been able to learn from such a meeting that he couldn't have gotten better information from other sources on. This meeting was conducted, and the press were informed about it, for PR purposes. I don't know if he wanted it to look like he was taking it really seriously, or if he wanted it to look like he was empathising with the man or whatever. It was a PR exercise and a disastrous one at that.


    As for your second point that the decision can't have been made already as the appeals hadn't yet been dropped. I'm not sure if you were trying to be intentionally dim here as a joke or if you genuinely don't get the point. Clearly a formal decision, a ruling by the Justice Minister hasn't been made yet, if it had been we would know for other reasons than that the appeals hadn't yet been dropped. That doesn't mean that he hadn't made up his mind about what he was going to do several weeks ago. This is clearly what I meant, a trained chimp could have understood thatso I don't get how you didn't.



    And to all of you people having this silly side debate about the EU supporting Scottish Independence. Firstly the EU as an collective whole does nothing of the sort, this is because most countries in the EU would oppose it, some on the grounds of their own internal federalist issues. Secondly, if the EU elite/executive/president supports it it's because it would limit our power. We might get an extra seat or two in the parliament of 800 but we would lose all of the effective lobbying power that the UK has, which is where the real check against Agriculture, Fisheries and other reforms, designed to benefit the French/Germans/Spanish rather than us, exists.




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  • 36. At 9:57pm on 18 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    32. Electric Hermit

    "In what way has the Scottish Government been "backed into a corner"?"

    They haven't. 'Except for events dear boy events'- SuperMac.

    "Other, that is, than the rumour-mongering of the media doubtless orchestrated by the Tory/BLP alliance. Their sole political "strategy" as an opposition is to seek to undermine the Scottish Government at every opportunity"

    Sadly here is when you let yourself down.

    I may be mistaken but didn't those evil tories agree to pass the SNP budget after grown-up negotiations? It wasnt my lot who have sought to "bring down" any SNP government- quite the opposite! Wihtout Auntie Annabel big old Alex would have been out of office thanks to the manipulation of the Lib-Lab alliance.

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  • 37. At 10:10pm on 18 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    35. At 9:50pm on 18 Aug 2009 NCA999 wrote:

    "MacAskill visited the man in prison. He didn't do this to get extra information on the case..."

    But you can safely bet that if MacAskill had not interviewed al-Megrahi personally the Tory/BLP alliance would now be accusing him of dereliction.

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  • 38. At 10:17pm on 18 Aug 2009, newspaceman wrote:

    Grassy Knoll @ comment 18 digs it.

    cheers

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  • 39. At 10:23pm on 18 Aug 2009, romeplebian wrote:

    I listened to this on Radio 5 Live today, and much as I think a lot of what you say is tripe, Brian, your put down of the ignorant American who described Scotland as being given devolution by Tony Blair and not having the power of a provisional council, and then you told him that Scotland's legal system is one of the oldest in Europe and pre dates the union, certainly shut him up.

    As was pointed out on the same show there is a lot of interference from the USA.
    Simple fact is the decision is being made by K Mackaskill, not anyone else, Scotland has nothing to gain from making a decision either way, and the US seem to forget the Plane blew up and landed on Scotland and killed many people from Scotland , so why the US feel they have some moral prime right to all of this is a smoke screen for the shenanigans going on in the background, ironic how Lockerbie has more than a plane crash on its plate

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  • 40. At 10:25pm on 18 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    37. Electric Hermit
    "But you can safely bet that if MacAskill had not interviewed al-Megrahi personally the Tory/BLP alliance would now be accusing him of dereliction."

    Word of advice newbie- non't throw around silly conspiracy theories on this blogspot. Blether with Brian is for grown ups, not for kids who talk about the big evil old tories.

    Dont like the Cons? Fair enough, the majority of Scots would agree with you. However where is your EVIDENCE for this fantiful link of conspiracy between British Labour and Scottish Conservative?

    Are you even aware of my Holyrood parties voting record? We were vital in getting the SNP budget passed, we were always there for a grown up discussion whilst Labout sulked and Liberals huffed.

    Please, keep this silly "Tory/BLP alliance" stuff out of here. Its jingoistic nonsense.

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  • 41. At 10:29pm on 18 Aug 2009, NCA999 wrote:

    And if anyone did accuse him of dereliction of duty for not visiting Megrahi in prison he would have been able to say,

    No people in consideration for early release get a personal visit from the Justice Secretary

    and

    There was nothing that could have been learned from meeting with Mr Al-Megrahi on this matter.


    With such political savvy as that Electric Hermitt you would make a great MSP.

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  • 42. At 10:33pm on 18 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    36. At 9:57pm on 18 Aug 2009, deanthetory wrote:

    "I may be mistaken but didn't those evil tories agree to pass the SNP budget after grown-up negotiations? It wasnt my lot who have sought to "bring down" any SNP government- quite the opposite! Wihtout Auntie Annabel big old Alex would have been out of office thanks to the manipulation of the Lib-Lab alliance."

    No maybe about it. You are very much mistaken. Alex Salmond and John Swinney rather easily duped "those evil tories" into supporting their budget by the simple expedient of holding back a couple of items which they then threw to "Auntie Annabel" dressed up as concessions.

    Goldie was one of the most respected politicians in Scotland until she threw in her lot with direputable characters such as George Foulkes. Very sad!

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  • 43. At 10:41pm on 18 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #35 NCA999

    Well your posts are certainly distinctive on this blog.

    It's some time since we had this level of bold assertion, based on the supposition of the media and your take on that.

    Additionally, the suggestions that our side of the debate is somehow "attacking the English" are thankfully rare here. I have never seen Brownedov in particular make any such attack.

    You are confusing criticism of the British/UK Government with somehow attacking the English.

    There's no need to get upset about being called a British Nationalist (unless you are concerned about the NI dimension of the UK being excluded). If a "Scottish Nationalist" (and Brownedov isn't one) is someone who wants Scotland to be a sovereign state, then someone who wishes the UK to continue as a sovereign state is a "UK Nationalist" (or since the UK persistently uses "British" as an appellation for citizens of the UK, reasonably a "British Nationalist"). You should be glorying in that description, not forming your underwear into a tangled knot.

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  • 44. At 10:47pm on 18 Aug 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    #36 - NCA, I had to pose a few questions in response, just to satisfy a curiosity.

    "I'm not in any camp, it is you and you're small group of friends who are advocating a position."

    So you don't advocate a position, i.e. Scotland should remain as part of the UK? Or is it just a case of you opposing the alternative but have nothing constructive to suggest as a better way of government for Scotland?

    " I, like everyone else in Scotland, disagrees with your position."

    Since more on this blog support Browndov's position than support yours, this assertion is blatantly nonsense.

    "You claim that it's down to the government to call an enquiry. NO IT'S NOT. They are not in charge of the legal system in Scotland anymore, not with regards to these matters anyway."

    Yet everyone from Spud Murphy's granny to Call-me-Dave's next door neighbour calling for Westminster to take over. Are these just empty calls or do they really think Westminster would make a better hash of this situation?

    "MacAskill visited the man in prison."

    This information is in the public domain (the Justice Secretary's diary is open to scrutiny - and prison guards would see him entering Greenock prison). Claiming it as some sort of leak only puts you in the same league as those conspiracy chumps who think Elvis shot JFK before transporting back to Jupitor where grey aliens run the Pentagon.

    "He didn't do this to get extra information on the case, nobody has been able to cite a single thing of use that he would have been able to learn from such a meeting that he couldn't have gotten better information from other sources on."

    The man is asking for compassionate leave. That's a matter of discretion and opinion. Should the Justice secretary guage the need for compassion based on the views of others or by speaking to the source himself?

    "This meeting was conducted, and the press were informed about it, for PR purposes"

    Of course, you can cite a source from the Justice Secretary's office for this leak. Ah, thought not. It's just as likely a prision guard leaked this info to the Beeb to embarress the government.

    "We might get an extra seat or two in the parliament of 800 but we would lose all of the effective lobbying power that the UK has, which is where the real check against Agriculture, Fisheries and other reforms, designed to benefit the French/Germans/Spanish rather than us, exists."

