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The PM breaks his silence...

Laura Kuenssberg | 17:10 UK time, Monday, 24 August 2009

But not on Lockerbie. The PM has just published his letter to the England cricket team, congratulating them on their success in the Ashes. (You can read it below.) For those of you who were eager to hear Mr Brown's view on the decision to release al-Megrahi, you will have to keep waiting.

Gordon BrownWhile the Conservatives and the Lib Dems clamour for him to speak, he seems more focused on the obvious risks to him of making a statement. If he was perceived to support the decision, he would incur American wrath, but the opposite could infuriate the Libyans. Not an easy position to be in.

Incidentally, the explanation given by Downing Street for the lack of comment on the decision has consistently been that it is a devolved matter. But what happens when Mr Brown is next in Scotland and wants to take on the SNP? What happens during the next election campaign for the Scottish Parliament? Will he and other Labour figures refuse to comment on SNP decisions on issues that are devolved? That's hardly likely, but is the logical conclusion of this stance.

Dear Andrew
I wanted to write to congratulate you and the entire England squad on regaining the Ashes. The series has been yet another wonderful showcase for cricket and for all that is great about sport. It has provided high sporting drama throughout the summer that has yet again gripped the entire nation, and to win the Ashes with your magnificent display at the Oval - and coming back from the defeat at Headingley in the Fourth Test - shows great determination and commitment.
There have been many outstanding performances this summer on both sides, but throughout the series you have led England from the front, with patience, resolution and courage. The country is extremely proud of what you have achieved this summer.
I would like to invite the England squad in to Downing Street for a reception to celebrate your victory. We will be in touch to arrange this very shortly.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I second that! - well done the lads, and well done Gordon Brown for recognising a significant English sporting achievement even though he, himself, is not English - says something about the man, that does

  • Comment number 2.

    "There have been many outstanding performances this summer on both sides, but throughout the series you have led England from the front, with patience, resolution and courage."

    Did he actually watch all the matches? In what way did Englkand Lead at Headingley? Jest they came back from the defete but they did not lead thrroughout the serise.

    Seams to me he is jumping on a good news badwagon after all its about the only one that currently exists!

  • Comment number 3.

    In an ideal world, wouldn't the England test result also be a devolved matter, and so no business of the UK government?

  • Comment number 4.

    Oh Brown is entirely irrelevant to anything any more (as if he ever was). He is biding his time, roaming in the gloaming. He has had such a stressfree holiday and dreads the thought of the Westminster machine grinding back into action again.

    He can't hack it. But he will have to soon. He's probably writing his election campaign speeches. He needs to write his Election Defeat speech soon.

  • Comment number 5.

    this is so typical of GB jumping on a populist bandwagon whilst dodging the serious questions.....

  • Comment number 6.

    I love this sort of letter. No doubt a civil servant managed to delete the sentence in which he congratulated Jensen Button for serving the puck into the back of the net, thus winning the rubber.

  • Comment number 7.

    Absolutely typical.

    Opinions on Jade Goody, X Factor and the cricket, no opinions on the release of a convicted mass murderer.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well, there you go. No great surprises there. Gordon goes missing when theres difficult decisions to be made that may have an impact on his "popularity", especially with Obama.

    Dear God, how much more of this megalomaniac shyster do we have to put up with??

  • Comment number 9.

    Well he is in this hole, and he has his shovel but somehow after this letter I don't think he will be going for Australia. New Zealand, perhaps or even China?

  • Comment number 10.

    "throughout ... you have led (England) from the front, with patience, resolution and courage. The country is extremely proud of what you have achieved this summer."

    I bet Bordon wishes somebody would send him a letter like that!

  • Comment number 11.

    Brown jumping on the nearest bandwagon again...........

  • Comment number 12.

    Doesn't say anything about putting the Ashes series back on Terrestrial TV for the rest of us to view does it?

    I don't think the PM can make a decision without his other PM to tell him what to say or do. On the other hand, he didn't say anything on the Iraq War, so the other conclusion is that he is 'frit'

    Just hope that al-Megrahi does not make a miraculous recovery as Earnest Saunders did from Alzheimer's a few years ago or every one is seriously going to look foolish aren't they.

  • Comment number 13.

    Come on Laura. I saw the headline and rushed to read this blog.

    Pathetic isn't it that some goafer writes a letter on Downing Street paper and all of a sudden we have Brown breaking his silence.

    He wouldn't dare appear physically because the world is waiting for him.

    And it's not to save it either.

  • Comment number 14.

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

  • Comment number 15.

