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First thoughts

Laura Kuenssberg | 16:10 UK time, Tuesday, 25 August 2009

In front of the cameras in the grandeur of the pillar room in No 10, the PM could not refuse to comment.

Gordon brownIn an answer that appeared to have been carefully planned as you would expect, Mr Brown said that his first thoughts were always with the families of those who lost their lives in the Lockerbie bombing.

And on the reception that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi received in Libya, the PM said he had been "angry and repulsed".

But on the inevitable question over what he thought of the decision to release of Megrahi well we are not any clearer.

Mr Brown said he had told Colonel Gaddafi that the Westminster government had no role in the decision over Megrahi.

And that as it was a matter for the devolved parliament, and a quasi judicial one at that (not something that Downing Street has chosen to highlight in recent days) the UK government "had no control and could not interfere".

The PM denied that UK relations with other nations had been undermined by Kenny MacAskill's decision.

So will it stop the opposition parties asking what the PM thinks of the decision?

Probably not, but by taking questions on the controversial release of the Lockerbie bomber, Mr Brown can no longer be accused of being the invisible man.

PS Due to a mistyping, an earlier version of this post read "Lebanon" where it should obviously have read "Libya". Apologies.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    This wont stop any questions. He didn't actually say anything. All that will happen now is the other parties will respond even more that he has said nothing on the subject of any value.

  • Comment number 2.

    Laura, you omitted this littel gem from an Israeli spokesman hours before the Netanhayu visit:

    Following Mr Brown's plea to Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi to 'act with sensitivity' when the bomber returned home, Israeli foreign-ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor-said: 'Anyone looking for discretion-and sensitivity or sensibility with Muammar Gaddafi stands a better chance of finding the Loch Ness Monster.'

  • Comment number 3.

    It's just unbelievable that it took five days to think of what to say.

    Five days in which to judge reaction before he said it. Of course he was not involved. He never has been in any decision that may be unpopular. That's someone else's job so who was his scapegoat this time apart from MacAskill?

    It is unbecoming for a man who would be PM of this country to be so well known for dithering and hiding away in a crisis.

  • Comment number 4.

    Please correct this; you say Lebanon when you mean Libya.

  • Comment number 5.

    The BBC says, "Mr Brown said: "I was both angry and I was repulsed by the reception that a convicted bomber guilty of of a huge terrorist crime received on his return to Libya."

    He added that he had made it "absolutely clear" to the Libyan leader when they met in July at the G8 summit in Italy that the decision was a matter for the Scottish government alone.
    "I was both angry and I was repulsed by the reception that a convicted bomber guilty of a huge terrorist crime received on his return to Libya."
    He said the UK could not interfere in what was a "quasi-judicial process" and could have "no control over the final outcome". "

    I don't quite understand the "quasi-judicial process" comments.

    Surely it was justified as being a judicial process, undertaken wholly within the remit of Scottish Law and Adminsitration's legal powers?

    Within the English system, Home Secretaries do play a role. (Witness the peculiar release of Ronnie Biggs!
    Does that make the English system a "quasi-judicial" process.

    I guess it may, but no more than so many aspects of government nowadays, where politicians interfere in areas they simply don't bother to think through.

    Bit like sayinjg the MoD having a "quasi-procurement process", or various Ministers have responsibility for a "quasi-educational system".

    Oh. Maybe he was right.



  • Comment number 6.

    whenever I'm in a situation (and I often am) whereby whatever I say will almost certainly do serious damage to something (or somebody) important in my life, then what I tend to do is say either ... (1) something very anodyne and non committal or ... (2) nothing

    and (2) is better (which is why Gordon tried it first)

  • Comment number 7.

    I think you mean Libya, not Lebanon.

  • Comment number 8.

    "what is the British governments position on this matter?".....silence! GB is a master at answering questions that haven't been asked and not answering those that have....

  • Comment number 9.

    International relations are certainly strained between Edinburgh and London. It's clear irate English politicians and English pundits don't have a 'scooby' about due process under Scots law. Shame on you Laura for being ignorant of quasi judicial procedures under devolution.

  • Comment number 10.

    Ah - a rock and a hard place.

    Can't criticise the SNP's decision because it closely resembled your own plans for Megrahi and can't commend it either because the American's will accuse you of being soft on terrorists andor profiteering from a "terror state"

    Whats it going to be then Gordon? So far a fledgling SNP government have managed to smash the notion that Scotland answers to you or your government. The media machine that new Labour so often use to thier advantage has shot itself in the foot.

    No-one could have seen a more ready and determined stance coming from the SNP on a decision that has monumental importance across the western hemisphere. You've given the SNP and Scotland the international recognition of soveriegnity that they wanted - and all you needed to do to stop it was tell the truth about the deal Blair made in the desert and how you felt about it.

    Your mercenary goons at Holyrood have been baying for SNP blood since Bendy got Booted and Jack got sacked. Tell me - did you not think that the Labour party would look a little foolish in waiting until after a decision was made before critiscising that legally and morally sound decision?

    You should keep a tighter reign on your dogs, Gordon, because Iain Grey will be the death of Labour in Scotland

    Your devolved puppet party the Scottish Labout party seem to be in no

  • Comment number 11.

    Brown's problem is that he is known to have paved the way for the Scottish decision. His government made it clear that there was no legal obstacle to a release.

    By doing that, it is clear to most that his government has given tacit consent to release a man who has been found guilty of blowing a plane out of the sky, killing 270 people - 41 of whom were UK citizens.

    He cannot condemn the decision to release - as his government is implicated in the process

    He can just offer weasel words about the reception back in Tripoli.

    What price a moral compass now?

  • Comment number 12.

    People in the press and opposition parties are so desperate for Brown to fail that they are apoplectic at the thought he may have a point when he says it was Scotland’s decision.

    The American's having an opinion is actually rather poor form in terms of diplomacy, but it provides a welcome 'non-telling off' distraction for an administration consistently being compared to being close to the UK in terms of healthcare.

    Even if it is politically convenient for him, you can not blame Brown for what he has said (although I am sure many will try).

  • Comment number 13.

    quick , fast , decisive and crystal clear repsonse.


    NOT

  • Comment number 14.

    Hang on a minute... "recieved in Lebanon?" Not Tripoli? Shurely Shome Mishtake??

    Only other thing is that what was he doing talking to Ghadaffi, if it was nothing to do with us? Mind you, you could ask Lord Minky the same thing... not that you'd get an answer... not a truthful one anyway.

    And what does he think he means by "quasi-judicial"? Its either a judicial matter, or it is not. What is it about this case that makes it quasi-judicial??

    Which is it Gordon?