    And yet again, the obvious has to be pointed out to you. Scotland has NO lobbying power in terms of Agriculture, Fisheries and other reforms. The mere suggestion that Scotland should take the lead for the UK's Fisheries almost sent Whitehall into apoletic shock, even though fisheries policy has more impact in Scotland than in Westminster.

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  • 45. At 10:48pm on 18 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    40. At 10:25pm on 18 Aug 2009, deanthetory wrote:

    "Word of advice newbie..."

    Better advice. Don't toss out terms like "newbie" until you know who you are addressing.

    "However where is your EVIDENCE for this fantiful link of conspiracy between British Labour and Scottish Conservative?"

    The evidence pervades the media in Scotland. Then there was an expensive little fiasco called the Calman Commission.

    "Please, keep this silly "Tory/BLP alliance" stuff out of here."

    Methinks the Tory doth protest too much.

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  • 46. At 10:51pm on 18 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    42. Electric Hermit

    You are below contempt.

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  • 47. At 10:51pm on 18 Aug 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    #41 - "No people in consideration for early release get a personal visit from the Justice Secretary "

    And yet again, the obvious has to be pointed out to you. Megrahi is hardly an ordinary prisoner and any early release of prisoner transfer will have ramifications around the world.

    The Justice Secretary is right to gather all views and opinions before making a decision. To suggest otherwise is...well, we all know what it is.

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  • 48. At 10:58pm on 18 Aug 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    #41. NCA999

    "No people in consideration for early release get a personal visit from the Justice Secretary"

    Why?

    "There was nothing that could have been learned from meeting with Mr Al-Megrahi on this matter."

    How do you know?

    Blair met Gaddafi and formed transfer of prisoner arrangement. Why because the UK has a looming shortfall fossil fuel energy and that would open that door. That is why this has been leaked by Westminster knowing that they can use pravada to create a problem for the SNP for political gain as Mr Al-Megrahi would be entitled for repatriation on health grounds anyway.

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  • 49. At 10:59pm on 18 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    41. At 10:29pm on 18 Aug 2009, NCA999 wrote:

    "No people in consideration for early release get a personal visit from the Justice Secretary"

    Few such people have the significance of al-Megrahi. It may have escaped your notice, but he is a bit of a "special case".

    "There was nothing that could have been learned from meeting with Mr Al-Megrahi on this matter."

    To whatever extent this is true, the mere fact that there were good "excuses" available for not visiting al-Megrahi wouldn't have deterred the Tory/BLP alliance from seeking to contrive some kind of smear.

    But the reality is that MacAskill had to interview al-Megrahi personally for the very obvious reason that he had to be seen to be scrupulously thorough in his examination of every aspect of the case.

    It really grates on the unionist cabal, but the fact remains that MacAskill is actually doing a very difficult job rather well.

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  • 50. At 11:06pm on 18 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    42. Electric Hermit

    "Alex Salmond and John Swinney rather easily duped "those evil tories" into supporting their budget by the simple expedient of holding back a couple of items which they then threw to "Auntie Annabel" dressed up as concessions."

    You have much to learn.
    Especially if you honestly believe the £60 millions town centre regeneration fund is just as dismissable as being "just a couple" of items. The towncentres of:

    • Aberdeenshire - Stonehaven & Fraserburgh

    • Argyll & Bute - Tarbert

    • Clackmannanshire - Alloa

    • Dumfries & Galloway - Dumfries & Sanquhar

    • Dundee - Lochee area

    • East Ayrshire - Galston & Cumnock

    • East Lothian - Dunbar

    • East Renfrewshire - Barrhead

    • Edinburgh - Craigmillar & Portobello

    • Falkirk - Denny, Bo'ness, Stenhousemuir & Grangemouth

    • Fife - Kirkcaldy & Lochgelly

    • Glasgow - Bridgeton, Maryhill & Govan Cross

    • Highland - Dingwall

    • Inverclyde - Greenock

    • North Ayrshire - Ardrossan, Millport, Saltcoats

    • North Lanarkshire - Airdrie, Bellshill, Coatbridge, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth, Motherwell & Wishaw

    • Perth & Kinross - Coupar Angus, Blairgowrie & Aberfeldy

    • Renfrewshire - Paisley, Johnstone, Renfrew, Erskine, Bridge of Weir & Lochwinnoch

    • Scottish Borders - Hawick

    • South Ayrshire - Ayr

    • South Lanarkshire - Carluke & Biggar

    • Stirling - Raploch & Dunblane

    I am sure all disagree with your rather dismissive tone. I suppose you feel that our towncentres should just wither and die?

    What is small time about the Conservative opposition wrestling "£100m concession in return for voting with the administration" (http://ukpoliticsnews.blogspot.com/2009/01/snp-budget-fiasco.html)

    But why do I bother with you? Your attitude speaks for itself.

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  • 51. At 11:20pm on 18 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    45. Electric Hermit
    "Don't toss out terms like "newbie" until you know who you are addressing."

    Ah- perhaps I am in the company of the Queen of Eqypt? Or are you the lost Daisy Armstrong?

    "Then there was an expensive little fiasco called the Calman Commission."

    Your real gripe and grievance is uncovered. I take it you are unhappy with the Calman commissions findings? Is its suggestion of further devolution sitting uncomfortably on your shoulders?

    My possition on Calman is well known to the regulars on this blog- I want to see fiscal autonomy for Scotland. I personally; though disapointed that this was not the Calman conclusion; am still open minded enough to accept that others have the right to disagree with one.

    But anyway- what precisely about Calmans' demand for further devolution is it that makes you 'feel' (with the force perhaps) a Tory-Labour conspiracy of darkness is afoot?

    Lets have a butchers at those emails proving some kind of anti-SNP conspiracy between the two parties....oh wait...thats right you dont have any such proof- except to say "The evidence pervades the media in Scotland"......ah thats the same media represented in all of its reliability by Campbell? Thats a reliable source of material then eh? Nice and vague, nothing in particular to uphold your nonsense NEWBIE...and a little of Campbell chucked in (are you a regular reader of the Scottish media at all? If you were you will understand that by basing your entire argument on the likes of the Sun, Mail and Herald isnt all that convincing).

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  • 52. At 11:31pm on 18 Aug 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #35 NCA999

    "I'm not in any camp, it is you and you're small group of friends who are advocating a position. I, like everyone else in Scotland, disagrees with your position."
    The only position I have advocated on these threads is for home rule and local control. I agree that the SNP does not take the localist view I would wish, but they and even the L-Ds believe in the idea of home rule. If your assertion that you represent "everyone else in Scotland" is correct, it is to say the least a little odd that the SNP did so well in the recent euro elections, with the home rule parties taking 48.79% of the vote. Your arguments put you firmly in the "unionist" camp, though which - if any - branch of it is less obvious.

    "That does not make me a British Nationalist, it makes me not a Scottish Nationalist"
    In that case, your persistent references in your #21 to "the government" when actually referring to the UK government and your apparent inability even to mention the Scottish government are confusing, to say the least. Do you not believe in nation states of any sort?

    "Your #29 is on the bandwagon of, "It's all labours fault, even though they're not in power anymore, it's still their fault" that we've come to expect."
    Not so. First, the Tories had a chance to clear the air over all this while Bush Sr was still in power and NuLab most certainly had the opportunity when they negotiated the deals first to handover the suspects and secondly over prisoner transfer. Are you really suggesting that the likes of Swire believe justice was not done out of sheer cussedness?

    "You claim that it's down to the [UK] government to call an enquiry. NO IT'S NOT."
    NO I DID NOT! The Scottish government could call a public enquiry, but there would be little point in doing so without co-operation from the UK government who have control of the security and foreign services.

    "Once again, apportion blame to the English for something that's our own fault"
    Who? Where? Not in any of my posts.

    "the amount of information in the public domain about this is so great that it's clearly been released with the consent of the only person involved in it"
    So you think that the BBC story which started this had simultaneous briefings from the Scottish government, being told 'to be released' in one and "complete speculation" in the other? To me, it beggars belief, but if so, surely the BBC would have attributed the 'to be released' to the same sources?

    Regarding MacAskill's visit to the prison, just possibly he's a real human being who needed to look the man in the face before taking what will be an important decision on the prisoner's future.