    Dear Laura. You continue to get to the nub of the matter and well done for you You must, however, bear in mind that Nick did not get where he is by over-using his critical faculties, especially where Salvator Mundi has been concerned. I sincerely hope that the entire team have previous engagements and will be unable to wait upon Downing St before June 2010 at the earliest.

  • Comment number 16.

    Why does our unelected Prime Minister lack the courage and the grace to comment on the release of Mr al-Megrahi ? He owes it to every single one of those citizens of the United Kingdom who died at Lockerbie and to their surviving families and relatives, many of whom must be confused and shaken by the decision of the Scottish Justice Minister. Instead of lurching desperately at every passing bandwagon (witness his letter inviting the English cricket team to 10 Downing street in which he again uses the word 'courage') he has a duty, as Prime Minister, to make clear his position on al-Megrahi's release.

  • Comment number 17.

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

  • Comment number 18.

    Mr Brown must make a statement in respect of the decision to release Mr Magrahi, I'm afraid the argument that this was a devolved issue does not wash. For sometime before the event it was apparent that the decision would have a material affect upon our foreign policy, which has not been devolved. I suppose that I have some sympathy for him in the he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, but remember that he was part of the Government that dreamt up this mess that is partial independence.

    For the record, on a non political point I do not think that compassion is a weakness as it seems that the Libyans seem to think, rather it is a strength of our culture. If Megrahi is guilty it seems to me that he has been condemned to a long and painful death by a higher authority than any Scottish court.

  • Comment number 19.

    Brown is right to keep his nose out, it's none of his business. He can't criticise the decision if he and his ministers are cosying up to the man who ordered the bombing. Nor can he maintain his holier than thou "son of the manse" image if he advocates "an eye for an eye". Scotland can handle whatever the self righteous in the US and here in Britain throw. Mackaskill was given the right , by the people, to make this decision ; we have the right to disagree, but that is all, and it is now too late to change the decision. Those politicians now complaining should have made their opinions clear in the several weeks before the decision was made. This , they would never countenance in case they backed the wrong horse and got themselves on the wrong side of public opinion.

  • Comment number 20.

    Everything Brown touches fails and every time he expresses his support for anyone they fail. Please boys, keep clear of Downing Street - make him water his own back garden.

  • Comment number 21.

    Being goaded into making a rash statement by the press and opposition parties now would be foolhardy (which doesn't mean that Brown won't do it).

    The americans are acting absurdly in diplomatic terms, however I would not be surprised if this is not a welcome domestic distraction from the NHS debacle in which they acted equally absurdly, albeit with Hannan in tow.

    This gives Obama an opportunity to distance himself from the UK in US 'media reports' (I use both loosly), which will in turn shield him from the fallout of his more progressive policies which are consistantly referred to as European and socialist on those same networks.

    The SNP persistantly talk about themselves in terms associated with the world stage, and aspires to sovereignty.

    Personally I don't disagree with the decision, but they have fluffed this diplomatically and they deserve the fallout.

    The UK press baying for Brown comment simply highlights how desperate the press are to paint him as a failure and, if anything, represents more reason for him to stay quiet.

  • Comment number 22.

    @ 1

    oops, sorry, realised my mistake ... schoolboy error really ... just a split second after hitting "POST" - great South African sporting achievement, I meant to say - but then again, Gordon's not South African either (he's Scottish, I understand) so the thrust of my comment still applies

  • Comment number 23.

    ah the last gasps of desperation, a weak inept government latching onto sporting success.
    seen it before sadly and it didnt help then either.

  • Comment number 24.

    I don't think he is jumping on the bandwagon; any PM would do the same, it's standard protocol.

    Now Jade Goody and Subo, that's another matter.

  • Comment number 25.

    I have no issue with Mr Brown writing to congratulate the cricket team - their achievement deserves recognition. However he can't pick and choose on what major issues to comment on. He has wanted the top job for the last 15 years or more, but unfortunately does not seem to realise that it involves somethings that are difficult and can make you unpopular. We would all have more respect for the man if he did occasionally tell it as it is rather than avoid the question, bend the truth or go missing. When the going gets tough Gordon Brown hides away!

  • Comment number 26.

    Some may say that this is typical of politicians to jump on the bandwagon, but in this case, England retaining the ashes is an achievement that should not be left unnoticed by the PM. However the silence over the release of the Lockerbie bomber is a little puzzling. If in the eyes of NuLabor, Scotland is a devolved power then he cannot actually comment without there being someone to remind him of this, yet to remain silent, some describe as weakness. Unfortunately for him, he has shown on numerous occasions that he has the ability to put his foot in it, so maybe, ( and very wisely) he's keeping a low profile. Best thing really!!

