Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Labour's Foreign Policy: Appeasement First

Nick Robinson put his finger on the most disraceful aspect of what we have learned through
At the end of his live two way with Huw Edwards tonight he said (and I quote approximately)...

One thing we have learned from looking through these papers, is that at no
stage did government ministers ever seriously consider saying no.

The correspondence makes clear that Labour ministers went out of their way to point out to their Scottish counterparts the consequences of allowing al Megrahi to die in jail. The Libyans had made threats of "serious consequences" if that were to happen, without ever specifying what these consequences would have been.

So yet again, the Foreign Office default position of Appeasement First won the day. In some ways it does not surprise me that the SNP Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill acceded to the constant arguments coming from London. He could hide behind the cloak of so-called 'compassion' and hope for the best.

But they have all been found out. Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell, in an interview with the BBC, appeared to indicate that the Prime Minister was fully behind the collective view that al Megrahi could not be allowed to die in jail. Although I disagree with that argument, it's an entirely legitimate stance to take - that is if you are willing to come out in public and argue for it. But this man of courage has yet again hidden from the cameras and refused to give his view. He argues - and, to be fair, so do many of the letters - that it was a matter for the Scottish government. But if that were so, why were so many letters sent - from Straw, Rammell and Lewis to name but three - putting forward the view of the UK government?

Compassion is a fine sentiment, but it is one which must be used consistently. Does anyone seriously believe that if the Dunblane gunman, Thomas Hamilton, hadn't topped himself and instead was found to have three months to live, that the Scottish government would have released him from jail to end his days with his family? Of course not. And it is for that reason that the decision to release al Megrahi was wrong and that many of us believe it came about for reasons other than compassion. The release of the letters today adds further fuel to those suspicions.

The whole episode is also an example of cackhanded diplomacy. You cannot double deal the Libyans and the Americans. The Americans were lied to when they were told that the UK government wanted al Megrahi to die in prison. Rachel Sylvester has written that we have seen the end of the Special Relationship. I hope she's wrong, but I fear not.

The UK government has been caught tacitly encouraging the release of a convicted terrorist - not any old terrorist, but the one who was convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity in our history. Some of us won't be surprised by this after what has happened with prisoner releases in Northern Ireland, but we don't have to support it.

David Cameron is right to call for an independent inquiry into these events. It's not only the British people who deserve to know the truth. So do the families of the 270 innocent lives that were taken on that terrible night over Lockerbie.

UPDATE: Bill Rammell is in deep trouble tonight. The front page of The Guardian reports of a note on a conversation between Rammell and the Libyan Europe Minister which disclosed that the Libyan minister had said: "Mr Rammell had stated that neither the Prime Minister nor the Foreign Secretary would want Mr Megrahi to pass away in prison but the decision on transfer lies in the hands of Scottish ministers." Explosive.

90 comments:

Paul Halsall said...

Not fair, Ian.

And remember the Saudi Princess during Thatcher's years?

Thatsnews said...

I also mentioned this in my blog this evening.

I wonder if Gordon Brown is becoming more like Richard Nixon?

How this will play at the Labour Party conference? Or will they ignore it in the same way that people try to ignore it when an elderly relative break sulphurous win in church?

Quietzapple said...

How should Government Ministers say No when they were not in a position to refuse a release?

Nick Robinson, former National Chairman of the Young Conservatives, always resumes his tendentious ways when it matters it seems to me . .

'According to the minutes, "Mr Alobidi went on to say that Mr Rammell had stated that neither the prime minister nor the foreign secretary would want Mr Megrahi to pass away in prison but the decision on transfer lies in the hands of the Scottish ministers" '

Quite clear from this written record produced by the Libyans that Rammell was expressing an opinion, not making a commitment of the PM's view, as has been the common "inaccuracy" in the media today.

http://twitter.com/Quietzapple

I have speculated that Gordon Brown would not wish al-Megrahi to die in a foreign jail.

http://quietzapple-musing.blogspot.com/2009/08/america-no-mercy.html

His opinion, however, remains irrelevant, and there is still no good reason for him to read all the relevant papers, to which he may not have access, and then pronounce on what is now history. Only those who wish to make misleading propaganda have any benefit in that.

Robert said...

First rule of life is that the world is not fair! Given that we have offered one man in exchange for business contracts which converts to jobs for the UK and mortgages being paid. I would suggest that its not a bad bargin. I have not doubt that the US would take a similar stance to furtuer US interests
On the point of the special relationship, is this the relationship where we were bled dry prosecuting two world wars and supported by our close friend during Suez. One does come to the conclusion that the special relationship is a one way ticket. It is time we cut the cord and looked after our own interests.

Jess The Dog said...

It's not just about appeasement. It's about Blair lining his pockets.

There is a paper trail.

- Blair brokered the BP oil deal in March 2007.

