Thursday, 10 February 2011

Lockerbie: some shrapnel

[This is the heading over an article published today on Ian Bell's blog. It reads as follows:]

Something stuck in my mind. It came to me just after the wave of fatigue you get from the sort of approbation you neither need nor seek. Specifically, it was this: a brief comment in the Telegraph, that blunderbuss among reactionary snipers, on August 21, 2009.

On Wednesday night, I was still thinking about Lockerbie. We had just driven back and forth in a day and night to the Humber’s edge so that my wife could sit with her dying mother. But I’m a hack. In the car, coming back across the border, I thought: Fucking Brian Wilson. Must look it up.

I’m so old, I keep cuttings. Not just any old cuttings; only the important mounds. August 21, 2009.

Wilson is a hack, too, of long-standing, who surely won’t mind if I remind the world that he was locally-minded, once, and may even have made a youthful political gesture of nationalism (with a tiny n), and later gained some expertise as a minister with an energy brief, before he grew energetic, post-ministerially, for Energy. That stuff is none of Scotland’s concern, of course.

Anyhow, in the cutting Wilson’s sub stunted a cunning paraphrase: “The SNP’s Libya stunt has shamed my nation”. With a determination born of free West Highland localism, the writer began: “The Scottish Nationalists have never been too fussy about the international company they keep”.

He then excoriated Alex Salmond for opposing the bombing of Belgrade. This sally was in tribute to the late Robin “Ethical” – unless you happened to have met him – Cook. Apparently, Cookie was Wilson’s companion on the British parliamentary – sorry, I’m straining this joke – road to socialism.

Let the quote do some work instead. Wilson wrote – on August 21, 2009, mind you: “Rarely can so many decent Scottish stomachs have turned than at the sight of the Saltire being flourished in Tripoli as a centre-piece of the repulsive celebrations to welcome home the mass murderer Megrahi, courtesy of the SNP”.

Wilson judged the entire affair to have been a matter of self-aggrandisement. He wrote that, “The vast global audience for the rantings of Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Minister, could have been forgiven for assuming him to be the spokesman for a sovereign state, albeit a tinpot one with curious moral values”.

Bear that phrase in mind: “curious moral values”. History being slow but oddly quick on its feet sometimes, how are those turning stomachs now?

The net’s Nationalists will give you a quick answer. Labour’s multifarious du­plicities stand exposed. MacAskill has been vindicated. I’d get the usual reflex­ive praise just for saying so, over and over.

The rantings of Brian Wilson were of a piece with each of Labour’s stitched-to-order lies levelled against the Justice Secretary. For some people, that’s better than enough. They’d like me to say nothing else from now until – My, is that the time? – May.

But here’s a problem: Kenny MacAskill is still Justice Secretary; al-Megrahi is still “a convicted mass-murderer”; and a government of Nationalists still refuses to attempt to make public the facts that each one of them, MacAskill in the van, under­stands.* To paraphrase that Telegraph sub-editor, someone is shaming my nation.

Labour have had their turn. Wilson’s siblings have been exposed. But they are not in government, currently, in Scotland, where the plane fell from the sky. That would be another party.

Nationalism’s bots course through the local web demanding that the MSM tell the truth. Good luck with that. But here’s weird: MacAskill has part of the truth about Lockerbie at his fingertips. He and Alex Salmond, his First Minister, could find out a great deal more with a full public – not parliamentary, please – inquiry into the mas­sacre. The farrago of al-Megrahi's farcical conviction is a stain on Scotland’s honour: what greater cause for truth could there be?

What’s the worst that could happen? That Salmond and MacAskill could join the likes of Wilson in defending the conviction, yet again? Surely not. Surely it would take a mainstream media plot to make that smear true?

But it is true. Someone else is shaming my nation.

* I should have said that, in this, I exempt Christine Grahame MSP from criticism. Apologies.

[RB: Wow!]


  1. He's the best hack we have.

  2. I just saw Alex Salmond on Newsnicht promising to introduce primary legislation to allow the publication of the complete SCCRC statement of reasons. (I want the whole 800+ pages and 13 appendices, it was my £1.1 million that paid for it, but one step at a time.)

    He was acting like this was something really important to the case he was making. Never mind that Prof. Black says it doesn't need primary legislation anyway, what the blue blazes is he playing at? I'm completely baffled.