  • Comment number 27.

    Did they have Sky Sport in his bunker or is this more meaningless drivel?

  • Comment number 28.

    He'll be also writing his resignation letter, shortly, with an Autumn one day match to avoid, an election day!

  • Comment number 29.

    Priorities..political priorities.... Wear a Celtics jersey in downtowne Glasgow to learn about the compassion of the Scots.

  • Comment number 30.

    Ha ha... only Gordon Borwn could do it to himself (or let Mandelson do it to him!) It's another nail in his coffin. Our Lord Mandy will be ready to place his next First Minister in number ten very soon.

    Brown is history that is now a certainty. He can't even stand up and put his side across because he has been double sided in his dealings. Sold short by the Lord Pink Panther himself!

    Let's hope we get the oil or it will have all been for nothing more than several feet of column inches and several metres of disparaging comments by us disgruntled commoners.

  • Comment number 31.

    #21 Dayvine

    "they deserve the fallout"

    New ICM poll in the Guardian tomorrow. It doesn't break down to give Scottish figures, but over the whole of the UK, SNP/PC are at 5% (+2% from July).

    The poll took place the weekend after MacAskill's release of Megrahi.

    Unless Plaid are doing spectacularly well, then the decision doesn't seem to have hurt them domestically.

  • Comment number 32.

    I would just like to put all you bloggers right, Gordon has commented on a devolved issue you might like to remember that it is the English and Welsh Cricket Board not exclusively English as you would like it to be.

  • Comment number 33.

    Everything he touches turns to ashes (sorry for the pun. After his attempt to bandwagon I don't fancy the chances of the England team winning anything now.

  • Comment number 34.

    "31. At 8:00pm on 24 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:

    Unless Plaid are doing spectacularly well, then the decision doesn't seem to have hurt them domestically."

    You are right, however I was actually talking on the international scene.
    You may of course be right on a different level - they may only care about domestic opinion - however this would be quite immature politically.

  • Comment number 35.

    So, although Gordon Brown, a Scottish MP, is the Prime Minister of Great Britain, he cannot comment on the release of al-Megrahi because it is a "devolved matter".

    If only Gordon Brown felt equally compelled to remove himself from English politics!

  • Comment number 36.

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  • Comment number 37.

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  • Comment number 38.

    #34 Dayvine

    "quite immature politically"

    I disagree (not surprisingly!). Not only do they not have access to the documents concerning the Lockerbie bombing, but the UK Government wouldn't even give details of why the UK thought that the US Government and relatives were lying about their claim that Megrahi would not be transferred to a prison outwith of Scotland.

    (The Americans haven't focussed yet on the fact that Labour suggested they were liars - but they will)

    When the branch of Scotland's government responsible for foreign affairs refuses to co-operate in this way, then the issue becomes quite simple. No extraneous factors - just make the decision within the norm of Scots Law). That there doesn't seem to be the furore here that they might have anticipated (and possible electoral advantage) will be a relief to them not something they anticipated.

  • Comment number 39.

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

  • Comment number 40.

    This issue is political dynamite.It has legs.
    You are debating questions of political etiquette,Holyrood vs Westminster,or advocating conspiracy theories,whose influence,who`s pressure,who`s interest?.
    Information about the bombing of Pan Am 103 is the nuclear option of international affairs.
    So no appeal,no enquiry.
    `Whereof one cannot speak,one must be silent`

  • Comment number 41.

    sagamix wrote at 1
    "I second that! - well done the lads, and well done Gordon Brown for recognising a significant English sporting achievement even though he, himself, is not English - says something about the man, that does"

    I agree with you on ONE thing says a lot about the man...
    He need some nice photos of himself smiling and hand clasping with people we look up try & make us forget the cringe inducing pictures of him smiling & glad handing GAddafi!

  • Comment number 42.

    The PM breaks his silence?
    Just like everything else he touches.....

  • Comment number 43.

    Dear Prime Minister,

    You are an MP for a Scottish constituency not just the leader of your party and Prime Minister. Can you enlighted Scottish constituents about your views as their representative at Westminster on a matter of Scots Law which being a reserved matter has however impacted UK Foreign Affairs which is not a reserved matter and one on which you as leader of HM Government must have a view if you are at all doing your duty as Prime Minister.

    I await your response with growing interest

    A Scottish Constituent of Yours

  • Comment number 44.

    According to the Guardian, GB's letter to Gaddafi requesting there should be "low key" reaction to al-Megrahi's release refers to a face-to-face conversataion six weeks earlier between the two leaders. I quote - "when we met I stressed that, should the Scottish executive decide that Megrahi can return to Libya, this should be a purely private family occasion".