- Blair signed the MOU on prisoner transfer in May 2007.

- Lord Falconer assured the Scottish Government in July 2007 that any prisoner transfer or exchange would not include anyone convicted of the Lockerbie crime.

- Jack Straw reversed this position in December 2007.

- The BP oil deal was ratified by Libya in December 2007.

Wonder how much Blair has trousered from BP since he left government on 24 June 2007....


http://jess-the-dog.blogspot.com/2009/09/weapons-of-mass-distraction.html

Cllr Peter cairns (SNP) said...

Ian,

I think the Thomas Hamilton argument is somewhat flawed as part of any compassionate release is public safety and I think like Myra Hindley it would be difficult to make a case that the public would ever be safe if someone like that was released.

Megrahi is highly unlikely to be sitting up in bed making bombs in Libya, so I think we can rule out him being a threat to the Scottish or indeed Uk public.

Peter.

bladerunner86 said...

@ Paul Halsall
"Not fair, Ian."

Can you tell me Paul what exactly isn't fair about Iain posting this particularly story on his blog or his detailed analysis of it.

I think you do not understanding the broad issues and what is at stake. Particularly our special relationship with the United States.

So again I will ask you Paul - why is it "not fair"?

Mitterand said...

Paul Halsall said...
"Not fair, Ian."
How pathetic.
What a ridiculous response to this post... The intellectual standard has gone down somewhat....

As for the Saudi Princess - Did the Saudi monarchy actually blow up planes killing hundreds of people.
Grow up Paul and stop being a pratt.

Jess The Dog said...

For a while, Jack Straw seemed happy for non-mass-murderer Ronnie Biggs to expire in jail.....

Anonymous said...

£15billion trade deal for releasing a man you know probably didn't do it or let him die in your prision and forever be hated by Libya and the middle east.

For once I agree with Brown. This isn't the first time such deals have been done and it won't be the last.

As for America's outrage, what about America meeting and funding with convicted IRA terrorists. If its such a special relationship why didn't they think how we might have felt about that. This so called special relationship is one sided. We have to keep in with the US but they don't care about us. Good on Brown for trying to forge relations with Libya why should we leave it for the Chinese, Saudis and Americans.

Neil J Ward said...

Slightly off topic but does anyone else thing we need another thatcher in power to make this country proud again. The party in government are destroying our position in the world with their lies, shady deals and economic missmanagement we dues to them now are no better than a banana republic.

True Belle said...

We share our Island with a lot more bods from around the globe now.

We are so multicultural, that many DO NOT play by the rules, or understand our Island mindset.

Did political fear and fright combined with a rush of adrenaline , become the deciding factor that a very dead Libyan in one of our prisons would cause an huge outcry on these shores?

David Russell said...

The biggest problem with your analysis is that it assumes that the SNP would listen to advice - even where it was rational - from (in their words) 'London Labour'*. I think in suggesting that you fail to appreciate the modus operandi of the SNP generally, and in particular since taking power in 2007. Any opportunity to be seen to pick a fight with 'London Labour' is taken up, often regardless of any policy arguments involved. The ability to simultaneously give two fingers up (metaphorically, but only just) to 'London Labour' while simultaneously spouting 'no blood for oil' in every interview going would have been like Christmas coming early for Alex Salmond.,

*Yes, 'London Labour', that party which would not be in power were it not for Scottish MPs and in which two of the four great offices of state are held by Scots. Their term, not mine!

Alan Douglas said...

A very strong case can be made for sending another man abroad on compassionate grounds. He too is in terminal decline : Gordon Brown.

Alan Douglas

Thatsnews said...

Not fair, Paul?

Please explain how and why this is not fair.

And are you saying that Brown/Blair are just as bad as Thatcher? If so, this does nothing for the position of the Labour Party.

Man in a Shed said...

In a long gone age when Labour MPs knew their duty this would have lead to the end of the government.

Just think how outraged we all would have been ten years ago - but now after 12 years of New Labour nothing surprises us any more - that's how low they have dragged us and debased the once good name of our nation.

@Paul Halsall: And remember the Saudi Princess during Thatcher's years? Is this the official New Labour troll line/excuse then ?

allnottinghambasearebelongtous said...

"I think you do not understanding the broad issues and what is at stake. Particularly our special relationship with the United States."

That's presumably the same Americans whose warship sailing in Iranian waters shot down an Iranian airliner? And the crew responsible all got medals?

Governments of all colours have made unpleasant compromises in order to protect trade. The Conservatives looked the other way when Saddam Hussein was gassing the Kurds for instance because they weren't important to our trade whereas Saddam was at the time. Once he invaded Kuwait all that changed of course. And of course Blair halted the investigation into the Al Yamanah arms deal which had been originally signed by the Tories.