    Or does he think that people dont know what "quasi" means? Come to think of it, those who are likely to still vote for him probably dont know what it means. Lets face it, not being able to string a coherent sentence together didnt do any harm for Prescott's political career did it?

    Lastly Laura, the only thing I have to disagree with you on is your last line; "by taking questions on the controversial release of the Lockerbie bomber, Mr Brown can no longer be accused of being the invisible man."

    Not on this singular subject perhaps. Bit like the Royal family after Diana died, it took the best part of a week to realise that there was a demand from the great unwashed for at least a statement.

    There are so many other examples of his Macavity-ness, where he has gone missing or not said anything when it has been incumbent on the Prime Minister of the day to say something, to show leadership... so many examples that it would run to pages and pages.

    He is not fit to be PM, never has been, never will be. This is a statement written by someone else, designed to try and pour oil on troubled waters and offend no-one without saying a single thing of substance.

    Par for the course for the Brown premiership... Abject ineptitude.

  • Comment number 15.

    Laura - you have been so briiliant thus far but you ae much too soft on Brown on this one. What a stupid statement he made. I mean none of us in the first place thought he would be enraptured by the bombers homecomng for goodness sake - and we all know the release is a devolved matter.So what has he actually told us - precisely zilch because he is silent on whether he agrees with the decision to relase the guy - and he's silent because he's basically a coward.No other word for it. He is using the devolution issue as a device so he can "get out of" a tricky no win situation. Since when has Gordon Brown ever before been slow in commenting on other devolved matters dealt with by the SNP .There are even planted Scotish Labour MP's quesions at PMQ's to give him an opportunity to rubbish the SNP.This decision to relelase the convicted bomber has implications for the whole of the UK - thats why he should say what he thinks.
    So I'm sory Laura - but in effect he's still hiding.

  • Comment number 16.

    It's not clear why he didn't say all this earlier, there is nothing surprising there at all.

  • Comment number 17.

    Sorry Laura - but you have let Mr Brown off a little too lightly here. As he is now back from his holidays he had no option but to comment on the issue. As I said on the last post, the release of this convicted terrorist was bound to have an effect upon our Foreign policy and it just does not wash, the excuse that this is a "devolved issue". He or his Government should have been involved all of the way through.

    Incidentally, Mr Gaddafi seems to think that our prime minister played a part in the negotiations, as he did thank him when the terrorist was returned to Libya. I know that it is possible the Gaddafi was making mischief. But who do my fellow bloggers trust more to tell the truth?

  • Comment number 18.

    (But on the inevitable question over what he thought of the decision to release of Megrahi well we are not any clearer.
    Mr Brown said he had told Colonel Gaddafi that the Westminster government had no role in the decision over Megrahi.
    And that as it was a matter for the devolved parliament, and a quasi judicial one at that (not something that Downing Street has chosen to highlight in recent days) the UK government "had no control and could not interfere")

    Yes, yes, yes Laura, we knew that, you knew that and the americans knew that as well. Just because some kind of a leader/s of the opposition wanted to try to join the band wagon (hyped by the media), and try to gain political advantage, it does not change the law, nor the decision by Scotland. Now why do you not comment about the atrocities by the CIA? Oh, Bush wasn't aware, nor is Obama. Give us a break will you! Well done Scotland.

    My world, the FTSE is nearly over the 5000 mark. Recession nearly over, and the Banks can’t keep up with new mortgages. Excellent news. Now doesn’t that put a smile on your face?
    Have a nice day Laura..

  • Comment number 19.

    I always thought that the Westminster government did foreign affairs. I mean this is where the Foreign Office and the Foreign Secretary are based.

    Bu then why should we be surprised that such a fundamental issue was delegated to the Holyrood Toon Council, who have been proved hopelessly out of their depth on the matter, when Westminster also delegated the control of the economy to a set of lunatics in the Square Mile thus bringing ruin to the entire country.

    Is there any responsibility that New Labour won't dodge? They might be in office but they are certainly not in charge.

  • Comment number 20.

    Brown is digusted at the Libyan response to his letter asking fot the return of Magahi to be low key. They ignored it.

    The big question is will he be so disgusted that he and Mandelson and Milliband will boycott the big party in Libya.

    Time will tell and it isn't so far away.

  • Comment number 21.

    No 6 Saga

    Sorry but you are not prime minister with responsibility for the Government of this country. Gordon is and as such does not have the luxury of silence or anodyne comment.

    I nearly said the Gordon had been elected to the post but of course he hasn't has he

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    So Brown was repulsed ; strangely he did not find kissing Ghadaffi on both cheeks repulsive, and this was the man who ordered and paid for the bombing of the Pan Am flight. Nor did his friend Mandellson find dining with Ghadaffi's son repulsive. The whole affair stinks of the most abyssmal hypocracy on the part of the British government.

  • Comment number 24.

    6#

    Admirable choice of action Saga, if you're a nobody, but not really an apt choice for the Son Of The Manse, with his Strong Moral Compass who thinks he was Born To Be Prime Minister.

    The PM of the day cant do that. You can. Thats why he's paid what he is. Along with political power comes responsibility. He's just confirmed he's not fit to hold office.

  • Comment number 25.

    17# The same thought struck me the other day... when the day comes when you believe that Muammar Ghadaffi or his son are speaking with tongues less forked than your own Prime Minister.... a very sad day in British history! :-)

  • Comment number 26.

    #19 stanilic

    Holyrood Toon Council

    The Scottish parliament has been in existence for over 800 years - as long as yours? Oh, where is yours? (Ours was only adjourned between 1707 and 1997...)

    So your basis for mocking is what? Because it's.... Scottish??
    Or...not "British"? (Anything less than British just doesn't bear thinking about...)

    How dare those Scots pipe up!

    Tattie.

  • Comment number 27.

    What cowardly disgraceful behaviour from our leader....a true politician, says something but says nothing. Still i believe a lose/lose situation for GB and he will be unwillingly forced ever deeper into this over the next few weeks.

    Forgetting all (very necessary) sensitivity and that McAskill and Salmond believe that the right decision has been made, a wonderful secondary result is developing for the SNP. Once again they embarass GB and NuLab over a subject that will run as long as al-Megrahi lives, which may be considerably longer than the muted three months. (However, by then they may well be gone as well).

    Who knows, this may actually be the ONE that brings him down??

  • Comment number 28.

    Tony was a born actor and could get away with it - Gordon is a real ham. Look at me I`m angry. No Gordon, your body language, especially your facil expressions, told the whole world you were being very economical with the truth. I think Gordon needs another holiday - he looks worse than ever. Not a contender for Britian`s best dressed man award either. Someone should take him to a good tailor and dress him properly.