    To be fair, this makes it clear that Brown aknowledges the decision to be a matter for the Scottish executive but the fact remains that the possibility of release was on the agenda and known to No.10 six weeks ago. The idea that No.10 had no idea what the decision would be or how it would be arrived at is, in the light of this, plainly absurd. It is also absurd to assume that that the Scottish executive would not consult the UK government on a matter which would clearly have an impact on foreign affairs which is not a devolved matter.

    In failing to comment, the Prime Minister has again created a situation in which the honesty of government is in question. The question of whether or not al-Megrahi should have been released seems to me secondary to this issue of honesty.

    Having said that, the release does raise interesting questions regarding the American response. The Americans hold the separation of powers to be an article of faith in their system of government and one wonders why they should be so forthright in their condemnation of legal process in the UK in this particular case whereas they have not hesitated to use the enhanced extradition arrangements so hastily put into place by David Blunkett post 9/11 for purposes which have little to do with counter-terrorism.

    Could it be that decisions relating to prisoner release are not properly the province of politicians and that, by continuing to exercise these powers, they leave themselves wide open to precisely the kind of controversy in which they are now embroiled?

  • Comment number 45.

    So we have a government who has tried to ruin our future sporting success by reneging on promises to stop the selling of school playing fields, and to get kids playing more sport at school. By allowing water companies to charge sports clubs for rain water running off playing fields, they are sitting idly by whilst those clubs are threatened with bankruptcy. And when we needed government leadership on the issue of the England cricket team touring Zimbabwe they took their usual cowards' way out by saying sport and politics do not mix. And surprise surprise, England regain the Ashes, and rather than comment on the internationally important issue of the release of a mass murderer, Brown barges his way onto the bandwagon, hoping to gain some popularity through association.

  • Comment number 46.

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

  • Comment number 47.

    #44 threnodio

    "Could it be that decisions relating to prisoner release are not properly the province of politicians and that, by continuing to exercise these powers, they leave themselves wide open to precisely the kind of controversy in which they are now embroiled?"

    Exactly. When the Tories rewrote the law for England (1991) and Scotland (1993) - largely because the ECHR does not accept political interference with the judicial function, they insisted on keeping this measure of political control.

    Professor Alan Miller of the Scottish Human rights Commission on this

  • Comment number 48.

    Saga you just have to get a dig in don't you!

    Nice to see the unelected Scottish PM has a comment re the success of an English team with a few foreign born players in it and yet he has nothing to say about what is probably the biggest story and debate in his own country. I suppose he has had so little to celebrate about in Scottish sport recently.

    Re your dig re South African's playing cricket for England. I seem to recollect both Scotlands Football and Rugby Union teams having gone down the line of picking foreigners whose grandmothers once bought a tartan in the recent past only with no real success.

    We tried having a Scottish captain of the England cricket team before but Douglas Jardine, born in Bombay of Scottish parents, whilst initially successful caused a huge amount of trouble.

  • Comment number 49.

    No doubt Andrew Strauss and his team mates will take advantage of Brown's invitation. One can only hope that none of them wants a cup of tea . . . . chocolate flavoured tea from a useless teapot will leave a nasty taste in the mouth! A bit like Gordon Brown in all respects.

  • Comment number 50.

    England winning back the Ashes is a good day to bury the news that our EU contributions will rise by 60% next year.

    Perhaps the EU believed Gordon about us being best equiped to ride out the recession. Most of the other big economies have come out of recession and we haven't yet we get stitched up again!

  • Comment number 51.


    I am very glad, that the Prime Minister finally broke
    his silence of the situation *Regarding* the released of the Lockerbie

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 52.

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

  • Comment number 53.

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  • Comment number 54.

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  • Comment number 55.

    It's silly season and this item really tries hard to turn nothing into something. It's usual for a PM to congratulate British sporting successes. There is no precedent for a PM making comments on devolved decisions particularly when such a comment would have no bearing on that decision.

    What would have been more useful to the UK populace would be an article on what has been going on behind the scenes over matters Lockerbie over the past several years.

  • Comment number 56.


    We now have evidence of Gordon's approach to politics.

    His letter of 6 weeks ago shows how he lines other people up as the fall guys and from an early stage distances himself from decisions that he clearly has been involved in.

    In this case it was the Scottish parliament that was to take the rap should things go wrong.

    He used the same approach to be able to deny he knew what Damian McBride was up to.