They all do it, no party political points to be scored there. Frankly, releasing a terminally ill man who was convicted on very dubious evidence (of course a shopkeeper would remember a man popping in to buy clothes and be able to reliably identify him years later. Not to mention the break-in to the Pan Am luggage store and the above motive for the Iranians) who wouldn't live long enough to complete his appeal seems like one of the less stomach churning examples.

As for Obama, he gets the attention off his health care reforms for a few days, I'm sure in reality he's perfectly happy with how it's turned out.

And lastly, how embarrassing for the UK would it be if Megrahi's appeal had been heard and was successful? Letting him go got us out of that one, it's no coincidence he dropped his appeal shortly release.

So if you actually think about it for a bit, instead of sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting 'appeasement' like a numpty, it's probably the best solution all round in pragmatic terms.

Obsidian said...

Here's hoping for that public enquiry - one that even Megrahi wants, as he knows it'll clear his name - followed by you blogging your disgust at blatant injustice in the name of political expediency...

As for the 'special relationship', any cursory inspection will tell you that it's been mainly to the benefit of the US. It's not in danger. They're not about to bit their nose to spite their face, just because Labour haven't the ability to dabble in realpolitik without tripping over their own incompetence.

Andrew said...

Gordon Brown states that he cannot comment on the actions of governments for which he is not responsible. Ok, fair enough - if the Old Stalinist of Downing Street is going to be consistent.

So I was amazed - but not surprised - that, in the same few days, the Prime Minister saw fit to comment on the political activities of Senator Edward Kennedy, a member of a foreign legislature who has had an effect on British foreign policy, and yet he refuses to tell us what he thinks about the political activities of the Scottish justice minister, a member of a devolved legislature who has had an effect on British foreign policy.

Does he think we haven't noticed? Does he think we don't care? This is the worst thing about this whole mess - the Government and the Scottish Executive are holding the people of this country in total and utter contempt.

The Grim Reaper said...

How typical of Brown to have an opinion on everything which has nothing to do with him, yet no opinion on something that has everything to do with him.

Are the Tories going to work hard now in order to help ensure this scandal brings down the government? I await an answer...

James said...

This whole incident highlights the inability of any of our corrupt politicians to comment on anything with any degree of credibility. Who is going to beleive what a bunch of liars, cheats and embezzlers say on anything of importance. That includes Cameron making comments about the integrity of Brown etc. At some point someone from Libya, Iran or somewhere else is going to throw their comments back at them with the indisputable charge that they are corrupt and cannot be trusted. That's why we need rid of the lot of them as soon as possible.

Imagine Cameron pronouncing on some bribery scandal in the future, they'd just laugh in his face.

Neil A said...

I have no love for Gordon Brown, Kenny McAskill, Al-Megrahi or Quaddafi, but I do think a lot of guff is being talked about this subject. I believe that the UK government (probably correctly) identified that releasing Al-Megrahi was in the overall interest of the country. I believe that they dropped hints about this, to the Libyans and to the Scots. I do not believe that the UK government did any kind of "deal". I do not believe that McAskill was a hollow vessel carrying out another man's bidding. I do believe that the UK government hashed up their communication with the USA about the issue. I do not believe that this is an issue with a Smoking Gun and I wish we could talk about something else.

tapestry said...

I don't buy the notion that the Americans didn't know what was afoot as the Libyan oil deal and the political negotiations which led to it date from 2007.

Clearly the US government prefers to claim ignorance, but come on !

Likewise the EU would be behind this action and have agreed it. Brown is only a puny British PM after all, and one who will soon be seeking work. He will do exactly as he is told by the EU on such occasions.

Anonymous said...

I'm still not really clear as to what was in it for the SNP in agreeing to the release. Given that the London government was so desperate to secure the release, I would have expected the Edinburgh government to have extracted some kind of quid pro quo from London on another issue. Any thoughts?

James said...

Grim Reaper, Of course they're not going to try and bring the Government down. The Lisbon Treaty needs to go through before they can do that.

anonemo said...

Iain, have you read the stuff the Scottish Goverment released?

Near the end of this one, Salmond rips into all of them including Bliar.

You can find them all here.

Anonymous said...

I see that the 10 Downing Street petition for Gordon Brown to resign is up to 70451 signatures

Anonymous said...

Over a number of years I have had many dealings with the FCO (Faintly Clueless Oldboys) at home and abroad and have become convinced that to succeed there, one must have one's spine sugically removed. The advice from FCO officials is always to appease the aggressor and negotiate from a position of weakness.

When I see them operate abroad I am normally outraged that I am paying tax for them and appalled that they reflect and project a view of Britain unrecognisable since about 1952.

Anonymous said...

Spotted by a commentator on Guido's site was this;
http://www.libyaonline.com/news/details.php?cid=75&id=8122

It tells of a visit arranged by the U.K. gov for a visit to Scotland about oil field development. They also said that one Libian name on the list is also on the names contained in letters with Jack Straw.