  • Comment number 29.

    "Probably not, but by taking questions on the controversial release of the Lockerbie bomber, Mr Brown can no longer be accused of being the invisible man ..."

    Presumably only the BBC could make such an incisive (not) comment like this? I take questions all day at work in the business that I own and run. Therefore, I'm not the invisible man. Sometimes the answers I have to give require a bit of courage on my part, for fear of giving the wrong answer. However, if I spent all day cowering from answering tough questions, my business would be bankrupt within a very short period. Bit like the UK is (almost) now, I suppose?

    How does this cowardly, incompetent, embarrassment of an excuse for a prime minister get away with it?

  • Comment number 30.

    Quasi-judicial process?

    What a load of codswallop. It is either a judicial process or it is a political one. For the avoidance of doubt, judicial decisions are made by officers of the court, political decisions are made by politicians.

    This was a decision made by a politician, ergo it is a political decision. It is that simple - and the sooner politicians stop making 'quasi-judicial' decisions, the healthier the system will be.

  • Comment number 31.

    It can be a sign of strength to keep silent.
    The truth about Pan Am 103 is widely known in political and intelligence circles.
    Abdul Baset Ali Al Megrahi was a low level operative in Libyan intelligence,he was part of a wider picture.
    The truth is out there,and the stakes are enormous.
    All diplomatic means must first be exhausted.
    Premature exposure would be a signal for war.
    Wherof one cannot speak,one must remain silent

  • Comment number 32.

    Old R @ 21

    Sorry but you are not prime minister with responsibility for the Government of this country

    well true ... not yet

    as a matter of interest, what were you hoping to hear him say?

  • Comment number 33.

    #30 threnodio

    But if you are stuck with what the Tories imposed in 1991/3, then you can either get as near to avoiding political intervention as all SNP, Labour and Lib-Dem Justice Ministers have done and limit their involvement in such appeals to confirming recommendations to allow them. Or you can adopt the interference of politicians as in England - 11 appeals recommended under the guidelines in 2004-9 have been overturned by the Home Secretary.

    Different legal traditions and principles.

  • Comment number 34.

    32 Saga

    It is apparent from Mr Brown's earlier letter to the Libyans that he was well aware of the potential for a foreign policy disaster if the release of a convicted terrorist lead to celebrations in Tripoli. I would like to hear why he and his Government allowed the Scots to deal with the whole thing on their own from a "quasi" judicial and compassionate angle.

    By the way, as I said yesterday, I do not have any particular problem with letting the man go. Compassion is a strength of our society not a weakness. The man's illness is a greater punishment than some cosy Scottish cell. Easy for me to say I know, I did not lose anyone in his crime

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    HIGHER AUTHORITY?

    I recall K. MacAskill referred to the fate of Megrahi now depending on a 'higher authority' in the statement made regarding his release.

    I am surprised that K. MacAskill has not been questioned directly regarding this particular aspect as it sounded like something out of Monty Pythons - When is he going to resign?

    Perhaps someone should remind the SNP that until they hold a referendum and get a vote for Scottish Independence that their actions represent not only Scotland but the whole of the UK regarding international affairs and the relationships with the US, as our key ally and the rest of the world.

    Let's hope that the next prime minister of the 'UK' will do this due to the 'abdication' of Gordon Brown.

  • Comment number 37.

    Its been said before that five year governments do not plan for the long term and we really need some long term sensible planning now more than ever.I am quite concerned about the future this country has in front of it.

  • Comment number 38.

    We can all see a dithering unelected prime minister who cannot lead and who is now truly frightened of making any decisions. I actually thought because no-one had heard from him he was having a nervous break down.

  • Comment number 39.

    Well he had to say something and he did.

    Non commital on the issue of whether he engineered or was party to the decision to free the bomber. By the way, who else was involved in the bombing and where are they now? This Libyan could not have done it alone.

    Brown can do no right in the electorate's eyes from now until he gets the boot.

    I prefer the ITN News - it says what the lefty BBC will not - that David Cameron is 16 points ahead in the polls. You will never get old lefty Aunty saying that now will you?



  • Comment number 40.

    #33 - oldnat

    Yes, I entirely accept that as the status quo and, of course, I recognise the differences between the systems and traditions.

    My point is that,in Scotland, there is no point in having the Justice Minister implement recommendations if the preception is that it remains a political decision. If the policy is one of alway accepting the advice, it would be far better if the recommending body undertook the implementation so that there is no longer a siuation in which it is a quasi-judicial process.

    South of the border, the opposite generally appears to be the case. There seems little point in there even being a recommending body if the Home Secretary routinely ignores the advice he/she is given. My personal prefernce in England would be for parliament to strip the Home Department of this power. It made some sense in the bad old days of capital punishment when someone had to shoulder the responsibility of advising on the Royal Prerogative but today, it is simply a mechanism for politicians to distort the judicial process in order to pander to public opinion.

    That is why people who have long since ceased to be any kind of threat will die behind bars. The only exception I can think of in recent times was Biggs who, if the public had had anything to do with it, would have gone home ages ago.

  • Comment number 41.

    The Labour Government had already paved the way with the Prisoner Transfer Agreement (in the end, not used).

    We understand Brown wrote a letter to Colonel Gaddafi to ask Libya to handle the matter 'with sensitivity'. But Brown apparently didn't think it appropriate to express his views to MacAskill and Salmond because it was a 'devolved' matter!

    Also, given that MacAskill spoke to Hilary Clinton, it seems very odd that he would not also discuss the matter with Gordon Brown, given the international nature of this episode.

    If Brown was truly 'repulsed', perhaps he should have anticipated the inevitable and entirely predictable outcome and picked up the phone sooner.

  • Comment number 42.

    I can't see the point of the Scottish executive debating the release now.Maybe this decision, because of all the ramifications was too big for one person to decide. A free vote would probably have been better thereby sharing the responsibilities.I wonder if the decision would have been the same?

  • Comment number 43.

    Old R @ 34

    right, okay - only 4 things are possible ...

    (1) he WAS involved in the decision and he AGREES with it
    (2) he was involved but he DISAGREES
    (3) he WASN'T involved but he agrees with it
    (4) he wasn't and he DISAGREES

    if (1) he can't say because it undermines Scotland, and if (2) he can't say because it makes him look weak - if (3) he can't say because it causes a rift with America - if (4) he COULD say ... do a Barack Obama

    so given he isn't saying, it can't be (4) - must be 1/2/3

    ... and I would say it's (1) ... he was involved in the decision (or at least given plenty of notice) and he thinks it was the right one - and armed with the knowledge that the release was in the pipeline, he sought to achieve some national advantage - perhaps a trade deal, something of that nature

    but he can't say that, obviously

  • Comment number 44.