    Anyhow - you forgot a group. If he speaks he is in danger of upsetting the Libyans or America. Whilst if he doesn't speak he will anger the British public.

  • Comment number 57.

    #55 fillandfrowpist

    "It's silly season".

    Depends where you are! Our Parliament resumes anyway next week, while the UK one has another 7 weeks holiday.

  • Comment number 58.

    It does seem curious that each time something significant comes up the PM is missing. Previously we've been told he's busy with something more important. This time we are informed that he's on holiday - and is obviously watching the cricket. The previous times he kept quiet were certainly badly judged. Is he now playing a game of stealth or are we watching the same old dog getting slowly to his feet only to be the last to bark once again?

  • Comment number 59.

    Laura, you ask "Will he and other Labour figures refuse to comment on SNP decisions on issues that are devolved? That's hardly likely, but is the logical conclusion of this stance."

    Brown has a knack for only commenting on the things he wishes to. At the first sign of trouble or controversy, he ducks out of sight.

    Let's not forget he bottled out of calling an election (which he could have won), he was afraid to allow the promised referendum on the Euro Treaty (because he knew he would lose), he didn't have the courage to sign the treaty at the photo-shoot with all the european leaders so skulked in the side door when the others had gone. And now, he won't say what he thinks about al-Megrahi because he knows he would either upset the devolutionists or the Americans (probably both).

    He reminds me a little of the Lion from the Wizard of Oz....

  • Comment number 60.

    Has Strauss made a reply yet to "The Invitation"?
    Based on the previous experience, I'm not sure that it would be a good idea.

    The BBC sports editor has a blog that promises "The Inside Line", but I don't think that's what we are given, so maybe you can help...

    Has Gordon given the Americans a "go ahead, be my guest.." for a "free-hit" on Scotland, thinking that it will be good for the Labour Party in Scotland, and only bad for the SNP?
    Of course, we've heard some pretty entertaining allegations before from American politicians about "oil-money for something.." in the case of "Gorgeous" George Galloway. I'm not inclined to treat this much differently, but there seems to be different undercurrents.

    I'm not a Scottish Nationalist (born and work in the USA, grew up in England, Scottish father, often stopped at the chippie in Lockerbie as a student).
    As far as I can tell from this distance, the Scots appear to have behaved in keeping with both the letter, and the spirit, of Scottish law.

    But I can't believe that the political ramifications weren't considered and discussed. Did the SNP delight in the opportunity of asserting their independence from not just England, but the USA as well?
    And did Gordon say "Go ahead. Make my day."

    I'm not actually making a personal comment on my own view of the decision, because I'm not yet sure what it is. Let's face it, Myra Hindley was never going to get compassionate release, was she?

  • Comment number 61.

    Brown's between a rock and a hard place, we need to ensure our oil supplies once the Scottish stuffs run out and are in strong competition with the Russians in Libya. US opinion can be ridden out but doesn't need to be inflamed. Meanwhile I suspect SNP support will rise at least in the short term, the US posturing will rather serve to boost their fighting spirit.

    According to the appeal court there was a strong case to hear the appeal, which if it had found a case of a serious miscarriage of justice would have been embarrassing to everyone and would have meant the case becoming live again

    Only the Libyan's messed it up by celebrating and as for the Saltire to be waved, opps!

    Welcome to the world of international diplomacy...

  • Comment number 62.

    Yes and please would he comment also on why US Senator John MacCain and a group of his colleagues were in Tripoli last week offerering 'non lethal defence equipment' to Mr Gaddafi
    By the way the Scottish Legal System is not 'devolved', they kept it in 1707. What is true that that they are probaby acting under legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament but this is not certain.
    The US legislation on compassionate release requires a court intervention. Does England have any....?
    Comment 61 has it about right.

  • Comment number 63.

    Trivial nonsense, as usual, from the political party whose time in government will be defined by one word, and one word only: spin.

  • Comment number 64.

    I'm wondering whether there had been some indications that the Lybians were going to play down the release, but they got hijacked by internal Lybian politics.

    It was in Gadahfi's interest to bring the bomber home as part of his legacy, but to keep it low key to show that he was now a mature international politician and limit the upset it caused. Risky, but he must have felt it worth it.

    However his (second?) son felt that he could consolidate his position as future leader by being seen to be at the centre of the return. If you want proof of that all you need is the publication of the 'transcript' of him telling the bomber that his release was part of trade negotiations. Shows he can push Britain about, making him into a great leader - if people beleive his claim. Of course he has made Lybia's international position worse.