No matter where you look, the signs of a grubby deal or self serving action can be seen. To think that if Salmond gets his sought after independence he would turn down a business deal with Libya. He can also demonstrate that he is prepared to cut loose from the U.K. line.

It was in Scotland/U.K. interest to let Megrahi go. It could have waited until he was clearly at his end. But Scotland jumped the gun, why?

Pete-s

Scrobs... said...

Bit more here Anonymo...

Procrustes said...

OK,if this was truly in British interests,why not explain the reasons behind the decision up front? What do we get instead -the Labour machine goes into denial and spin mode over an issue which,if handled honestly,could have been a positive thing for them.

If Mandelson is pulling the strings,the way this has been dealt with suggests he ain't quite the genuis he is made out to be.

simon said...

I'm howling with laughter over this episode! It really is something that the Libyans have been the only consistent truth tellers- their spokesman who was 'doing the rounds' on the telly even found the whole thing hilarious. Bill 'The Truth' Rammell's comment last night spoke volumes about the duplicity of this rotten LyingLabour government. The sooner this lot are voted out the better.

genghiz the kahn said...

I was surprised to see Dave Milband representing Great Britain in Gdansk yesterday. Bet the Poles were impressed to see contrite German and Russian PMs bearing wreaths, but then the British send David Miliband, grandson of a man who fought for the Red Army in Poland in 1919.

Was Brown too busy or have the FO screwed up?

Quietzapple said...

As Bill Rammell now makes clear he had not discussed the mater with the PM the critical phrase "would not want" is revealed still more starkly as opinion.

http://twitter.com/Quietzapple

Had he wished to say "Gordon Brown does not want al-Megrahi to die in Jail" he would have, and the Libyans making their current pronouncements would have had less difficulty understanding their minute of the discussions.

When there is a non smoking spud gun, David Chameleon's PR skills come into play . . . .

Quietzapple said...

I felt very briefly & uniquely quite sorry for Salmond on Newsnight, as he was being required to accept the dishonest and known to be false assumptions of the interviewer.

The OFF button beckoned, and I would doubt any transcript the BBC might present, they, too, tend to get little words wrong so as to mislead.

Jeff said...

Thomas Hamilton is not a defining reason why Al-Megrahi should stay behind what a crass, over-simple line to take. Hamilton wouldn't have been released because he would be a danger to society whatever his age or stage. Megrahi quite clearly is not.

election now said...

Anon 1.02am said
" I'm still not really clear as to what was in it for the SNP in agreeing to the release. Given that the London government was so desperate to secure the release, I would have expected the Edinburgh government to have extracted some kind of quid pro quo from London on another issue. Any thoughts?"

Err it's called compassion. An alien concept in NuLab Britain but still hanging in there in Scotland

G Eagle Esq said...

Sehr geEhrter Iain

What a Shame that this wRetched Government seems to care more about a Mass Murderer than about his 270 Victims, who were not allowed the "Cloak of Compassion" and whose Mothers have not seem them for 30+ Years

...but they were only Americans .... or Scottish Family-Folk

Remaining Your obedient servant

G Eagle

Quietzapple said...

Cameron lied off course when he said on Breakfast that he and Obama had both said that the release of al-Megrathi was "Wrong."

The "Heir to Blair" did, but the man he wishes was his Twin said it was a "Mistake."

Chameleon is a twisting eel . . . .

John of Enfield said...

Some points for Gordon Brown to answer: -

1. What exactly were the "compassionate grounds". The prisoner was dying. This alone is not sufficient. Other issues must include remorse (none), the proportion of the sentence served (33%?), the crime (270 innocent dead), the impact on his "sponsors" (fantastic public celebrations).

2. Explicitly - on what grounds did HMG determine that they did not want the prisoner to die in jail?

3. Why was such an important issue which has such a severe impact on foreign relations so completely (and knowingly) abdicated to a jumped up parish councillor in Scotland (MacAskill for the avoidance of doubt). This completely contravenes the constitutional settlement.

4. Why did we so pointedly set our relationship with Libya above that with the US?

Gordon Brown wouldn't understand integrity or leadership if they hit him in the face. Next, he'll be making Michael Martin a Baron!

strapworld said...

Quitezapple. WRONG. MISTAKE.


Mistake= an error or blunder, a misconception or misunderstanding.

Wrong = Not correct or accurate, acting or judging in error. Not in accordance with correct or conventional rules or standards!

So just what is your point, sir?

Prince Rupert said...

I doubt for one minute that the US administration were not aware months ago that this man would be released. They knew and agreed to it in private because no-one wants Libya falling under the influences of the Chinese or Russians. Libya is strategically very important to the EU, so in private all agree, in public suitable horror, and in two weeks we will all forget

Liz said...

Blogger Quietzapple said...