  3. OK, I just read the following article. I guess that makes it a lot clearer.


  4. The promise appears to be contingent on the SNP being returned to power in May. Hmm - a piece of positioning? (Of course, we would have done this/that if elected).

  5. Perhaps the Scottish General Election 2011 should now focus on Lockerbie?

  6. Very difficult to pull that off Patrick. We're dealing with the Scottish media here remember. : (

  7. Vronsky, if only he had made the promise nearly four years ago just as they were elected and just as the SCCRC report was published. Now THAT would have been something.

  8. I watched This Week last night with growing frustration. Neill, Portillo and some unfamiliar type from Labour sat discussing the release for a good while without ONCE mentioning the official doubts cast on the conviction. What is wrong with these so called "current affairs" and "news" programmes who will not acknowledge the existence of the SCCRC findings? Neill in particular KNOWS about the doubts. How can they sit there and ignore it and treat those watching as if we are a bunch of idiots! I have emailed the programme, I don't suppose I'll get a reply, but really its disgraceful.

  9. Just a thought or two directed at those that comment here that are from the UK:

    Many of us not from the UK have a difficult enough time following the unfamiliar political names in the comments let alone the journalistic names.

    I've said before that I believe it is in the best interest of the Cause (determining the truth) that more North Americans become informed about Lockerbie issues.

    It might help if someone let the world know frome time to time who these journalists are, what papers they write for, and what the reputations of such newspapers are.

    As far as Ian Bell's recent articles go, Wow indeed! It's a shame North American media outlets haven't picked up on his work.


    Note the connection to the Sunday Times in the years following Lockerbie, when the Insight column was being dumbed down and turned into a vehicle for official leaks. This was the platform for Leppard's spot-changing.

    If you have no idea what I'm talking about, re-read Paul Foot's Lockerbie report. Neil has been up to his neck in this from the word go, and prominent in the media manipulation.

  11. Perhaps the Scottish General Election 2011 should now focus on Lockerbie?

    Oh that's always good for the truth - set it to work supporting politics.

    FI, I have similar problems, but I've always figured it's on me to Google these things, and I usually don't and just stay confused. :)

  12. CL: Both you and I take an interest in these matters that goes far beyond what an average person's interests might be. We may take time to Google but will the average North American reader?

    More likely they will just read and believe what is in their local newspaper rather than take to time to find and read Scots news stories online, which means they will read the type of stories RB linked to today in the Chicago Sun Times.

    Note also the online comments connected to the Sun Times story from Americans that think sanctions should be re-imposed on Libya or that Libya should simply be wiped off the map (a view also expressed by certain US victim family members in the past, which some may still hold).

    It will be a very difficult uphill battle to change pubic opinion in America, but in my view that is exactly what needs to occur. If such pubic opinion were to change there - well it would be a whole new ball game.

    You of course are doing your part and more CL.

  13. Cheers Rolfe. I'll have a look.

  14. I watched This Week last night with growing frustration. Neill, Portillo and some unfamiliar type from Labour sat discussing the release for a good while without ONCE mentioning the official doubts cast on the conviction.

    Gisela Stuart MP (Birmingham, Edgbaston) is that unfamiliar type from Labour, Jo G, on last Thursday's This Week. I'm very disappointed that she avoided all mention of the SCCRC and its findings.

    You might be interested to know that Gisela and I were rivals seventeen years ago for the Labour nomination in the Midlands Euro Constituency which included Bromsgrove (where Dr Jim Swire resided at the time). She was selected by the CLP in preference to me, but lost to the Tories in the June 1994 Euro Elections.

    If only I had secured that nomination and then been elected to the European Parliament in 1994, I would have campaigned to have a proper investigation into the Lockerbie bombing so that the real perpetrators were found, and we would not be in the monumental mess that we're in today!

  15. Thank you Patrick. No she didn't want to focus on anything except the embarrassment of Megrahi's release and how absurd it was that it was permitted.

    You know I think we should dig up the bodies of many long departed Labour people of principle - yes they once existed - and then re-bury them in the same cemetary. For it seems to me the speed at which they must all be spinning would, collectively, generate enough energy to justify connecting the ground accommodating them to the national grid.