    "That doesn't mean that he hadn't made up his mind about what he was going to do several weeks ago. This is clearly what I meant, a trained chimp could have understood thatso I don't get how you didn't."
    Are you suggesting that MacAskill can instruct the Crown to drop its appeal and the Court to agree? Until both those things happen, a possible option is unavailable to him.

    "And to all of you people having this silly side debate about the EU supporting Scottish Independence..."
    Not me, but your post clearly shows your dislike of the "EU elite/executive/president". Are you a UKIP supporter, by any chance?

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 53. At 11:33pm on 18 Aug 2009, Diabloandco wrote:

    So speaks a pompous young Tory .

    I hope you have learned your lesson Electric , don't cross swords with a member of a party with so many representatives in Holrood!

    How many Scottish Tory MPs are there??
    Scotland really loves them!

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  • 54. At 11:34pm on 18 Aug 2009, enneffess wrote:

    What I am still trying to figure out is why the Scottish Government is taking such a huge political risk over one person.

    I accept that they want justice, but it also smacks as them trying to bring facts into the open that will embarrass the UK Government.

    They are also showing naivety in Government when dealing with major issues.

    Examples:

    Daegeo
    The First Minister was right to voice concern about job losses. But he blew it by appearing on the streets of Kilmarnock. You leave the public protests to your political colleagues who do not hold cabinet positions. Where was he when Freescale shut? Woolworths? Any time now in the future where there are major job losses people will ask where is the First Minister now? And if Daegeo go ahead with their plans then he is then open to the claim that he failed.

    Megrahi:
    Christine Grahame has been a regular visitor. No problem with that at all. (Shock, horror, I'm being nice to her!) But then the Justice Secretary goes to see him. Now he can be accused of both giving a convicted terrorist special treatment and also pressurising him to drop his appeal in order to release him. A release that I now think will cause the SNP a major headache.

    You do not send in cabinet post members of your government with such issues - at least not publicly. You leave that to rank and file MSPs/MPs. Constituency MSPs/MPs are welcome to join the protests. The public do not care about those and even the media makes little of it. But send in the big boys and the media are itching to hammer someone.

    I've spent a lot of time thinking about this and avoided media speculation. I've looked at the actions of both the FM and Justice Secretary.

    Both have made errors of judgement with regards to the handling of both affairs. Both hopefully have learned from these.

    With Megrahi, other forces are at work and have - in my opinion - steered MacAskil into his current position.



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  • 55. At 11:35pm on 18 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    50. At 11:06pm on 18 Aug 2009, deanthetory wrote:

    "I suppose you feel that our towncentres should just wither and die?"

    I'm sure you are totally convinced that you actually read this in one of my posts. More worryingly, you appear to believe that everyone else shares this delusion.

    But your embarrassment is understandable. It can't be easy being a Tory in Scotland. Especially when your leaders in the Unionist Alliance are so regularly trounced by Alex Salmond and his team.

    Can you even remember how long "your lot" have been desperately trying to force Kenny MacAskill to resign? And yet here he remains. Doing an excellent job and showing the "old guard" just how it should be done. I hope you are taking notes.

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  • 56. At 11:37pm on 18 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #50 deanthetory

    The critical question is whether schemes like the "£60 millions town centre regeneration fund" or the Edinburgh tram scheme £512 millions Edinburgh tram scheme (Phase 1a) were the best ways of using a fixed budget of public monies. Your party voted for both of these.

    I'm not saying that these were necessarily wrong decisions, but politics is essentially about the strategic decisions as to disbursement of public funds (and the raising of them, an area in which you are an unusual Tory supporting [I think?] fiscal autonomy).

    Any monies spent on one aspect of the public sector can't be spent elsewhere. I presume that you are happy to have prioritised these particular spends over others where your party have criticised the Scottish Government for having spent less than you would have liked?

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  • 57. At 11:51pm on 18 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    54. At 11:34pm on 18 Aug 2009, Neil_Small147 wrote:

    "What I am still trying to figure out is why the Scottish Government is taking such a huge political risk over one person."

    The Scottish Government did not contrive this situation. They inherited it. It wasn't Alex Salmond who signed the Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA)with Libya, it was Tony "The Weasel" Blair.

    And not even the worst of the Tory/BLP propagandists has suggested that the SNP gave al-Megrahi prostate cancer. YET!

    Given the fact of the PTA, there was always going to be an application for repatriation. Given the fact of al-Megrahi's medical condition, there was always going to be an application for compassionate release. The Scottish Government simply has to deal with the issue. Which is exactly what they are doing - despite the petty politicking of the unionist cabal.

    "They are also showing naivety in Government when dealing with major issues."

    Naivety? Or a fresh approach by which the SNP seeks to distance itself from the corrupt and totally discredited "old politics" of the British Labour Party and their Tory allies.

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  • 58. At 11:54pm on 18 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    56. oldnat

    "I presume that you are happy to have prioritised these particular spends over others where your party have criticised the Scottish Government"

    It is indeed a matter of priorities oldnat. Too right. My party priority is to spend public monies constructively (Electric Hermit is otherwise happy to sit and moan however). Scottish towncentres need investment, then this money must naturally be found.

    First up I would not have spent less on Education for example- because the bulk of the SNP spending increase of 8.3% was designed to reduce class sizes - something I dont feel is at all important or worthwhile.
    That money would have been spent my me on major contruction projects like the trams- to provide employment opportunities to construction firms in our capital becuase of British Labours economic incompetence.

    Or on more money for our deprived and overlooks urban centres. We need to dig deep and regenderate.

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  • 59. At 11:55pm on 18 Aug 2009, enneffess wrote:

    56. At 11:37pm on 18 Aug 2009, oldnat:

    Have to agree with you here.

    ------------

    55. At 11:35pm on 18 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    ..... Kenny MacAskill to resign? And yet here he remains. Doing an excellent job and showing the "old guard" just how it should be done. I hope you are taking notes.


    I'm sorry, but MacAskill has been damaged politically, like it or not. To be fair it's not really his fault. And no, I'm not calling for his resignation.

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  • 60. At 11:57pm on 18 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    53. Diabloandco wrote:
    So speaks a pompous young Tory.

    I think it was aye_write from a while back who once said the same thing roughly (she said I reminded her vaguely of 'tory boy' from Enfield).

    Pompous no. (I hope not). Just merely sick to death of people like Electric Hermit mouthing off about evil tory conspiracies and how everyone in the labour/tory/liberal parties are merely out to get the SNP.

    Its just not grown up at all.

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  • 61. At 11:57pm on 18 Aug 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #43 oldnat &
    #44 ForteanJo

    Nicely put. From current and previous posts, I fear we're all probably wasting our time attempting to debate with NCA999 but some of the statements are too bizarre to be ignored.

    Busy day tomorrow, so off to blanket bay, but back tomorrow night, I hope. Goodnight all.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 62. At 11:59pm on 18 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    my sentence as per 58 "First up I would not have spent less on Education for example- because" should have read "First up I would have spent less on Education for example- because"

    Sorry.

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  • 63. At 00:09am on 19 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    59. At 11:55pm on 18 Aug 2009, Neil_Small147 wrote:

    "I'm sorry, but MacAskill has been damaged politically..."

    Perhaps. But if he has it is by "circumstances, dear boy" and not the feeble efforts of the Tory/BLP alliance who have been ineffectually trying to claim his political scalp for a year or more.

    In fact, I think MacAskill may come out of this all right. The smear campaign will continue, of course. The "opposition" have nothing else to offer. But most people will understand the invidious nature of his situation and will assess his conduct accordingly.

    The ones who will come out of this badly are those who are seen to have been playing politics with a very sensitive issue.

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  • 64. At 00:15am on 19 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:

    I have to announce the sad demise of journalism as we oldies used to know it. This from the Times

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article6801186.ece

    The number of errors in this report is frankly incredible, and it is difficult to understand why any newspaper would pay a journalist for this twaddle.

    "The High Court ....granted his application to abandon his appeal against conviction. The White House responded ...."

    The White House made its point prior to the Court's decision - and simply on the basis of media reports.

    "Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, is considering two requests from the Libyan authorities". No it isn't. There is one request from libya for a prisoner transfer, and another from Megrahi for release on compassionate grounds.