"Cameron lied off course.."
Oh dear we'll have to get him back on course then.....

Quietzapple said...

Cameron lied of course when he said on Breakfast that he and Obama had both said that the release of al-Megrathi was "Wrong."

The "Heir to Blair" did, but the man he wishes was his Twin said it was a "Mistake."

Chameleon is a twisting eel . . . .

Quietzapple said...

If Strapworld re-reads his definitions he will see that "wrong" has a moral dimension in a context such as that in which it was used by Cameron, while "mistake" does not carry moral condemnation.

You may all have to try harder to keep up with Cameron's PR deceits.

Anonymous said...

The minute Mandelson said that it was "offensive" to suggest that the release was part of a deal, we all knew it was. The government needs to realise that the public now believes that the exact opposite of what Mandelson says will always be the truth.

Captain Scarlett said...

Not fair, Paul?

Can you please tell me why it isn't fair Paul Halsall?

I think you a very silly indeed.

Anonymous said...

Bad use of words Iain

"Explosive"

is perhaps not the most sensitive of adjectives in this scenario.

Émile said...

@ Paul Halsall said...
"Not fair, Ian."

I could not believe my eyes when I read what this idiot wrote. NOT FAIR. How condescending. So you are against democracy then Paul....
Why shouldn't Iain post this on his blog? I am still unclear what you mean by unfair?

And as for your comment about "Saudi Princess during Thatcher's years?" what planet are you on?
I suppose the next thing you will do is blame Margaret Thatcher for this. How f***** pathetic. Iain you do get some ignorant people on your blog.

My advise Paul Halsall is this - get off your high horse come back down to earth and smell the coffee

Anonymous said...

There is a factor which no-one here has mentioned and that is that there was a chance that Megrahi's appeal which was to be heard in the near future might have found him innocent and he would then have been released to the HUGE embarrasment of the UK and US, and the Scottish legal systems. This would have focused attention on what was probably a huge miscarriage of justice and opened a complete can of worms which would have impacted the US who may have been complicit in fabrication of evidence against Megrahi.

Quietzapple said...

Those who say they cannot tell the difference between "wrong" and "mistake" may be ignorant and mistaken, or dissembling, which is wrong.

Ask Mr Cameron. He has ways with words . . .

Then ask him if he wrote the "green shoots of recovery speech" for Mr Lamont.

Émile said...

I am still fuming about Paul Halsall'c comments.
I cannot believe someone would write this drivel.

How is it NOT FAIR.....? Do you mean Labour's foreign policy is 'not fair'? I am confused by your response Paul Halsall.....

Jules said...

dear salmon, brown and miliband,

the moral of the story is this:

when you are conducting delicate, shady realpolitik deals - and t'was ever thus in government, no problem there - do it discretely, do it skillfully and above all, do it with plausible deniability.

don't stuff it up in the glare of the public eye, have rings run round you by a wily opponent and end up making yourselves look like incompetent, squabbling and lying tw@ts. it's terribly bad form.

Anonymous said...

This story boils down to one poinit. It was never Brown's decision yet somehow, he and Rammell are ahouldering the blame.

It was a decision made by the Scottish Executive. End of. Brown had an opinion. Obama had an opinion. Cameron had an opinion (funnily enough, not until after the event - watching to see the public reaction perchance?) - but the final decision rested with the SE and Salmond.

Wasn't this Government under an obligation to consider the issue in a balanced, rational manner? for gods sake lets always live in hope that the nation is led by a Government that is able to see both sides of an argument. especially one as emotive and morally complex as this.

this is a media created storm. nothing more. A pathetic attempt to stick another nail in Brown's coffin. The thing is, there are 100 things that Brown is actually responsible for that warrant this level of attention. Stick to them rather than making fools out of ourselves for hounding a man for a decision he was never responsible for taking.

G said...

Paul Halsall said...
Not fair, Ian.
WHY IS IT NOT FAIR?

ctjw201 said...

I think that you are being unfair on the SNP here. There is no evidence to suggest that there is a link between Westminster's sympathy for Al-Megrahi to be released on a PTA and MacAskill's decision to release him on compassionate grounds. I think MacAskill's biggest mistake was visiting Al Megrahi in prison which runs the risk of conflating the issue of compassionate release with questions of guilt and innocence, and gave the impression of deal-making. But it would be extremely unlikely for the SNP to cave into Westminster demands - it isn't in their DNA! (There certainly seems to be no specific Libya-Scotland benefit).