    #36 nautonier

    It seems clear that you think the "higher power" is the USA!

    Maybe you remember a storm of protest from the USA when T Blair and Gadaffi arranged the Prison Transfer Agreement over the "deal in the desert" in 2004, implemented in 2007? Perhaps you could point that out to me?

    That was specifically designed to get Megrahi back to Libya.

    At least in Scotland, we don't change the practice of law in order to make political deals.

  • Comment number 45.

    30, threnodio wrote: - Quasi-judicial process?

    ~ It is either a judicial process or it is a political one. For the avoidance of doubt, judicial decisions are made by officers of the court, political decisions are made by politicians.

    The definition of Quasi judicial is as follows:

    QUASI - having a legal status only by operation or construction of law and without reference to intent

    JUDICIAL - A: of or relating to a judgement, the function of judging, the administration of justice, or the judiciary; B : belonging to the branch of government that is charged with trying all cases that involve the government and with the administration of justice within its jurisdiction —

    ergo - QUASI - JUDICIAL means the release on compassionate grounds, only permitted where prescribed in law and only to be decided by those able to administer justice within its jurisdiction aka the Scottish Justice Secretary.

    Seemples!

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    44. At 10:21pm on 25 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #36 nautonier

    It seems clear that you think the "higher power" is the USA!

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    What I think the higher authority is or is not does not matter, in context, as we're discussing what MacAskill said.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Maybe you remember a storm of protest from the USA when T Blair and Gadaffi arranged the Prison Transfer Agreement over the "deal in the desert" in 2004, implemented in 2007? Perhaps you could point that out to me?

    That was specifically designed to get Megrahi back to Libya.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Well said! More corruption and improper politics!

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    At least in Scotland, we don't change the practice of law in order to make political deals.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    We're told that the Scottish law regarding Magrahi's release meant that this was entirely discretionary with regard to MacAskill's decision - Do you think we have poor legal judgement here if not malpractice? Do you really think that Magrahi's release was devoid of political persuasion?

    How many other convicted killers are being held in Scottish jails, with health problems and now are going to appeal on the basis that being as Magrahi has been released early - they should also be released as not having been convicted of the mass murder of 270 people.

    Not all of the victims from the Lockerbie plane were Americans and compassion for all of the victims and their families can also be said to be a 'higher authority' if not the 'higher authority' MacAskill appeared to be alluding to.

    Roll on the referendum for Scottish 'independence' - the sooner the better!
    End the Scottish subsidy!
    One rotten Parliament in Westminster is enough for any troubled nation.

  • Comment number 48.

    #36 nautonier- Good evening, could you explain why Mr MacAskill should resign ?
    This has been a new labour stitch up ever since that nice Mr Blair went to the desert and negotiated a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya when there has been and only ever will be the 1 prisoner. The Scottish Parliament have been used as convenient cannon fodder . they do all the dirty work and take all the abuse whilst new labour keep both the Libyans and the USA on side so they can get their grubby little paws on oil.How everything else plays out is simple you either believe Gaddafi and his son or you believe Brown & Mandelson (now there is a difficult one- who is one to believe??)
    Mr MacAskill had the hardest decision a Scottish Minister has ever had to deal with and in my opinion he did a damn fine job, unfortunately that was not in the nu-lab script ,he was supposed to muck it up because the SNP government are total novices ,rubbish,not good enough a one trick pony and quite frankly Scotland is just an inconvenience that spends all England's money.
    Sid

  • Comment number 49.

    ricardo @ 45 - I'm going to define "quasi judicial" as a decision taken by a government official, rather than in a court of law, but with said decision necessarily (i.e. legally) guided by the same principles which apply in court

    like, for example ... the release of the Lockerbie bomber

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    42. scorpiotemplar

    A free vote would probably have been better thereby sharing the responsibilities.I wonder if the decision would have been the same?

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

    This is interesting idea for justice. Instead of letting a trained and qualified Scottish Lawyer, appointed to oversee the Scottish Legal system, make the decision based on established legal principles and precedents; we have a free vote, open to all the members of the Scottish parliament, or at least those who came back early from their holidays - Hmmm!

    Look what happened when they "shared responsibilities" in building their own headquarters building. Or on a smaller scale, look at the chaos caused by a group of people voting with shared responsibilities on how to bring trams back to Edinburgh!

  • Comment number 52.

    #48 sidthesceptic wrote:quite frankly Scotland is just an inconvenience that spends all England's money.
    It seems to me its the banks & the government that have spent all our money ;-)

  • Comment number 53.

    #45 - scorpioRicardo

    Oh Dear! I would have thought it was obvious from the tone and content of my earlier post that I know precisely what quasi-judicial means.

    I also know what it does not mean.

    Quasi (Latin): as if, just as, just as if, as it were.

    Judicial: Pertaining to or relating to adjudication in a formal legal process.

    Ergo: quasi-judicial: having the appearance of or creating an illusion of due process, of which 'release on compassionate grounds' is but one example.

    Personally, I prefer my original assessment - codswallop.

  • Comment number 54.

    So he cannot give an opinion on a Scottish decision but he is qualified to talk to the Israeli PM about the settlements etc? What a bizarre press conference. I wish someone had asked him after his faux anger how he could offer any opinion on any decision by any other sovereign nation when he cannot when it involves one of those over which he yields some power.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    #51 scorpioricardo
    We seem quite happy to vote these people in and let them make decisions that directly effect us personally on a day to day basis. What's the matter, I get the impression you dont trust them. ;-)

  • Comment number 57.

    We should also remember that while Mandy was on Holiday in Corfu, he met Gadaffi's son and had a 'fleeting conversation' about the release of the prisoner. But the subsequent reports of al-Megrahi's possible release from jail were "entirely coincidental"

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8205435.stm

    Meanwhile, Gadaffi's son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, is reported as saying "In all commercial contracts, for oil and gas with Britain, (Megrahi) was always on the negotiating table"

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8215554.stm

    It's not at all clear why he would make such a claim if untrue - unless he deliberately wanted to embarrass the British government. There's gratitude for you!

  • Comment number 58.

    threnodio @ 53

    you for sure have the right definitions for the 2 individual words taken in isolation "quasi" and "judicial" but I'm not sure putting them together works, since there is a specific meaning for the actual two word phrase "quasi judicial" - as per my 49 - but then again, just mulling it over as I type, perhaps the idea of a decision taken by a government minister (a.k.a. a politician) but subject to the principles which would apply in a court of law, when it's NOT made in a court of law, is a little bit for the birds - or codswallop as you're putting it - dunno really - what about Biggs? - would you call that a pure judicial or a quasi judicial or a political decision? - because I'd say whatever that was, this is

  • Comment number 59.