    Now for Brown's problem. If he upsets this second son and he turns out to be the new Lybian leader there could be economic effects. Lybia could go to other countries for some of the contracts, but Britain has fewer investment and development opportunities. Although the other political leaders have stated their opposition to the decision and manner of return they haven't exactly gone overboard either - just as far as they dare. Which is why being able to attack Brown's silence rather than what he is saying is such a gift.

    I am not convinced that Cameron has won the next election, but I am sure that Brown has lost. He is keen a rugby and knows that when you are no longer winning in the forwards you need to throw the ball around. It is a risky business but it can reap rewards. For the next few months Brown needs to be first with comment on anything whether it is Lybian bombers, public spending cuts, NHS management (again), bankers' bonuses. He needs to give some of his 'rising stars' an opportunity to be identified as strong people in their own right. It may still end in political failure, but he will have given it a go. Cameron may have been brought out of his comfort station, Cameron's majority may not be massive and labour may have found some new stars.

    Why is this important to the nation? The trouble that the Blair/Brown government had is that the opposition was so weak and divided that they were unchecked. This meant that they could go in the direction of their choosing without any serious challenge. I think a strong government needs a strong opposition to get the best out of it. Brown's silence and inability to realise that a PM's job is to make public statements not just chair a committee has weakened his position further and damaged the country long term.

  • Comment number 65.

    But what happens when Mr Brown is next in Scotland and wants to take on the SNP? What happens during the next election campaign for the Scottish Parliament? Will he and other Labour figures refuse to comment on SNP decisions on issues that are devolved? That's hardly likely, but is the logical conclusion of this stance.

    This is Laura's most significant comment imho. Alex Salmond has been gradually baiting and annoying Labour (and especially GB) over carefully chosen issues since becoming first minister. This has to be the culmination of previous work and puts GB in an appalling lose,lose position. AS must be laughing all the way to the polls, whilst maintaining an outward statesmanlike dignity.

  • Comment number 66.

    #62 cping500

    The legislation that MacAskill was acting under is an Act of the UK Parliament - Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993.

    In this regard, it is similar to the Criminal Justice Act 1991, which Straw applied to release Biggs.

  • Comment number 67.

    So Mr Brown can write the word England but he still has problems saying the word especially in the context of England only legislation which is due to devolution about 90% of the law he's involved in.

    It would be nice if he and other MPs would say "English" NHS which is what they mean by NHS or England instead of "our country" or "the country".

    But then of course that would rightly make people start asking the question - how is it that this man who represents a Scottish constituency vote on what happens in England when he cannot influence the same subjects in his own constituency...

    You'd end up with English people calling for recognition, representation and an English parliament - and the Brishit establishment wouldn't want the English getting the same as the Scots Welsh or Northern Irish eh?

  • Comment number 68.

    He's such a man of the people...

  • Comment number 69.

    #67 englandrise

    Agreed, and that's at the core of the problem with asymmetric devolution.

  • Comment number 70.

    Nice that he is speaking to Mr. Netanyahu but won't speak to us.
    Us being his electorate - the electorate that didn't vote for him.

    As for asymmetric devolution - I couldn't have put it better myself.

  • Comment number 71.

    Well done Gordon.

    The success of a national sports team is a rare piece of good news which our PM should acknowledge and celebrate.

    The mishandling of an issue by a foreign government is a separate matter for the people within that foreign government to justify for themselves.

    The UK (unlike scotland) has a perfectly good foreign secretary, foreign office and diplomatic service to deal with the need to distance ourselves from the errors made by foreign governments.

  • Comment number 72.


    I cant possibly see anything of interest that he will have to say that will interest Benji. Especially as we've gone all holier than thou about supplies of military equipment (not necessarily weapons either) to Israel recently...

    After all, he hasnt exactly got anything interesting to say to us, the electorate, has he?

  • Comment number 73.

    #71 jon112uk

    First time I've heard anyone describe Milliband as "a perfectly good foreign secretary"!

  • Comment number 74.

    #71...."The UK (unlike scotland) has a perfectly good foreign secretary.."

    well thanks jon112uk for making me laugh out loud, i would say ...not since Douglas Herd....

  • Comment number 75.

    A clear case of the PM "wrapping himself in the Flag"...just a shame it's the wrong flag.

    Well done on a thrilling Ashes final Test, but the PM has an elephant in the room which demands comment.

    While we're on the subject of Flags, could I ask the PM which shops in Tripoli maintain a stock of Scottish Saltires...just on the off-chance of an impromptu reception.

    All those Saltires looked suspiciously alike...almost as if they came from a single source...hmmm...I wreaks of "product-placement" to me.

  • Comment number 76.