The Conservatives in Scotland have proved themselves to be worthy opposition - their position is at least UK-wide and consistent, unlike Labour's - but as to your question about the Dunblane killer, yes I do think he would have been given compassionate release - there is an overwhelming legal precedent. A good summary of the argument by an actual legal practioner can be found here: http://www.jonathanmitchell.info/2009/09/02/compassionate-release-in-scotland-the-actual-policy-and-the-law/#more-9056

In particular read:

Thus, on the published facts of Megrahi’s case, had the Scottish Government refused to allow compassionate release in terms of a policy which had been applied by it and its Lib-Lab predecessors, and before them by Labour and Conservative Secretaries of State alike, it would have been open to legal challenge with excellent prospects of success. That’s the way the law works; it doesn’t suddenly cease to operate because the person claiming its benefits is criminal, or a foreigner, or because release is politically undesirable. Still less because of the improbable suggestion that Americans will boycott Scotland and all its works if Scots law is applied impartially and judicially.

strapworld said...

Quitezapple

Obviously working hard in the Brown Bunker, at taxpayers expense! What are you going to do in a few months time then?

Just think, Labour thrown out of office.All those MP's and their office staff and bunker boys and girls looking for jobs, when there are none due to Labour! What a prospect!

Labour-Never to govern again - unless of course the deal with the SNP is to go along with Independence for Scotland, in the hope they will lead that Country!! BUT Never again to lead England.

But to call Cameron a liar over useage of a word which is the same as the one Obama used is not only a nonsense but a pathetic, juvenile one.

AND, I do not support Cameron!

Bardirect said...

Where is the correspondence which led him to drop his appeal which seems rather fortunate for all concerned except Megrahi.

Any enquiry should address the issues in that appeal, whether the "identification evidence" should have been excluded (leaving no evidence against him) whether he was a victim of miscarriage of justice (as indicated by a Scottish Judge already)and whether the real culprits include Iran or Syria.

Anonymous said...

There is a factor which no-one here has mentioned and that is that there was a chance that Megrahi's appeal which was to be heard in the near future might have found him innocent and he would then have been released to the HUGE embarrasment of the UK and US, and the Scottish legal systems. This would have focused attention on what was probably a huge miscarriage of justice and opened a complete can of worms which would have impacted the US who may have been complicit in fabrication of evidence against Megrahi.

Quietzapple said...

Read as far as Strapworld (Strapworld???) started to lie about my location: Brown wouldn't want a Unilateral Nuclear Disarmer in his office, you can bet!

Then I noticed a denial of support for Chameleon.

Don't worry, one day you will be able to support him fulsomely, rather than by the default of attacking HMG, he will come round . . and round . . . and round . . .

Quietzapple said...

When Strapworld and Chameleon pretend that two words are identical and the dictionaries disagree, then, well . . . Chameleon has a little man who varied the dates of the painter Titian's life to suit his master . . .

"Tories have admitted a member of staff altered a wikipedia entry on the artist Titian after Cameron mocked Brown at Prime ministers questions, after Brown talked of the artist at 90, Cameron said he died at 86, shortly after the dispute a member of staff altered wikipedia n brought the date of death forward years earlier, the party admit n over zealous member of staff was responsible. this prove beyond doubt to me they are lying conniving gits, n also proves Cameron has no idea what he is talking about. there endeth the lesson.
___________" wrote Cashman

http://www.accringtonweb.com/forum/f69/ceefax-124-has-made-my-day-45519.html

Cynic said...

"that there was a chance that Megrahi's appeal which was to be heard in the near future might have found him innocent"

So what? That is what is called justice. This was a sordid financially motivated fix up.

But never mind - it will be in 'British interests'. No doubt some ex Ministers from this dire and dishonest regime will end up with appointments on the Boards of companies doing business with Libya after they are flung out of office next year. We can rest assured that then they will be continuing to look after our interests and not their own.

But for now the Labour Government has been caught again with it's collective trousers around its ankles. Now, when they lie they dont even bother to try to do it convincingly.

English First said...

I'm ex Mountain Rescue.

One aspect of the Lockerbie murders that repulsed us all beyond anything, was when tasked with "guarding" the dead, many of whom were in the open countryside and remained strapped into their seats, Teams were disgusted to see many odious individuals looting! It went on all night! Fact!

Bob of Scotland said...

John of Enfield..9.33am

It is nothing to do with Gordon Brown as he isn't an elected MSP so he has nothing to answer for. I think you meant the First Minister Alex Salmond.

1. He was deemed to be dying and had approximately 3 months to live. The other factors you mentioned were also considered.
2. HMG have no jurisdiction. It's a devolved Scottish matter.
3. Justice matters are devolved to Scotland.
4. Who do you mean by we ?

rightwingliberal said...

"The Americans were lied to when they were told that the UK government wanted al Megrahi to die in prison. Rachel Sylvester has written that we have seen the end of the Special Relationship. I hope she's wrong, but I fear not."

In case anyone is still curious about the reaction from the US, I would say the people most upset and angry about this are aiming their fire at the Obama Administration. The assumption here is that Washington is going through the motions, but is really unconcerned.