    48. At 11:05pm on 25 Aug 2009, sidthesceptic wrote:

    #36 nautonier- Good evening, could you explain why Mr MacAskill should resign ?
    This has been a new labour stitch up ever since that nice Mr Blair went to the desert and negotiated a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya when there has been and only ever will be the 1 prisoner. The Scottish Parliament have been used as convenient cannon fodder . they do all the dirty work and take all the abuse whilst new labour keep both the Libyans and the USA on side so they can get their grubby little paws on oil.How everything else plays out is simple you either believe Gaddafi and his son or you believe Brown & Mandelson (now there is a difficult one- who is one to believe??)
    Mr MacAskill had the hardest decision a Scottish Minister has ever had to deal with and in my opinion he did a damn fine job, unfortunately that was not in the nu-lab script ,he was supposed to muck it up because the SNP government are total novices ,rubbish,not good enough a one trick pony and quite frankly Scotland is just an inconvenience that spends all England's money.
    Sid

    >>>>>>>

    I think you have answered your own question (1. being influenced by a New Labour stitch up is hardly an independent legal decision - Is It?) but MacASkill should also resign because:

    2) Inappropriate statement about an undeclared higher authority?
    3) Bringing Scottish and UK legal systems into disrepute?
    4) Likely effect on early release decisions for all prisoners in Scottish jails?
    5) Poor process - e.g. single medical opinion?
    6) Sheer naivety of thinking he would not be paraded as a national hero upon his return.
    7) Pandering to dictatorships in e.g. Libya - it's no use preaching compassion and human rights and then being intimidated by a country like Libya which has no such scruples or values
    8) Compassion for the victims and their families
    9) Come and bomb us message to any/all terrorists
    10) Scottish Parliament are cannon fodder? - if they're not up to the job and cannot stand their ground then the decision is flawed and not made by reference to any 'higher authority'?

    Many more reasons also other than saying I simply disagree with the decision - if I list them all I'll not only get moderated and be here all night also!

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    #54 gthebouncer

    "I wish someone had asked him after his faux anger how he could offer any opinion on any decision by any other sovereign nation when he cannot when it involves one of those over which he yields some power"

    Of course, we don't know if Brown spoke to Scotland privately (it would be very strange if he hadn't) but there are two reasons he has to distance himself publicly:

    First, knowing it would be a political hot potato, he had to keep his head down. "Nothing to do with me, honest!" This is Brown's default position on any controversial issue. Brown makes the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz look like Rambo.

    Second, Brown knows it is important to keep the Scots sweet. The only reason New Labour pushed for one-sided Scottish devolution in the first place was to try to bribe Scottish voters to remain faithful. (Labour is unlikely to win a general election without Scotland). Obviously, that plan backfired - so now he has to try to win the Scottish voters back. It's a tricky tightrope act. If he condemns the decision, he risks upsetting the nationalists and driving them into the arms of the SNP. If he says nothing, he looks weak, but at least he is acknowledging Scottish independence from Westminster.

    The position is obviously absurd as you point out. Brown sees no problem in being involved in any other country in the word (not least Iraq or Afghanistan) but when it comes to Scotland - where he is a sitting MP - he mustn't interfere!

    What a joke!

  • Comment number 62.

    #57 distant taveller wrote:It's not at all clear why he would make such a claim if untrue - unless he deliberately wanted to embarrass the British government. There's gratitude for you!

    The government are completely immune to embarrassment.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    As pointed out Blair set up a transfer agreement with Gaddafi, so any transfer request (remember made by Libya and not Megrahi)would need the sanction of both Westminster and Edinburgh parliaments.

    So why cant Brown voice his opinion.

    1/ he knows the public are aware of the transfer agreement with Libya
    2/ he wants to keep the story alive for political gain
    3/ he simply doesn't know how to answer the question
    4/ he is more confused than the English are on devolved matters and foreign policy. (aka agreement)

  • Comment number 65.

    #58 - sagamix

    I agree but with one rider already pointed out by oldnat. Biggs was an English descision made by the Home Secretary, who frequently ignores or reverses advice whereas the Scottish justice minister, by convention, always accepts the advice.

    That having been said, the Home Secretary was, I believe, finally waking up to public opinion that Biggs was no threat to anyone and really should be allowed out. If pandering to public opinion is politics then yes, that is precisely what it was.

  • Comment number 66.

    Looks like the people of England are starting to march on Westmidden, metaphorically speaking.

    A new, and surprising ComRes poll has been released and it's a complete departure from previous polls as to how the people in England view our current political setup.

    ComRes poll.

    What a refreshing breath of fresh air.

  • Comment number 67.

    Given the lack of any demonstration of strength or courage from Brown, I have even less hope for the case of Gary McKinnon. After the MacAskill decision, there is NO way he can have a fair trial in the US. Three reasons:
    -- The Americans have made it clear that they are interested in revenge, not justice
    -- The Americans have made it clear that they have no understanding of compassion
    -- The anti-Scottish sentiment now is incredible
    Sending Gary to the US would be like throwing him to the lions in the Circus Maximus. Not even Obama understands compassion, it seems. He could become the scapegoat for the entire Lockerbie situation. If our government can't find some technicality to keep him in the UK now, this could become something that shames our nation for years to come. But is Brown or any of the cabinet man (or woman) enough to do anything about it? The disappointing answer seems no, and as a nation we may come to deeply regret their weakness.

  • Comment number 68.

    #67 aguazul

    "Given the lack of any demonstration of strength or courage from Brown, I have even less hope for the case of Gary McKinnon. After the MacAskill decision, there is NO way he can have a fair trial in the US"

    You raise an interesting point. One American prosecutor describes McKinnon as "the biggest military computer hack of all time", although in a BBC interview McKinnon described himself simply as as a "bumbling computer nerd".

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4715612.stm

    Obviously, hacking is a very serious business - but in this case we are told his obsessive behaviour was motivated by a desire to uncover the truth about UFOs. That's not an excuse, but it is in itself revealing about McKinnon's situation. Without minimizing the damage of unauthorized hacking, this incident did at least alert the US to flaws in their security.

    It seems there are some who want to make an example of him, so it is not unreasonable to enquire if the USA would be able to take into account all the circumstances, given their recent views on 'compassion'.

    Whilst Britain seems quite willing to extradite its own citizens, or release prisoners on compassionate grounds, there is a sense that the traffic is mostly one way.