    62. At 07:26am on 25 Aug 2009, cping500 wrote:
    Yes and please would he comment also on why US Senator John MacCain and a group of his colleagues were in Tripoli last week offerering 'non lethal defence equipment' to Mr Gaddafi

    You imply this is sinister or underhanded.

    The US (or the UK) are perfectly entitled to carry out trade with Libya. Libya is perfectly entitled to carry out trade with the US and UK.

    We have ended the period of relations where we bombed them with F-111s and they bombed us with bombs in discos or semtex for the IRA. Unfortunately news organisations like the BBC have chosen to give very little coverage to the ending of a nasty and uproductive conflict.

    The 'non-lethal defence equipment' that you imply is so sinister is C130 transport planes and unarmoured/unarmed HMVEE jeeps. They are 'defence equipment' obviously because you could carry troops in them. Both of these are just as capable of carrying humanitarian aid to starving people in the Libyan desert.

  • Comment number 77.


    I especially liked the Dirty Harry reference but, on audition, I doubt Brown would get a part as street lowlife and he can't act.

    The crucial elements of Lockerbie have been fully exposed to or hidden from those who lost loved ones? That is the question that still hasn't been answered and it is just a tad disingenuous of the US to call foul on Scotland considering its odious track record on "deals".

    To continue with the "entertainment" it is a great pity we do not have real life "Lie to Me" investigators liberally sprinkled around all our democratic institutions; their work would certainly be cut out.

    And isn't Myra Hindley detained for her own safety?

  • Comment number 78.

    73. At 09:30am on 25 Aug 2009, oldnat wrote:
    #71 jon112uk

    First time I've heard anyone describe Milliband as "a perfectly good foreign secretary"!

    First time anyone has ever heard me supportive of Gordon Brown as well.

  • Comment number 79.

    Probably worth noting that the Scottish Govt doesn't have a Foreign Secretary, which rather makes it a one-donkey-race!

    Political comment has reached it's pinnacle when we attack office-holders who don't actually exist...a bit like the non-existant PM this week.

    I am constantly bemused by those who don't understand how devolved Govt works. - To be fair, even David Cameron doesn't understand it, nor indeed the Constitution of his own land & Parliament.

  • Comment number 80.

    Changing tack slightly, there has been some "What If?" speculation on various boards over the last few days about how bad the current storm over the Megrahi release would have been if Scotland had rejected devolution. Perhaps more plausibly, what if Flight 103 had been delayed another 10-15 minutes leaving Heathrow and the wreckage had fallen on Carlisle or somewhere else in Cumbria?

    IIRC it had already been delayed by about an hour suggesting that the bombers wanted it to detonate when the plane would have been out over the Atlantic making it harder to recover the evidence needed, just like the Air India tragedy of a few years previously where it took many years to establish that a bomb was responsible. Therefore Megrahi would have been an English prisoner and Jack Straw would have been in ther hot seat. Given the rumours of Mandy's links with Gaddafi's son and oil deals can you imagine how much more intense the debate would now be.

  • Comment number 81.


    If you can call being dead "detained for your own safety", then yes.

    Brady is still alive though, barely.. not sure whether they are using the same rule of thumb for him.

  • Comment number 82.

    One has to factor into this argument that August is traditionally a bad month for news, therefore this has more focus and high profile than would normally be afforded to it.

    That said, I think they should have kept the bomber in prison. UNLESS and it's a big UNLESS they actually know that he is innocent and in that case they should be publicising the fact.

    No excuses other than that one to actually free the bugger.

  • Comment number 83.

    Oh, and actually, when this country is crying out for strict discipline, tough rules, tough talk, tough measures on crime, drug and alchol abuse, it looks as though Scotland has a liberal leftie Justic Minister who kicks everything under the carpet in his eagerness to show "compassion".

    The twerp.

  • Comment number 84.

    Ha, lot of people saying on the wirelss that Brown speaks out to congratulate Susan Boyle and shows concern over HER welfare, the English cricket team's winning the Ashes etc.

    Somebody just now voiced the priceless suggestion:

    Why don't we ask Susan Boyle what SHE thinks about Scotland freeing the bomber?


  • Comment number 85.

    Was mandys meeting with Gaddafi's son before or after he was running the country during his stay in corfu?

  • Comment number 86.

    #85 icewombat

    IIRC not before or after but during.

  • Comment number 87.

    I think a lot of you are missing the point here.

    The cricket is more important than politics.

  • Comment number 88.

    It might well be a devolved matter but it is clear that Americans do not understand this. They are calling for a boycott of the UK as a whole by US tourists.