If that shocks you, I invite you to do what many of my fellow Americans are finally doing and take the binders off regarding our president.

jonnyargles said...

The only people who die in prisons are those who hang themselves or are killed by other prisoners. Medical staff have given him about three months to live - proper doctors, not the ones who already had the coffin knocked up for Pinochet, and were all surprised when he lasted another 8 years.

When his cancer reached the next stage he'd be taken off to a prison hospital and bed-ridden, anyway, by which time he'd be too ill to travel. The only difference to his own liberty would be that he'd be in a hospital bed in Scotland rather than Tripoli (or whereever), and that we'd have to pay for his medical bills. He'd probably be sedated or semi-comatose for most of the rest of his life, and the only people we'd be punishing would be his family.

I think the government expressed the right sentiment in this instance, and I wish that Milliband had stuck to his guns more rather than letting Tinseltits get all Paxman on him for a very minor statement.

Anonymous said...

Reality is that the relationship is only "special" when it suits American interests. Over the years since WW2, the US has ruthlessly pursued it's own interests regardless of others, UK included. We are linked because of intelligence sharing etc and the US is not just going to jeopardise those benefits or having Britain as a reliable diplomatic ally in world politics over Megrahi.

Maybe time will show that annoying the US wasn't worth the commercial benefits of trade with Libya and keeping Libya closer to the western camp but I doubt it.

Quietzapple said...

If Cameron thought he was a shoe in he would be laid back and honest . . .

John East said...

Every cloud has a silver lining.

I was in favour of releasing Ronnie Biggs, and his surprise release recently by the previously resolute man of Straw was a clear indication that the ground was being prepared for the release of Megrahi.

Biggs needs to thank the iron resolve of Gaddafi and the supine amorality of our socialist masters for his release.

Richard T said...

I think the matter is quite simple. When it came to power the SNP government did not have the slightest intention of transferring Megrahi to Libyan custody and the exchange pf letters between Edinburgh and London support this. Indeed the letters written by British ministers seem to combine both arrogance and slipperyness in one. It's clear that Alex Salmond wished to milk for all it was worth the incautious nods and winks given by Blair and co to the Libyans on a matter where they had no authority. Clearly the UK government could not deliver what Edinburgh wished namely the exclusion of Megrahi from the prisoner transfer deal and it looks pretty clear to me that the Scottish government had no intention of releasing him. I'd not say that this was to spite Blair but the embarassment of London over a devolved matter must have been tempting.

Two things changed. It has become obvious that there is a growing degree of uncertainty about the verdict in a large part of the Scottish legal establishment. The second is that Megrahi has terminal cancer. I don't think for a second that the Scottish government gave or give a fig for any UK interest - their focus is in Scotland which, in passing, is why I think Gordon Brown has been sensible in not offering any opinion on the decision (apart from what he is reported to have said to Gaddaffi).

My assessment is that the Scottish government did not want Megrahi to die in a scots jail per se and more so because of the potential for the guilty verdict to be overturned on appeal or following review. In either case an innocent man would have died in custody. Kenny MacAskill therefore used the get out clause of release on compassionate grounds.

I see no conspiracy with London nor any with Libya. I see a balanced judgement applied maybe for expedient reasons and maybe one which others would have decided differently. The rest in my view is silly season posturing and politicking as in the end all these theories depend on the SNP going against nature and digging the UK government out of a hole of its own making.

Quietzapple said...

I think it quite a cheek for americans, who let Mai Lai mass murderer Lt Calley out after 2 months, to object to the enactment of Scottish law, justice and mercy when the allies would not have had hold of al-Megrahi had not Scots jurisdiction been made available.

The idea that they would have executed him is a non sequitur.

America gains far more from British support than vice verca, and should realise at last that an honest friend is better than a dissembling one with PR on his mind.

True Belle said...

The purging of undesirables with some cynicism , will never alter the fact that al Megrahi is just about alive now and a token terrorist.

He is the real sacrificial meat that we ALL require to satisfy ourselves that through every act of TERRORISM this country has endured in the last forty years, al Megrahi is the one we would have liked to have incarcerated untill his flesh dropped away!

The English Physician said...

Business opportunities were important, for sure; but there's another factor.
I suspect they feared muslim riots in British cities, and maybe terrorist attacks, in the event Megrahi died in prison.
As leaders of muslim states know, the mullahs can always deliver a riot. That neck-lock is slowly tightening on our government too.

Elby the Beserk said...

@At September 01, 2009 10:44 PM , Paul Halsall said...
//
Not fair, Ian.

And remember the Saudi Princess during Thatcher's years
//

Or indeed, the sabotaged BAE Saudi fraud case.

Two can play at that game, eh?

Elby the Beserk said...

@ Quietzapple said...
//
Nick Robinson, former National Chairman of the Young Conservative
//

And now known as "toenails", because...

What the hell to do with anything is that statement.

jeffkramerak said...