    As Libya wanted their man back, this was an ideal opportunity to request that in return they send us in the person who shot WPC Yvonne Fletcher. Did Mandy even raise this when he had his little chat with Gadaffi's son?

  • Comment number 69.

    #68 Distant a good point in remembering P C fletcher Perhaps mandelsnake can ask when on the Spanish isles again as two when we may have that evil swine sent back to great Britain? Then he can rot in a British jail with out any remission what so ever .
    Old Nat nice one on the repatriation of Gordon brown by our Scottish nab ours which flag do you recommend we say good bye with? the satire or the good old union jack ?not flying from the crows nest of some lybian camels ear-hole, or jack stay R N. Just name the day for aceptance and we will deliver.

  • Comment number 70.

    You reap the harvest from the seeds you sow. Unfortunately we now have a result, an embarrassing and totally disfunctional "United Kingdom". It should from now be called the "Divided Kingdom", with Scotland blaming Westminster for lack of guidance, Westminster saying they had no power to intervene and the result is a ridiculous and totally predictable mess.

  • Comment number 71.

    re:1 calmandhope

    My sentiments exactly, he did not say anything.

    The fence-post he is sitting on must be very firmly wedged between his cheeks.

    What a wonderful PM we have. Not.

  • Comment number 72.

    thenodio @ 65

    ah I see, thank you - I get it then (I think!)

    - a decision made in a court of law is judicial

    - a decision made by a politician who either accepts or rejects legal advice, depending on his own judgement, is non judicial - it's political (Biggs, as you say)

    - a decision made by a politician who pretty much always accepts the legal advice is kind of between the two - so, for want of a better term, quasi judicial - like the Lockerbie bomber release

    ... therefore, Brown was correct to use the term and we shouldn't really pull him up on it - having said that, I still quite like your codswallop angle because I don't think politics should play any part whatsoever when it comes to the sentencing/release of convicted criminals - that's a fairly hopeless aspiration, of course, but it's an aspiration one ought to have

    on the bigger picture, if (as I'm guessing) Brown knew the release was coming and sought to gain some advantage with Libya from it (maybe playing up his role a bit when talking to them?) then I don't feel that's a really terrible thing for a British PM to do - they're like that, these senior politicians - love to feel they're playing important "Men of the World" games beyond the ken of the average Joe ... well they are like that, aren't they? ... so I'm not at all surprised Gordon would go in for a piece of that - especially when you can see how much he LOVES being the man in Number Ten - personally, I would rather he stuck to the knitting (domestic policy) - i.e. let's not use his habit of commenting on international affairs as a reason he should comment on this, let's do the dead opposite - let's hail him for NOT commenting here, encourage him to see it as a quasi precedent for way less "commenting" on international affairs between now and, say, April 2010

  • Comment number 73.

    All-in-all, this episode is just another nail in the political coffin of the so-called 'United Kingdom'.

    Which is patently anything but.

    The English people should not tolerate this political entity for a minute longer than is necessary.

  • Comment number 74.

    As has been pointed out, Brown must have known for many reasons that he was being released. Its not a hard thing to have an opinion on any given subject let alone something thats this important. Just shows again that he's a useless puppet.

  • Comment number 75.

    Are there some sort of secret deals or "understandings" like release-for-oil? If there is, then would it have been done if we are not in great debt? Debt corrupts.

  • Comment number 76.

    Not invisible, just slippery as an eel.

    Does he really think the way to run a country is duck and cover, then just blag it through lies and spin for as long as possible?

    Ah I think I just answered my own question.

  • Comment number 77.

    William Rees-Mogg (MoS 23rd August) and Dominic Lawson (Indy yesterday) have pretty much explained the whole thing in terms of 'real politik' and 'national interest'.

    If you can think of this issue in that wider context, then it all makes (unpleasant) sense.

    The dead are dead and nothing can bring them back but we can reduce the possibility of future deaths through terrorist actions and this must have been partly achieved by improved relations with Libya.

    It is a pity that journalists, rather than politicians, have to spell it out.

  • Comment number 78.

    Message 26 vere_scribo

    I deny the words Scottish and English as they have no meaning whatsoever other than be words to deny our common origin. These are the words of divide and rule.

    If you want to get into personalities I am mainly of gal-Gaidheal stock. We used to call ourselves Scots but now I prefer the word `Caledonian' to differentiate myself from the tartan-clad revanchists who have colonised my native culture in order to divide and rule.

    I enjoy history and a portion of my family played a part in creating an independent Scotland in the early fourteenth century but history is in the past! I appreciate that reality but the past is behind us!

    Another smaller portion of me comes from tillers of marginal land in the Chilterns: only they weren't English. Their roots may well have been in being the native British, much like my Pictish ancestors. As tillers of marginal land, as native puritans they had a lot in common with my Caledonian forebears and in the early nineteenth century experienced the same process of dispossession from the same landlords!

    Now I can see a common thread in all this: it is people making a hard living from a harsh land. It is people with little being dispossessed of that by others who already have so much more. This is the real issue in politics not the four legs good two legs bad mentality that you would wish to promote to distract people from the reality of their lives they are living today.

    In my view government in the UK, all government in the UK has become diminished into outdoor relief for the middle classes who don't think they should work for a living but expect good emoluments in return. What value does all this government and all these governments add? Nothing at all: meanwhile the common folk get poorer and suffer from even more taxation.

    Enough is enough! Begone: the lot of you!

  • Comment number 79.

    #73 john the united kingdom is still intact its only the top half that seam two have lost their marbles at the moment.The united kingdom has not been decimated with a chain saw .it is an island which has another isle on its left hand side of which is standing completely on its own surrounded by water .All these sections at one time or another wish they could be independent,As at one time or another depending which way the wind was blowing on the political front,They wish to distance them selves from the rest, As, in times of instability like the present.
    When the others come under pressure they stand united that is the reason we have the union jack Pardon R N.? Union is united not man united .United as an island Small in stature but never the less all in one.

  • Comment number 80.

    @71 expat
    That was a image I never wanted in my head, but its one of the funniest things I've pictured in a long time.

  • Comment number 81.

    Oh dear Gordon
    Adj. 1. quasi - having some resemblance

    It can't possibly be a Quasi Judicial process.
    It either is or it isn't a judicial process

    I think perhaps he meant it was a "purely" judicial process
    But we can't expect an ignoramus to have much command of the English language can we.

  • Comment number 82.

    # Saga

    Nothing Brown could say on this issue would be right however if he had come out and brazened his way through it a la Mandelson he would have at least shown some courage.