    Frankly Brown's silence on the matter just shows what we all know anyway: the man is a coward without any moral fibre. In his confused mind he is happy to be 'getting one' on the SNP.

  • Comment number 89.

    Nice to know there's nothing much going on in government that involves actually running the country and that Gordon has time to do this kind of stuff.

    Maybe someone should consider making the post of PM part-time and reducing his salary if he has time to waste on nonsense like this.

  • Comment number 90.

    I wonder as Gordon has time to meet the Israeli PM whether Mr Netanyahu has an opinion re the Libyan prisoner release issue?

    Perhaps Gordon, or the relevant minister might also find time to comment re the 60% increase in EU contributions

  • Comment number 91.

    @88 pdourst

    Says something about his character that he's happy to try and score points off his own country, and damage the whole of U.K internationally as well.

  • Comment number 92.

    #88 pdourst

    You are absolutely correct. MacAskill's decision was necessarily taken in Scotland under the 1993 legislation as amended by the Scotland Act.

    It was always open to the UK Government to put through a minor amendment to the 1993 legislation giving the Secretary State for Scotland the power to "call in" an appeal which had implications for foreign affairs or other reserved powers.

    There could then have been a unified approach as the appeal could then have been taken within the English legal tradition of greater political interference in such matters. Now I wonder why they din't do that?

  • Comment number 93.

    Mr. Brown says that the English Cricket teams performance "... gripped the entire nation" and "The country is extremely proud ...".

    That is a careful choice of words as befits an experienced politician.

    Which nation?

    Which country?

    One can hardly imagine native Scots or Welsh jumping for joy at this English sporting achievement.

    It is worth pointing out that al-Megrahi can only leave 'the country', meaning the so-called United Kingdom, with the specific agreement of the Prime Minister, who exercises that authority via the UK Border Agency.

    Finally, I believe that it is very likely that a fairly anonymous Iranian Minister ordered the revenge attack that downed the Pan-Am jet and that al-Megrahi was a minor operator/fall guy.

  • Comment number 94.

    #93 JohnConstable

    I'm not that interested in cricket, but I was quite pleased to see a team from the British Isles doing well. I like to see Ireland doing well too, and also other non UK sportsmen/women from the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

    But obviously none of this requires a political union of these places with the UK.

    I thought the English team represented England and Wales?

  • Comment number 95.

    It's hard to think of someone who now WON'T be granted this compassion. How much worse does it have to be than the murder of 270 innocent people?

    Is there a scale of compassion? If you've only killed (say) 50 people would you be released with 6 months to go with a terminal illness? What if someone had just done an armed robbery and smacked a few people around? Surely that must be 9 months or more left to go. As for other crimes, well, we're all going to die sometime so why bother locking people up at all?

  • Comment number 96.

    Oldnat you are indeed correct the England team is actually England & Wales as you suggest. They represent the England and Wales Cricket Board

    The frst test match in the Ashes series was played in Cardiff. One of the 18 first class counties is Glamorgan who have supplied a number of players for the "England" team in recent years.

    The ground where the first test was played was previously most famous for being the ground that Sir Garfield Sobers, then plain Gary Sobers, hit six sixes in a single over off Malcolm Nash the Glamorgan bowler whilst playing for Nottinghamshire.

    This explains why there was both a Scotland and Ireland team in the recent cricket world cup but not a Welsh one.

  • Comment number 97.

    94 oldnat

    The English team represents England and Wales but also is flexible enough to allow Scottish players if they are any good like Mike Denness, Dougie Brown or Gavin Hamilton. The most famous was Douglas Jardine, but in Aussie eyes definitely infamous after the bodyline tour where the English bowlers bowled at the man in an era before helmets were invented.

    Straightforward really just like the rules of the game itself.

  • Comment number 98.

    Gordon Brown.

    Cares deeply about people who have a funny turn after being on X Factor.

    Tries to claw back compensation from soldiers who have had arms and legs blown off fighhting a war he sent them to fight.

    Thinks spending billions on fit young atheletes running round in circles at the London Olympics is a good use of money.

    Thinks its right to claw back compensation from soldiers who have had arms and legs blown off fighhting a war he sent them to fight.

    Writes letters to congratulate well paid sports-stars who do their jobs well

    Writes letters asking for compensation back from soldiers who will struggle to get a decent job after they've had arms and legs blown off fighhting a war he sent them to fight.

  • Comment number 99.

    #47 - oldnat

    Thank you for the link - my sentiments entirely.

  • Comment number 100.

    'The prime minister will be asked about the decision to free Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds at a press conference later on Tuesday.'

    This is embarrassing.


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