    "According to a poll carried out at the weekend" - Fabulous! Anyone remember whose poll that was?

    etc etc

    According to the website "Journalisted" http://www.journalisted.com/charlene-sweeney Charlene Sweeney is a "journalist" with no email address(!) who writes regularly for the Times/Sunday Times primarily on "Glasgow" and "Megrahi" than anything else.

    Chances are that this is simply a fake name created by some staffer on the Times who has less knowledge than the posters here.

    I'd be delighted if "she" posted a rebuttal!!!

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  • 65. At 00:17am on 19 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    60. At 11:57pm on 18 Aug 2009, deanthetory wrote:

    "Just merely sick to death of people like Electric Hermit mouthing off about evil tory conspiracies..."

    I'm certain you would much prefer that people like myself desist from pointing out how the Tories have got into bed with the British Labour Party. But you really should stop fretting about it. The "secret" was out a long time ago.

    And I think if you check you will find that you were the one to use the term "evil" in relation to the Tories. It is not an expression I would ever employ.

    "Its just not grown up at all."

    46. At 10:51pm on 18 Aug 2009, deanthetory wrote:

    42. Electric Hermit

    You are below contempt.


    Grown up, did you say?

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  • 66. At 00:22am on 19 Aug 2009, GrassyKnollington wrote:

    Brownedov, well done for bringing Jim Murphy's angry British nationalist fanbase out of the closet.

    NCA999's anti SNP rhetoric is delicious. It's like a little Glen Campbell cake with hootsmon icing and a Daily Telegraph cherry on top.

    Yum.

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  • 67. At 00:28am on 19 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #62 deanthetory

    Thanks for the correction. I was puzzled! To be honest, I don't think any of the parties have adjusted to the realities of minority government - which I would be happy to see continue, instead of one party/coalition railroading their priorities through Parliament.

    The SNP and Tories have been smarter on this than Lab/LD, but we really need to move to a position where each of the parties is arguing for their priorities in spending at the election, rather than the outdated concept of "manifesto commitments". Thus we could have a rational negotiation between all the parties as to the best balance between spending priorities and the consequent revenue stream required.

    The UK Parliament does not appear to be a model which Scotland should emulate!

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  • 68. At 00:31am on 19 Aug 2009, enneffess wrote:

    57. At 11:51pm on 18 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:
    54. At 11:34pm on 18 Aug 2009, Neil_Small147 wrote:

    "What I am still trying to figure out is why the Scottish Government is taking such a huge political risk over one person."

    The Scottish Government did not contrive this situation. They inherited it. It wasn't Alex Salmond who signed the Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA)with Libya, it was Tony "The Weasel" Blair.

    And not even the worst of the Tory/BLP propagandists has suggested that the SNP gave al-Megrahi prostate cancer. YET!

    Given the fact of the PTA, there was always going to be an application for repatriation. Given the fact of al-Megrahi's medical condition, there was always going to be an application for compassionate release. The Scottish Government simply has to deal with the issue. Which is exactly what they are doing - despite the petty politicking of the unionist cabal.

    "They are also showing naivety in Government when dealing with major issues."

    Naivety? Or a fresh approach by which the SNP seeks to distance itself from the corrupt and totally discredited "old politics" of the British Labour Party and their Tory allies.

    -----------------

    Please step back and look at this logically.

    The SNP ARE being naive here. I'm not criticising their decision to look at the case from a legal point of view. If there has been a miscarriage of justice then it needs dealt with. Law always comes before politics.

    Why did MacAskill have to see the prisoner. This is a man who - as it stands legally - is guilty of the worst terrorist atrocity on UK soil. He could have quite properly not visited him stating that it may be setting a precedent.

    As for Alex Salmond and Daegeo - it was a mistake and he knows it. We all know the importance of the drinks industry to Scotland, no argument about that. But he goes out in public and states "this is not acceptable to the people of Scotland!" You do not deal with global corporations like that. Such discussions are held out of the public eye. And he too has now set a precendent in that if a company decides to get rid of a few hundred jobs, people will expect him out there as well.

    The Megrahi issue has political maneouvering behind it, no doubt. But as I keep saying MacAskill has fallen into a trap. As for his medical condition, some people argue for compassion - others will argue against this since 270 people weren't shown compassion. Again, legally Megrahi is guilty at this moment.

    My main point to - make it clear - is that cabinet ministers do not preotest on the street, nor do they visit prisoners before they have to make a legal decision.

    I want the Megrahi situation cleared up legally and correctly. But politics is well in there and whatever MacAskill does he will be criticised for it.

    Politics is a dirty game. The SNP know the rules as well and they can be influenced. I recall they were going to regulate public transport but failed to do so. The fact they received a substantial donation is obviously a coincidence.

    Labour promised to clear up the banking industry. Like that will happen soon.......

    Cameron promised to clear up sleaze and support the NHS........then two of his colleagues open their mouths.

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  • 69. At 00:32am on 19 Aug 2009, enneffess wrote:

    62. At 11:59pm on 18 Aug 2009, deanthetory wrote:
    my sentence as per 58 "First up I would not have spent less on Education for example- because" should have read "First up I would have spent less on Education for example- because"

    Sorry.

    -------------

    Good job you're not David Cameron's speech writer! :p


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  • 70. At 00:35am on 19 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    64. At 00:15am on 19 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:

    "I have to announce the sad demise of journalism as we oldies used to know it. This from the Times"

    If you think that's bad, have a look at this,

    A disastrous debut on the world stage | Magnus Linklater - Times Online

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  • 71. At 00:35am on 19 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    65. Electric Hermit

    You have still to provide EVIDENCE of this great Labour - Tory conspiracy.
    But you still havent said who you are? Personally I think your damn nuts if you think that this close to conference season and the GE the Conservatives are "allied" to Labour.

    Do you realise that there was an NHS spat between us just this week? Or that that a GENERAL ELECTION is nine months away tops? I take it this has all escaped you given your insistence of a tory-labour alliance?

    Please, if you want to be credible say something credible.

    Oh and what is it that you found so horrid about Calman- was it its proposal for further devolution? You still havent said (or where you just blowing more hot air?)

    Signing off for the night,
    back tommorrow to continue our enjoyable little spat

    Dean

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  • 72. At 00:38am on 19 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    67. oldnat

    Yeh, sorry about that one. The website I gathered my figures from may be worth a looking at

    http://www.zimbio.com/Scotland+NEWS/articles/vSNS-Rzwt0z/EDUCATION+SPENDING+SOARS+UNDER+SNP

    And it would be nice if eventually everyone in the parliament negotiated for their share of the budget. I quite enjoy minority government (despite the 2007 election night coverage forcasting doom and gloom).

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  • 73. At 00:42am on 19 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #69 Neil_Small147

    Re dean "Good job you're not David Cameron's speech writer!" Probably no one would have noticed. However, if he'd screwed up writing Auntie Annabel's stuff????

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  • 74. At 00:42am on 19 Aug 2009, Florence wrote:

    13 - angusscot: Where have you been? FM certainly not in hiding. Has been on TV Sunday, Monday and all over Newsnight like a rash. No doubt you will be sorry you have missed him.

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  • 75. At 00:46am on 19 Aug 2009, hamish42 wrote:

    I am doubtful if the Scottish media care a damn about Megrahi. They are only concerned about making points against Salmond and McCaskill. The media's interpretation of events over the last week or so has been woefully wide of the mark. More intent in trying to sway events than interpret them accurately. The public deserve better.

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  • 76. At 00:59am on 19 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    68. At 00:31am on 19 Aug 2009, Neil_Small147 wrote:

    "Please step back and look at this logically."

    I always do.

    "The SNP ARE being naive here."

    Simply repeating something does not make it true. You have not shown any evidence of naivety. All you have done is point out that the SNP have done some things rather differently to the way the "old guard" would have gone about it. Given the atrocious mess that the "old guard" made, that may well be a good thing.

    It is certainly true that the Tory/BLP crows, had they been in power, would have followed their customary practice of going cap-in-hand to "big business" only to convey their platitudes to the people. Instead, Salmond represented the views of the Scottish people to "big business". He acted as our spokesman, not theirs. I fail to see why he should be condemned for that. More power to him, I say!