    Hiding in his bunker until the storm has passed just reinforces the image of a weak man.

  • Comment number 83.

    @45 Scorpio

    QUASI - having a legal status only by operation or construction of law and without reference to intent

    Get a new dictionary Quasi does not mean the above in any interpretation See post 81

  • Comment number 84.

    Does anyone believe that Brown and Mandleson had nothing to do with the freeing of Megrahi. It is beyond credibility that they did not.

    Will Brown and Mandleson now state that the UK will have nothing to do with any trade agreements with Libya, and that no business between the UK and Libya will occur.

  • Comment number 85.

    53. threnodio wrote

    I also know what it does not mean.

    Quasi (Latin): as if, just as, just as if, as it were.

    Judicial: Pertaining to or relating to adjudication in a formal legal process.

    Ergo: quasi-judicial: having the appearance of or creating an illusion of due process, of which 'release on compassionate grounds' is but one example.

    Personally, I prefer my original assessment - codswallop.

    My definitions came from the Chamber dictionary of Law, surely fairly relevant here?

    Using part of a phrase (quasi) as -if in isolation means nothing without context. But in this case it was a decision made AS- IF by a legal process.

    As for the logic of all decisions made by politicians being political, was Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, Lord Advocate, was being political when he decided to prosecute the bombers?

    If he was and he was jailed by a political decision, he should be released by a political decision.

    If, as actually happened, he was prosecuted by a QC (who happened to be a politician and Lord Advocate) its only right that he should have been released by a lawyer (who happens to be a politician and Justice Secretary) and therefore released for legal reasons just as the 23 applicants before him have been.

    For me, the biggest loss here is that we will probably never know who planted the bomb, or even why it was done. I can't see what Libya would gain from this.

    I think we also missed a golden opportunity to get hold of PC Fletchers killer as we have just released our biggest bargaining chip.

    If Kenny MaCaskill had insisted on the killer in return for Al-Megrahi, that would have been a political decision. That he did not, proves it wasn't

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    Considering all the well paid spin doctors the government has, it's slightly disappointing that they can't think more inventively.
    Like perhaps telling us that Abu Hamza has a serious illness that can only be treated in the US, so out of compassion we're extraditing him there. Or would that imperil too many Muslim votes in inner cities and be too politically incorrect for Gordon's liking ? Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 88.


    "Mr Brown said ..... he was "repulsed" by the welcome given to the Lockerbie bomber on his return to Libya.

    In his first comments since the freeing of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the PM said he was "angry" at the jubilant scenes that greeted Megrahi in Tripoli."

    What on earth did he expect? On the basis of these comments, he is either naive or stupid. Or both.


  • Comment number 89.

    Terrorists commit appalling atrocities in the name of political causes, which must be condemned. However, to make progress, one must release those convicted as part of the political reconciliation process. Gordon Brown knows this, but cannot say it for fear of being lambasted as being soft on criminals. Please remember that a number of IRA terrorists were rightly released (and with US backing, of course) as part of the peace process.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think it demonstrates once again that Gordon Brown & New Labour value expediency more highly than integrity.

    Sadly, these politicians only react favourably if it is they, their families or friends who are affected.

    Strange too that Gordon Brown would not have the sense to record any conversations with such a disreputable leader.

    Instead he has once again been caught out and outplayed with the result that it now looks like Megrahi's freedom was given in exchange for a trade deal.

    I think many of us will be a lot happier when Gordon and his colleagues are consigned to the waste bin of history and we can get a government of honesty, transparency, integrity and common sense which have been sadly lacking in this adminstration.

  • Comment number 91.

    There sems to be a lot of hot air being talked about the use of the term quasi-judicial. Actually it is a pretty common term in many forms of government. For example, all planning and licencing decisions within local government are quasi-judicial. Really all it means is that it is a decision is made by politicians within a legal framework - only relevant factors are allowed to be taken into consideration and that the issue shoud not be predetermined (though they are allowed to have a predisposition).

    I know that politics is a dirty word - but the point of having politicians involved in these functions is that priciple that they are more responsive to public opinion that a strict adherence to the letter (but not the spirit) of the law would allow. For example, there are many cases where a licence has been refused because of the potential impact on a neighbourhood. It is that responsivness and accountablity that a politician is, in principle, is meant to bring.

    The alternative is to have significant parts of the decision-making process without any public accountability. Is that what people really want?

  • Comment number 92.

    At the risk of being accused of feeding a troll, I think on balance it is worth reviewing the series of fatuous claims made at 59:

    1. being influenced by a New Labour stitch up
    Yes, the SNP is clearly influenced by the Labour party. Right. No laughing from anyone in Scotland at this.

    2) Inappropriate statement about an undeclared higher authority?
    The phrase "higher power" strikes me as being carefully chosen to make sense to atheists, christians and muslims alike around the world. As an atheist, I take this to mean 'there is nothing we or anyone can do about it, whether we like it or not'.

    3) Bringing Scottish and UK legal systems into disrepute?
    Following the law and established precedent, ignoring outside political pressure and stating clearly all the issues considered and the reason for the decision in an extensive public statement is certainly no slur to the reputation of the Scottish legal system. Doing what Hilary Clinton says in the media...now that might have been different. Scottish lawyers, who might be assumed to care more than most about the reputation of Scots law, support the decision by a large majority, according to a poll of their profession.

    4) Likely effect on early release decisions for all prisoners in Scottish jails?
    You need to catch up on this point. Releasing Megrahi was entirely in line with the 1993 legistation and the subsequent code of practice. 23 prisoners have been released prior to Megrahi on the same basis, including one child murderer. Scots law takes the view that no purpose is served in keeping a terminally ill prisoner with three months or less to live in jail.

    5) Poor process - e.g. single medical opinion?
    I think you will find that is the opinion of the chief medical officer of Scottish prisons, sunmmarising a consensus amongst other doctors.

    6) Sheer naivety of thinking he would not be paraded as a national hero upon his return.
    And your point is? No foreign power (Barack Obama, Gordon Brown et al) can control welcome parties at Tripoli airport, nor be responsible for them. The Libyans believe he is an innocent martyr. Under equivalent circumstances I expect a returned prisoner would be feted in most countries. The only curiosity is where they got the saltires. There is an internet rumour about that.

    7) Pandering to dictatorships in e.g. Libya - it's no use preaching compassion and human rights and then being intimidated by a country like Libya which has no such scruples or values
    And who has been intimidated by Libya exactly? Peter Mandelson?