Well, let’s face it…they let him go free through some secret favor or something…this is politics not Disneyland. “Compassion”, please!!! Give us smart folks a big break!!!

Kevin Rudd said...

Paul Halsall said...
Not fair, Ian.

How is it not bloody fair then Paul?

Sebastien said...

Paul Halsall said...

Not fair, Ian.

I cannot believe this man's logic. Why is it unfair? its interesting to see the amount of posts deriding Paul Halsall's idiotic comments.

However what we should also bring into light historically is previous PM's relationships with other heads of state.
How about we take a look at Thatcher's relationship with Pinochet in the 1980s?

Neo-Liberal said...

Paul Halsall is an IDIOT. FACT.
How can this post be 'not fair' in his words?
What a pathetic partisan attack on Iain Dale initiated by the sanctimonious Paul Halsall!

Paul what do you get off on? Seriously do get a life and come back when you have something worth while to say.

As for the Saudi Princess' I read one comment left by Mitterand stating "Did the Saudi monarchy actually blow up planes killing hundreds of people.
Grow up Paul and stop being a pratt."

Says it all really doesn't it.

One of the comments I would like to make to Iain Dale's post though is don't confuse the issue of appeasement with domestic considerations. You have to take into consideration a number of factors which also includes strategic domestic interests which are at stake in Libya and also the higher moral ground. To say that this equals appeasement is a slight exaggeration of the term.
I do believe it will have international implications with our relationship notably with the United States and the wider international community.

Thatsnews said...

I wonder... did part of the US government know about this all along?

Scotland wanted him out on grounds of compassion, the UK government on the grounds of trade and the US government on the grounds that if his appeal were to go ahead some rather unpleasant facts would come out about certain US government agencies.

Of course, everyone had to shout at the Scottish government. Either because they did not know about the deals, or knew and wanted to cover up.

Anonymous said...

Megrahi was the fall guy in this and his conviction was always dubious. Gaddafi is the terrorist who should still be on the international most wanted list rather than camping (in both senses) round the world in his powder blue fancy dress uniforms. I am sure that the US considers the CIA operatives guilty of the torture ordered by Cheney to be foot soldiers. Will they face prison? I don't think so. They might be reminded that Megrahi is really no different other than in scale. Of course Brown is the coward in all this, hiding behind that apron strings of the so-called Scottish "justice" system. This was a key British foreign affairs issue and should have been dealt with by the British Cabinet. Brown continues to take this country to the wall.

Paul Halsall said...

What a bunch of name-callers.

Elby the Beserk said...

@QZ

//
When there is a non smoking spud gun, David Chameleon's PR skills come into play . . . .
//

Good to see the ellipses back, though of course, it should be THREE full stops.

They are so ... meaningful...

You poor man. Born with a severely over-developed pomposity gene

Kevin Rudd said...

Paul Halsall said...

What a bunch of name-callers.

Its interesting that Paul Halsall hasn't defended his comments that the post 'isn't fair'.
Perhaps he knows the vacuous nature of such comments.

Émile said...

Paul Halsall said...

What a bunch of name-callers.

Paul Halsall is very immature with his latest comments. You would think he would defend himself in his argument about why this post is 'not fair' but instead he becomes juvenile.

Anonymous said...

Why does Paul Halsall not defend himself.

All you name-callers stop bullying him.... What has he ever done to you except for trying to deal you cocaine at a Florida gay nightclub?

Paul Halsall said...

aww didums.

Paul Halsall said...

It's odd how confused some of the responses here are.

1. It's not fair for Iain to have used the word "appeasement" because that refers to a specific and emotionally coloured case in which the Conservative leader N Chamberlain was seen to have betrayed the Country. There is no reasonable way in which current actions of the foreign office constitute "betrayal" of the country.

2. It's not fair to specify this as a Labour policy because ever evidence shows that all governments use Foreign policy to advance what are seen as national causes, right or wrong.

3. The sudden elevation of the US as a positive moral actor whose desires should always be agreed to is one that I doubt Iain himself believes.

4. As to attacks on me. Anyone can google my name and I rebut claims that I am an Idiot.

5. Anonymous attacks are not cowardly! How about I contact Carter and Ruck an ask for a poster disclosure order?

Paul Halsall said...

To repeat: Only Cowards and Blow-hards (pun intended) post under "handles" (which are just so mid-nineties) or as "anonymous".

H.A said...

Seems to me that despite the public moralising everybody has got what they want. Libya is strengthened, Megrahi is a hero back home and can see his family, the US and the UK can breathe easier knowing that Megrahi's potentially very explosive appeal will never be heard, and the UK and EU has trade with Libya. The elephant in the room is that Megrahi was likely innocent. While Megrahi's appeal was pending he could be not be released under prisoner transfer and if he left for Libya still alive the appeal had to be abandoned.