    "Why did MacAskill have to see the prisoner."

    Because he is acting in this matter in a quasi-judicial capacity and apparently considered that he needed to hear what al-Megrahi had to say in order to properly fulfil this role.

    There is nothing intrinsically wrong with setting a precedent. Especially if it is a case of putting the interests of justice before political expediency. MacAskill is to be applauded for doing what he thought necessary despite the implications for his own political skin.

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  • 77. At 01:03am on 19 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #75 hamish42

    Actually, the public probably get better. It's only the political geeks like us who actually read this tosh. Not reading the print media is probably a better decision!

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  • 78. At 01:36am on 19 Aug 2009, romeplebian wrote:

    why is my post being referred , it was praising Brian for once, this is a public forum which I in part pay for so please show it as I have not even received an email

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  • 79. At 01:37am on 19 Aug 2009, Gaavster wrote:

    All of the 'out of control' comments being attributed to the SNP's handling of this particularly sensitive matter, on this blog and elsewhere in the media are completely unsubstantiated and are purely politically biased conjecture....

    As far as i can see the SNP so far would appear to have applied due diligence in this matter. The BBC and other sections of the Media have served to try and provide the running 'out of control' mantra, utilising the old mind trick of 'if you tell somebody something often enough, then they will believe it'

    I am confident that the 'correct' decision will be made, IN DUE COURSE

    That is, after the proper protocols and procedures have been followed and the evidence available from all parties has been analysed.

    Dont expect an answer because a rabid press pack demand it, there is too much at stake here to bow down to them.



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  • 80. At 06:11am on 19 Aug 2009, Tom wrote:

    Personally, I understand that questions must still be answered and that Megrahi was the sole individual arrested for the attacks. I have a feeling Megrahi may have been involved, but I doubt Megrahi was the sole individual involved. The man shall be dead soon, we have no clue what actually happened and who was involved. Is there real reason to continue to hold Megrahi? It's clear this case will never go further or things would have came into the picture sooner, but I certainly do not want to fund this mans medical or prison care and will be disappointed at funding a plane to carry his body home... what more do we want? He's dying now and will spend most of that time in bed once the cancer worsens.

    I believe the British Government intended to release Megrahi, hence why an agreement was reached with Libya concerning prisoner transfers. The Americans I believe, want Megrahi to remain as I always expect them to be seen to back their citizens and the Scottish Goverment has been left to make a very unpopular decision, no matter what they actually decide.

    You release them, the peoples relatives will be angry, the Americans will be angry and the people will loose confidence as the case really went no where and acheived little.

    You allow the man to remain. The British Government and Government of Libya will be angry, the people of Scotland will be left to foot the bill for everything which no one would enjoy.

    Capital punishment would have handled this issue a long time ago... sorted!

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  • 81. At 07:40am on 19 Aug 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    #68 – Neil, yes, let's look at this logically:

    "Why did MacAskill have to see the prisoner? This is a man who - as it stands legally - is guilty of the worst terrorist atrocity on UK soil. He could have quite properly not visited him stating that it may be setting a precedent."

    As has been repeatedly pointed out, Megrahi is hardly an ordinary prisoner. Consideration of compassionate release isn't a matter of hard facts, it's all opinion and discretion. I think MacAskill should be lauded for dealing with this in person. I'm sure if I were ever in the position of requiring to apply for compassionate release, I would rather have the opportunity to speak to the man who’ll make the decision in person.

    "I keep saying MacAskill has fallen into a trap. As for his medical condition, some people argue for compassion - others will argue against this since 270 people weren't shown compassion. Again, legally Megrahi is guilty at this moment."

    MacAskill hasn't fallen into any trap, it was inevitable that he would need to deal with this (and didn't you actually concede that fact in an earlier post?). Megrahi's guilt or otherwise is irrelevant in this matter. The Justice Secretary has an obligation to consider both an application for compassionate release and one for prisoner transfer regardless of Megrahi's crime.

    I appreciate your judgement is coloured by your emotions on this issue, Neil, but you aren't looking at this rationally. I suggest you do so before commenting again.

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  • 82. At 08:50am on 19 Aug 2009, Caledonian54 wrote:

    Speaking as someone with a more or less direct interest in this business in that I happened to spend that particular Christmas literally helping pick up the pieces, I am dismayed (but not particularly surprised) by the political furore which has nothing to do with the matter in hand and everything to do with trying to present the Scottish government in a bad light.

    Mr MacAskill has a difficult decision to make, not least due to the barrage of criticism and unwanted advice from those on all sides of the political spectrum who have the glorious luxury of not having to make that decision.

    That decision has to be made not because he sat up one fine day and wondered whether it might be a good idea to release Mr Megrahi, but because an application was made for his release which the law requires him to consider properly. As others have pointed out above this is no ordinary case and consequently no ordinary prisoner. It is therefore incumbent upon Mr MacAskill to establish all of the relevant information and if he considered that in order to do so he needed to interview Mr Megrahi personally then that is a matter for him.

    Ultimately it has to be remembered that at the end of the day the release or continued incarceration of Mr Megrahi is not a question of party political policy – something which Mr MacaAskill’s critics are wilfully ignoring.

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  • 83. At 09:18am on 19 Aug 2009, Diabloandco wrote:

    Best post Caledonian54.

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  • 84. At 09:28am on 19 Aug 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    I am going to bring up this subject again: what proof is there that he has cancer, and, if he does, is the cancer treatable? So far I cannot find anywhere, in the public domain, any proof that he has terminal cancer. I have only read reports in the media that he has cancer but I have not seen any reference to who has said that he has terminal cancer. If anyone can point me in the right direction then I would be happy to change my mind on this. I know a little bit about prostrate cancer as my uncle had it once. He went into hospital and was sorted out. The point I'm trying to put over here is:
    1. Does he really have cancer?
    2. If he does have cancer is it treatable?
    So far I have not seen any medical information relating to this. If he does have cancer and it is treatable then we are being fed half lies by the government (Scottish/UK)/media which would lead me to think that this is a ruse to get the libyan back home.
    If he does have terminal cancer which is untreatable then we have a situation where compassion may be a tool that can be used to allow this man to return home. However, there are a couple of other points, relating to this, which should be taken into account:
    1. Is the man guilty of the offence? If he is and has murdered all those people then justice demands that he spends the rest of his life in our prisons. This is only fair. Why should we show compassion to a man who showed no compassion to his victims? If he is guilty then let him rot in jail.
    2. Is the man innocent of the offence? If he is innocent then there should be an appeal to allow him to bring forward any information that will allow an innocent man to be freed. This is where it starts to get a little tricky and muddy. If he is innocent then there has been a huge miscarriage of justice in which someone, somewhere knows the truth of this. There may be governments (UK, USA and Libya. It may even be that Iran and Syria have their fingers in this pie too.) who may not wish the truth to be revealed for their own reasons. If the man is innocent then he should not be in a Scottish jail.
    So, we are left with truely muddied waters with no sign of the waters clearing soon.

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  • 85. At 10:10am on 19 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #84 gedguy2

    Does he have prostate cancer?

    The High Court certainly accepted that as fact in November 2008, when they refused his bail application following "a report by a consultant clinical oncologist shown to us".

    Conspiracists (I'm not including you as one) may say "How do we know that the oncologist (or even the judges) are not in the pay of MI5, CIA etc" but that question may have been suggested to them by messages from Mars.

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  • 86. At 10:18am on 19 Aug 2009, portcharlotte wrote:

    Re media treatment of the issue. Linklater in his Times article, playing to aUK audience, was clearly more interested in ‘exposing’ the inexperience and weakness of the SNP Government in his view than constructively resolving the issue.
    It maybe that the UK Government would be pleased to see Megrahi’s release but because of the public opposition, particularly from the USA, are content that the decision is elsewhere. Not me Guv it was them.
    What role are the USA playing. Publically they are strident in opposition to release. Maybe privately they are in the same frame of mind as the UK Government content that the release happens, doesn’t interfere with Global politics or oil trade and have someone else to blame for the decision, thereby assuaging their outraged public.
    What is Clinton actually saying in private to MacAskill? Is it a bullying repetition of her public statements or is she being supportive in a difficult situation. Isn’t it the American way to ‘buy’ the support they need. Is she offering MacAskill/Salmond any form of support/aid/investment to help them reach the right decision. The right decision will only be known to them in private. We the Scottish public or the American public will likely never know. In the future a substantial flow of US investment into Scotland, support for independence, pressure on the UK Government to act honourably over North Sea oil revenues might be indicators to come.