    8) Compassion for the victims and their families
    MacAskill stated he had held discussions with the Scottish/UK families in person, and with the US families by video link. So their voices were heard. It is also worth noting that many of the families support the release (eg Jim Swire). But if you actually approve of justice being administered solely on the basis of the feelings of victims and their families, you have a bit of thinking and reading to do. Or you could move to Saudi and see how it works.

    9) Come and bomb us message to any/all terrorists
    So all you have to do if you want to commit a terrorist crime is to serve ten years in jail, and then contract terminal cancer, to be released in agony with a few weeks to live . Yep, where do I sign up? (This is probably the most barking of the 10 fallacious arguments in this list, and that is saying something.)

    10) Scottish Parliament are cannon fodder? - if they're not up to the job and cannot stand their ground then the decision is flawed

    I agree with this principle. So it is just as well that Kenny MacAskill rejected the UK government's sleazy prisoner transfer agreement, the media bluster of US politicians, and the sadly cheap partisan attacks in the subsequent debate in Holyrood (Malcom Chisholm being an honourable exception to this.) Even bitter opponents of the SNP would concede that MacAskill has stood his ground.

  • Comment number 93.

    It's not a question of INTERFERING, it's a question of having an OPINION.

    Brown has now lost his right to comment on any action of any other Government. He can no longer comment on anything anyone else does without looking and sounding even more hollow than he already does.

    The man is a shambling buffoon.

  • Comment number 94.

    #85 - scorpioRicardo

    Ricardo,

    We are talking at cross purposes. Of course I entirely accept your purely legal definition. How could one not?

    When the Lord Advocate makes a decision regarding whether or not a prosecution should proceed, he is acting in a judicial capacity as an officer of the court. In England such a decision would be made by a civil servant at the CPS. But it would not be made by a politician acting in a political capacity. Generally speaking, such decisions are made based on three criteria: - 1. Is there a case to answer? (legal), 2. Is there a better than 50/50 chance of securing a conviction? (economic), 3. Is there a public interest issue in deciding for or against prosecution (which may be political). It may be messy but generally speaking, it works.

    However, there are situations where there is clearly a conflict on interest. For example, was it right and proper for the Attorney General as a lawyer to advise on the legality of the Iraq War given that, as a member of the government, he was also constrained (or possibly overruled?) by political considerations.

    Now the granting of early release on humanitariuan grounds is one such case. It may very well be that the Scottish justice minister observes strictly the convention that advice he receives is the basis of the decision. Neverthesless, that does not remove the perception that it is political. In England, it is even worse because the Home Secretary is not an officer of the court and all too rarely a lawyer. This power would more appropriately exercised north of the border by the Lord Advocate and south by the Lord Chancellor or - better still given that there is an opportunity now, by the new Supreme Court.

    I do not dispute your definitions, what I am questioning is the wisom of having quasi-judicial processes at all.

  • Comment number 95.

    He was rapidly off the mark in praise of Ted Kennedy. Do you think he will comment on the warnings The G7 received, in 2007, about the credit crunch? Still he was forced into a Magrahi statement, in truth. Keep up the good work, Laura.

  • Comment number 96.

    #87 caledonian You are more than just correct on that one. You hit the nain completely on the head Another evil swine that should have been repatriated long ago .But you and i live in cloud cook-coo land to have such terrible thoughts as to send a man to the united states to be locked up for a long time or perhaps never released at all ?even may be put in the electric chair.Now that would never do would it?

  • Comment number 97.

    I'm sure the BBC could replay some of that old footage of Tony cuddling Gaddafi in 2004 and 2007.
    And I would just love to see the other footage of Brown greeting his pal Gaddafi.
    And I suspect there might be a wee bit with Mandelson and Saif??
    No?
    Ah well , I'll content myself with the clip of Mandelson telling the BBC how offensive it was to suggest there had been any deals at all!
    There again , our PM is on first name terms with the Colonel perhaps we could re read the letter about no fireworks and ticker tape arrivals.

    The fact that Saif has said that the deals on the table included Mr Megrahi , speaks for itself.
    I believe the young man, awful is'nt it?

  • Comment number 98.

    So Brown only needs 2 hours to comment on the death of Ted Kennedy in contrast to hiding in the bunker over Megerahi and he still won't give a straight answer!

    He can also praise the England cricket team (quite rightly) and offers them a reception at Downing Street yet won't go to Wootton Bassett and pay tribute to the fallen soldiers or give the wounded and the families of the dead a reception at Number 10!

    Has there ever been a bigger example of moral and political cowardice?

  • Comment number 99.

    As I understand the position, Foreign Policy was not devolved to the Scottish Parliament. A lack of any firm contradiction of this stance will confirm my view.
    Accordingly, proceeding on this basis, it is a matter for both the Foreign Secretary and Gordon Brown, both of whom appear to be abdicating their responsibilty, to state the U.K.'S stance on this matter. They are just ignoring the problem, hoping that it will go away. Not with the U.S President involved. A few months will show if the health matter resolves itself.

  • Comment number 100.

    I wasnt quite sure as to whether to post this on the "Can Brown Stay Silent?" thread or not, as it is still open, but I thought that this one at the moment is probably more pertinent (see, Moderators, I have given quite a bit of thought as to what is relevant/on topic, etc)...

    So... Here goes.

    This situation, this thread came about because for the best part of a week, the PM has appeared to be vacillating as to whether to say anything or not on the subject of the released convicted Libyan bomber.

    In the meantime though, as Laura has observed, cover was broken to pass on congratulations to the victorious England cricket team. Well, nothing particularly controversial there, but... thats by the by.

    What I do find personally intriguing is our PM's reaction to the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy. Not only was it within a few hours of his death being announced, but the text of it contained the following:

    "Senator Edward Kennedy will be mourned not just in America but in every continent. He is admired around the world as the senator of senators."

    "I am proud to have counted him as a friend and proud that the United Kingdom recognised his service earlier this year with the award of an honorary knighthood"

    I find the "senator of senators" to be loquacious, to put it politely, or to be frank, gilding the lilly to the point where it almost sinks.

    But the second paragraph: When you consider -
    Chappaquidick & the death of Mary-Jo Kopechne
    Being expelled from Harvard for cheating
    Dodged the draft for the Korean war
    Photographed having sex on a motorboat
    The Patricia Bowman/William Kennedy Smith episode
    His outspoken position on the Troubles in Northern Ireland

    Would make him an odd choice of friend, especially for a son of the manse with a strong moral compass.

    Then again, maybe politicians have a different definition of the word "friend" to the rest of us mortals.

    Or, on the other hand, Gordon was just looking for a cheap headline, a chance to look semi-statesman-like (Quasi-statesman, anyone?) and another chance to deflect bad news about his own political inadequacies...

    You decide.

 

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