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  • 87. At 10:24am on 19 Aug 2009, skint wrote:

    #35 NCA999

    "I, like everyone else in Scotland, disagrees with your position."

    How dare you speak for me, just who do you think you are that you can make such ludicrous statements?

    #82 Caledonian54

    A fair and balanced post, why cant our politicians view it in such a grown up manner?

    #84 gedguy2

    With regard to Megrahis medical condition I believe this was raised yesterday in court by his lawyers who provided the relevant documentation to the panel, so I do not believe it is a ruse.

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  • 88. At 10:32am on 19 Aug 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 85 oldnat

    'The High Court certainly accepted that as fact in November 2008, when they refused his bail application following "a report by a consultant clinical oncologist shown to us".'
    Ok, I'm willing to accept now that he has cancer but does the report state that he has untreatable terminal cancer? The bit that I am wary of is that just because a report by a consultant oncologist states that he has cancer does not necessarily mean that it is untreatable. Do you have the answer to that point or some site that I can visit to find this out for myself? I am more than happy to take the word of a consultant oncologist as I can see no political gain for the consultant to take anyone's side in this.

    'Conspiracists (I'm not including you as one)'
    That's very kind of you but I would happily put myself in the field of 'sceptical and suspicious' of any governments' releases when it comes to international affairs.

    'How do we know that the oncologist (or even the judges) are not in the pay of MI5, CIA etc" but that question may have been suggested to them by messages from Mars.'
    Now we have extra-planetal (If there is such a word) considerations to take into account. We should stop those Martians from interferring in this; I suggest that we call this policy a 'Mars Bar'.

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  • 89. At 10:46am on 19 Aug 2009, Irish_Iris wrote:

    According to RTE today at

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0819/lockerbie.html

    the US government is dictating to the Scottish Government:

    "'It's the policy of this administration as enunciated...by Secretary of State (Hillary) Clinton, that this individual should serve out his term where he's serving it right now,' said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs."

    Time you had representation at the UN to protect yourselves against this kind of thing. Of course, you have to be independent for that.

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  • 90. At 10:47am on 19 Aug 2009, spartans11 wrote:

    I was going to post a reply to Neil_Small but #81 and 82 have covered most of it.

    If I had this decision to make, I would wish to see for myself the physical and mental condition of Megrahi. The other stuff about MacAskill influencing him to drop his appeal doesn't stand scrutiny when applying the rules of politics you, yourself stated. Get a proxy to do the dirty deed and stand back, MacAskill not understanding this is beyond belief. So, that leaves us with MacAskill having a difficult decision and wishing to check for himself. You say do it in private, but any attempt to do so would surely have found it's way into the media and made the visit look shady.

    I think the scottish government have been as open as possible about this case, whilst at the same time attempting to allow the process to contimue without undue influence. All those demanding statements and the recall of Holyrood are in fact attempting to interfere and exert undue influence on a judicial process. This is a decision for the Justice Secretary and he will be held to account for that decision when it's made. The SNP are acting as a mature goverment with a gravitas sadly missing from the feverish rantings of some other parties. The most amazing being the Tories latest recruit, who despite being a Q.C., appears not to understand the Scottish legal system.

    p.s. gedguy2, why would you expect to see medical records available for perusal over the internet? I know the NHS are pretty lax with security and data protection but it would be quite astonishing to see individual medical records being published.

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  • 91. At 11:01am on 19 Aug 2009, spartans11 wrote:

    #88 gedguy2

    That's probably the hardest part of the decision for MacAskill and probaly why he felt the need to see for himself what condition Megrahi is actually in. How long a patient will survive is a mix of conjecture and experience. My grandfather was given 3 months and lasted over 4 years. My aunt was given 6 months and lasted 2 weeks. MacAskill must satisfy himself that the end is near, just look at how long Jack Straw deliberated over the Biggs decision.

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  • 92. At 11:14am on 19 Aug 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 90 spartans11

    'why would you expect to see medical records available for perusal over the internet'
    I don't. However, I am not willing to take the word of the media in this case. It has been pointed out to me by Oldnat and skintybroko that a report has been submitted to the courts. Fair enough, I am more than willing to accept that. Now I would like to know if the cancer is treatable or untreatable as this reflects on the case put before the Justice Secretary MacAskill. It is easy for information put to the courts and released by the media for a 'spin' to be put on it. I just want to clear this up so that there is no doubt to the medical condition of this man. It is quite possible that, if the cancer was not treated, it would be terminal. I just want to know if the cancer which this man has is treatable or not. If it is treatable then the cancer should be treated within the rules of the Scottish prison service and it should have no bearing upon the case. If the cancer is treatable then why is the media saying that it is terminal, when, in reality, it is not?
    I just want to clear this point up to try and unmuddy the waters around this case.

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  • 93. At 11:17am on 19 Aug 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    morning all, I cant believe some of you are asking does he really have cancer! I would suggest one of the results ,not the main reason, but one of the results of the justice secretary's visit to greenock jail is he would have seen how ill or otherwise Mr Megrahi actually was . if his cancer is as advanced as reported it would not have been a pretty site and no he would not be able to be "faking it". terminal cancer is not a joke and the people suggesting otherwise on this blog should be ashamed of themselves.
    on a brighter note- I say once the USA release the secret information regarding this whole case Then and only then, should they have the right to make any demands about what another democratically elected country does or doesn't do!
    Sid

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  • 94. At 11:18am on 19 Aug 2009, Lily_Hammer wrote:

    #20 northhighlander

    "(...) 4 or 5 days should be enough to deliberate in a thoughtful way."

    Megrahi can only be sent home under a prisoner-transfer agreement when there are no legal matters involving him outstanding, and there is still an appeal by the authorities against the leniency of his sentence to be resolved.

    This issue is in principle expected to be decided at a court hearing scheduled for September 8th. If anyone is "dithering", therefore, it is not the Justice Secretary.

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  • 95. At 11:42am on 19 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    92. At 11:14am on 19 Aug 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    "I just want to clear this point up to try and unmuddy the waters around this case."


    The one thing that is not "muddy" is the fact that al-Megrahi satisfies the stringent criteria for consideration for compassionate release. If this were not so, then his application would not have been allowed to proceed.

    My understanding is that release is only considered in cases of massively debilitating illness or a terminal condition where survival is not expected to exceed three months.

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  • 96. At 11:47am on 19 Aug 2009, skint wrote:

    #94 Lily_Hammer

    So prisoner tranfer is effectively off the table for those that want a quick decision.

    Prisoner transfer would surely be a reasonable compromise, he is still incarcerated, he is close to his family, and Libya pick up the tab for his medical expenses which will be considerable. But if it is not an option open to the Justice Secretary he is even more stuck between a rock and a hard place, I certainly dont envy him his place in history.



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  • 97. At 12:03pm on 19 Aug 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    This is amazing stuff. The more the US Secreary of State tries to interfere in Scotland's legal process in which she has no business the more political significance she gives to Kenny Macaskill and the Scottish Government...... and the more sensible people realise that there is and has been a continuous campaign going on here to supress the truth.

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  • 98. At 12:23pm on 19 Aug 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    I notice in a Canadian report that a Mr Gaddafi of Tripoli is celebrating in the very near future the 40th anniversary of his arrival at the pinnacle of political power in those parts. The date mentioned is September 1st.

    Spelling it out further: eccentric authoritarian head of state planning humongous anniversary party for himself in Tripoli, at which the guest of honour is expected to be . . .

    Unaccustomed though I be to offering advice to justice secretaries, I think it not unreasonable to be so bold as to do so on this occasion: remember, remember the 1st of September.

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  • 99. At 12:32pm on 19 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #88 gedguy2

    Clearly being a Scottish case, it needs to be a deep-fried Mars Bar (or given the involvement of the intelligence agencies, maybe Deep Throat).

    You can find the High Court ruling on the bail application in Nov 2008 here

    http://www.firmmagazine.com/news/1143/Bail_denied_for_Megrahi_despite_terminal_cancer_prognosis.html

    Their judgement was that his cancer was not at that stage sufficiently advanced to warrant release, and might never be. It "depends crucially on his response to hormonal treatment, a palliative treatment which he has now commenced."

    It was reported in the press this week that McAskill received a report on Friday from 3 surgeons at Greenock Hospital had now deteriorated to the point that he was not expected to live more than 3 months, but I have no access to confirmation of this.

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  • 100. At 1:04pm on 19 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    98. At 12:23pm on 19 Aug 2009, [url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/profile?userid=13636627]frankly_francophone[/url] wrote:

    "Spelling it out further: eccentric authoritarian head of state planning humongous anniversary party for himself in Tripoli, at which the guest of honour is expected to be . . .

    Unaccustomed though I be to offering advice to justice secretaries, I think it not unreasonable to be so bold as to do so on this occasion: remember, remember the 1st of September."


    While I am sure Kenny MacAskill is appropriately grateful for your advice, I'm equally certain that, even if Ghadaffi were foolish enough to jeopardise future prisoner transfers, any agreement on al-Megrahi's repatriation would certainly impose conditions on the manner of his return to Libya.

    Besides which, I rather doubt if a man in the terminal stages of prostate cancer is in any condition to partaaay.

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  • 101. At 1:05pm on 19 Aug 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #66 GrassyKnollington
    "NCA999's anti SNP rhetoric is delicious. It's like a little Glen Campbell cake with hootsmon icing and a Daily Telegraph cherry on top. Yum."
    You have eclectic tastes but point taken.

    #77 oldnat
    "It's only the political geeks like us who actually read this tosh."
    Sad but true.

    Just popped in at lunchtime between meetings, but I'm surprised nobody has yet mentioned today's silence from the BBC on the subject and the contrasting styles of today's articles in Scotland's "quality" papers.

    The Scotsman's Alex Salmond paves the way for Megrahi release is true to recent form, replete with video of Mrs Clinton and rentaquotes from the exhumed Murphy and Ian Rankin, who's repeating last year's dabble into politics at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. A few of the comments are worth a read.

    In contrast, the uncommentable Herald's Megrahi drops appeal as MacAskill looks sets to grant transfer is substantially more balanced and includes some quotes from the "Libyan judge, who was in court yesterday as an "observer" to the hearing". Not too sure about their Ramadan fasting concerns, though, as there are special rules for the sick and the displaced.

    TTFN

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 102. At 1:27pm on 19 Aug 2009, crazyislander wrote:

    It seems Megrahi's cancer is of the prostate. Prostate cancer of itself whilst unpleasant does not cause death. It is the spread of the disease to other organs that does but this takes a very long time as cancer of the prostate generally grows very slowly. Has Megrahi's cancer spread? If so to where? If it has spread to major organs he would be in severe pain and would require round the clock, intensive nursing and intravenous pain relief via a pump. Interestingly, Greenock Jail has no doctor on permanent staff other than a visiting GP. The nursing staff consist of a couple of male nurses with an assistant or two. He has been to Inverclyde Royal Hospital and subsequently discharged. As far as I know, he has not been to the Beatson Oncology Department at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow for radio/chemo therapy. This is standard procedure.

    I therefore have the most serious doubts about his actual condition. If he had cancer of the bowel for example it would be open and shut and letting go home to die would be appropriate. All this doesn't add up, the word, 'cancer' is emotive and dare I even suspect we are being gulled here???? To paraphrase Harry Truman, I'm from Scotland and you'll have to show me.

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  • 103. At 1:37pm on 19 Aug 2009, enneffess wrote:

    #81 fortean

    I am trying to look at this from a factual point of view, which is difficult to ascertain given the more lurid media comments.

    I do accept that the Justice Secretary is trying to make a legal decision, but he has been put into a POLITICAL no win situation which will be played upon.

    The other thing to remember that is while many people are pleased to see the Justice Secretary acting in a compassionate manner, there are also as many who do not wish any compassion to be shown. What view is most favoured no one knows, but likely to be down the middle.

    It is an unprecendented situation that we have here.

    One question still to be answered:

    If there is to be a prisoner transfer, who will it be?


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  • 104. At 2:07pm on 19 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #103 Neil_Small147

    "If there is to be a prisoner transfer, who will it be?"

    Do you think anyone would notice if we sent them Murphy instead?

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  • 105. At 2:26pm on 19 Aug 2009, crazyislander wrote:

    hmmm, he does resemble a camel

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  • 106. At 2:28pm on 19 Aug 2009, spartans11 wrote:

    #104 oldnat

    Has the transfer already happened? Ayone seen Gordon Brown lately? Maybe they got a BOGOF deal with Brown and Murphy

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  • 107. At 2:30pm on 19 Aug 2009, U11769947 wrote:

    Not that I want to show any disrespect to this thread however on the NR blog a thread has been written, that the vast majority on this thread would want to challenge.

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  • 108. At 3:01pm on 19 Aug 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    #102 crazyhighlander - the Beatson moved to the Gartnavel Hospital site more than a year ago! you will just have to take my word for it,but as I attend it every 6 months I might just know what I am talking about.
    whilst his primary cancer may indeed be his prostate I would suggest the chances of the cancer spreading may be high. every one is different and how they react to any treatment or indeed the cancer itself is just as different. he has been told he has 3 months to live by 3 different specialists ,what more is it you want?
    Sid

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  • 109. At 3:16pm on 19 Aug 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #107 Hi derek, nice to know you haven't forgotten us.

    #104 oldnat
    As long as we can have him back to face sentence at the GE. Ah that Portillo moment!
    I've finished my purely Scottish results calculator and it gives Con 1, Lab 36, Lib 5, SNP17 on the YouGov 17:28:16:31 but if you've any suggestions as to how to calculate sqeeze could you let me know on quirkynats.

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  • 110. At 3:25pm on 19 Aug 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 108 sidthesceptic

    'he has been told he has 3 months to live by 3 different specialists'
    Can you supply me with the information for this statement?

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  • 111. At 3:55pm on 19 Aug 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    #100 Electric Hermit

    You evidently have no very deep understanding of the nature of the Libyan regime, you poor innocent.

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  • 112. At 4:56pm on 19 Aug 2009, crazyislander wrote:

    108 sidthesceptic

    Ah, so you have Megrahi's case notes to hand? Good good, how are his teeth? I'm assuming you have his dental records too. As to the Beatson moving to Gartnavel, I did not know this. Hope you can get a parking place when you go there. Seems a bit rich moving it there when they've spent millions building the unit at the Western. However, that's Greater Glasgow Health Board for ya.

    I have never met an oncologist who would dream of giving anyone, 'three months to live'. How would they know, is there a little timer on the tumour(s)? And if three of them give him three months does that mean he has nine months????? In fact most clinicians would never say how long a person has to live unless of course his name is Kevorkian!


    Re Greenock Prison, as I said before, if he is gravely ill, this is not the place for him. They are most assuredly NOT equipped and staffed for palliative care. Go on, ask the the Scottish Prison Service. Haven't you been watching the Ronnie Biggs thing???? He is in hospital and doesn't have the benefit of three unusually verbose 'specialists'.

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  • 113. At 5:45pm on 19 Aug 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    #103 - "I do accept that the Justice Secretary is trying to make a legal decision, but he has been put into a POLITICAL no win situation which will be played upon."

    Whilst I accept that the Unionists are trying to play this for all its worth, I seriously think they're failing miserably to actually do any damage.

    It may be callous to say this but speak to the man in the street and they don't really care one way or t'other. The likes of you and I may be caught up on it all but we, and others on this blog, are not most people. However, the Unionist rhetoric does run the risk of damaging the unionists themselves more than MacAskill/the SNP.

    Paul McBride's nonsense, for example, is being held up as a mirror to the tories true beliefs and feelings towards Scotland, and it's not good. Much of Auntie Bella's good work has been undone by McBride's assertion that Scotland isn't good enough, intelligent enough or big enough to make these tough decisions and that they should be made by Westminster. Although in stark contrast to Call-me-Dave's call for mutual respect, I know many who mistrusted Cameron and have had their fears confirmed by McBride. The tories could show that McBride isn't representative of their views by ditching him as an adviser but I'll be surprised if that happens.

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  • 114. At 6:03pm on 19 Aug 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #113 ForteanJo

    Well said, particularly re McBride and the Tories. I'll be interested to see what Dean has to say on that topic. I'm less sure the same arguments will work with current NuLab voters, or at least not until their Westmidden government finally goes.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 115. At 6:24pm on 19 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    114. At 6:03pm on 19 Aug 2009, Brownedov wrote:
    #113 ForteanJo


    He isnt representative of modern torism.

    Scottish Conservatives are not an evil party made up of devils inhumanly imagined in only childhood nightmares. This is just silly- and if this person has indeed said Scotland cant handle independence then he is not worth comment, just ignore these idiots to the sidelines of serious politics.

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  • 116. At 7:08pm on 19 Aug 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #115 deanthetory
    "He isnt representative of modern torism."

    I have no doubt you believe that and strongly suspect that Aunty Bella does, too, but ForteanJo makes a good point in suggesting that others will see all the McBride coverage [see Google news] including "on the record" direct quotes and jump to the conclusion that's what the "real" Tory party represents, especially if they've seen Dr. Swire and Rev. Mosey express their concerns about the trial result.

    Unlike Hannan's views, which can be explained in terms of "value for money", with McBride you'll need to do some "damage limitation" sooner or later.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 117. At 10:44pm on 19 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    111. At 3:55pm on 19 Aug 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    "You evidently have no very deep understanding of the nature of the Libyan regime, you poor innocent."

    Not surprisingly, I remain totally unimpressed by you entirely unsupported claim to superior knowledge. And even less surprised by your inability to dispute the facts.

    Step back from the digging implement, fool.

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  • 118. At 10:47pm on 19 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    113. At 5:45pm on 19 Aug 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    "Whilst I accept that the Unionists are trying to play this for all its worth, I seriously think they're failing miserably to actually do any damage."

    I think "failing miserably" may be something the Unionist Alliance can only aspire to.

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  • 119. At 11:01pm on 19 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    115. At 6:24pm on 19 Aug 2009, deanthetory wrote:

    "Scottish Conservatives are not an evil party..."

    Scottish Conservatives are just a fringe party of little relevance. In the Scottish Parliament they have had to get into bed with the British Labour Party's placemen in order to feel important.

    Annabel Goldie is the saddest case of all. A decent person who has sacrificed her dignity and her principles to serve a party that has so little respect for her as to demand that she associate herself with the likes of George Foulkes. Shame!

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  • 120. At 11:28pm on 19 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    Electric Hermit

    "Scottish Conservatives are just a fringe party of little relevance."

    In a Holyrood parliament with minority government this is an extraordinarily complacent attitude. Its to your parties favour that you are not an elected representative for them. Consensus is in my opinion more important than any of your bombast.

    "Annabel Goldie is the saddest case of all."

    Entitled to your opinion, but naturally I shall beg to differ. I think that she has done more than anyone to move Scottish Conservativism back to the centre ground of Scottish politics, and widening its appeal than any previous leader.

    "sacrificed her dignity and her principles to serve a party that has so little respect for her"

    Provide evidence for this statement or withdraw it. Do you even have evidence (or is it all a mixture of conjecture and the odd newsclipping you've dug up?)

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  • 121. At 00:12am on 20 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    120. At 11:28pm on 19 Aug 2009, deanthetory wrote:

    "Its to your parties favour that you are not an elected representative for them."

    Another bit of advice. Get yourself a style guide and look up "apostrophe". What you learn will stand you in good stead when you go to the big school.

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  • 122. At 00:43am on 20 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    121. Electric Hermit

    I notice you have no evidence. I shall ask again.

    Please substantiate your claims that:

    a) the Conservatives in Scotland are in "allance" (your word) with Labour with the aim of "undermining" the Scottish government.

    b) that Annabel Goldie has "sacrificed her principals" by being a Scottish Conservative.

    If you are unable to provide evidence for these claims (other than vaguely reference "the media")- please understand why you are not really serious. Anyone can make claims, stirr up rumours, and then rebut with insults.

    Your insults are only further evidence of your inability to provide evidence for your case.


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  • 123. At 01:01am on 20 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    122. At 00:43am on 20 Aug 2009, deanthetory wrote:

    "that Annabel Goldie has "sacrificed her principals"..."

    "Principals"? Shurely shum mishtake!

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  • 124. At 01:13am on 20 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    123. Electric Hermit

    Still no evidence. Still no proof for your rumours and assumptions.

    Its all rather revealing.

    Still waiting for your proof however (if you have any that is)

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  • 125. At 01:18am on 20 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    124. At 01:13am on 20 Aug 2009, deanthetory wrote:

    "Its all rather revealing."

    Can you prove that?

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  • 126. At 01:29am on 20 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    125. Electric Hermit

    Well I'd say your failure to support your assertions with evidence is rather revealing about your methods

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  • 127. At 01:33am on 20 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    Its been strangely enjoyable talking with you again Electric Hermit.

    Hope to speak to you again

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  • 128. At 01:36am on 20 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    126. At 01:29am on 20 Aug 2009, deanthetory wrote:

    "Well I'd say..."

    I've managed to teach you about apostrophes. No need to thank me.

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  • 129. At 01:40am on 20 Aug 2009, Electric Hermit wrote:

    127. At 01:33am on 20 Aug 2009, deanthetory wrote:

    "Its been strangely enjoyable talking with you again Electric Hermit.

    Hope to speak to you again"


    Next time we can cover the difference between "principle" and "principal". Always happy to help.

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  • 130. At 02:33am on 20 Aug 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    Dislexia.

    And still waiting for you to back up your argument with facts.

    Struggling to turn your assertions into backed-up facts? Take your time. I'm a student with all the time in the world (in between Stirling pub crawls)

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  • 131. At 03:33am on 20 Aug 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Brian:

    I think that there will be a deal....Regarding the Lockerbie Bomber and his released from prison....

    NB: I am associated/affiliated with the Syracuse, New York where some of the Passengers on PanAm103 were attending Syracuse University...

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 132. At 12:14pm on 20 Aug 2009, deadgoatsociety wrote:

    #113 ForteanJo,

    I'm not so sure about the man on the street not caring one way or the other. I think there will be a strong negative reaction if this man is released.

    However, this is not a decision that should be taken with an eye on how the public will receive it. It should be a decision made on the grounds of justice considerations alone and I'm sure that's what will happen. At the end of the day, if Mr McAskill can make his decision with a clear conscience, then he will have done the right thing - regardless of the public response.

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  • 133. At 03:49am on 23 Aug 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    **UPDATE**

    Brian:

    There was a deal in the case of The Lockerbie Bomber!!!!!

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 134. At 7:01pm on 27 Aug 2009, scorpioRicardo wrote:

    110. At 3:25pm on 19 Aug 2009, gedguy2 wrote:
    # 108 sidthesceptic

    'he has been told he has 3 months to live by 3 different specialists'
    Can you supply me with the information for this statement?

    Use your Google finger better, within 5 minutes I managed to locate copies of the original discussion documents sent to Kenny MaCaskill from Greenock Prison's governor. As it contains medical data, certain names have been hidden for pretty obvious reasons but it does show that in addition to the prison's medical officer, two different Consultant Oncologists and two Consultant Urologists (most likely from Inverclyde Infirmary or the Beatson Oncology Unit) concurred in their opinions that he had advanced metastatic prostate cancer. It

    It went on to explain that the disease was hormone resistant and therefore deemed as incurable. Most interesting is the inclusion of the medical opinion from a Libyan Professor of Endocrinology (MB FRCPEd) had arrived at the same medical conclusion.

    So there you have 5 specialists - the required three, plus 2 to spare. You didn't really think they were making this up did you? There was no way this wasn't ever going to be checked and no Justice Secretary would make a statement without being certain he had back up evidence.

    As Kenny MaCaskill said, he's not a medical expert so he needed to rely on the opinions of those who are.


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