[An article in today's edition of The Scotsman contains the following:]
Scottish voters have offered their backing for a controversial Labour election policy to jail all those convicted of carrying a knife, a Scotsman poll has revealed.
The poll, showing over 50 per cent approval for mandatory sentences for knife possession, came on the first day of Labour's fightback, which saw shadow chancellor Ed Balls drafted in to Scotland to help revive Iain Gray's faltering campaign.
Mr Balls also criticised the SNP government's release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi as "wrong" on the same day as the Scotsman/YouGov poll showed more than half of all Scots wanted him to remain in jail. (...)
Meanwhile, the same Scotsman/YouGov poll showed that 54 per cent said that the justice secretary had made the "wrong decision" to return the bomber to Libya, while 35 per cent backed the SNP minister's decision.
There were 12 per cent of voters undecided over the decision, which led to a recall of the Scottish Parliament during recess and sparked a diplomatic row with the US.
The latest poll revealed a hardening of opposition to the release of Megrahi's since the decision in August 2009, when 43 per cent of those polled approved of Mr MacAskill's decision, with 51 per cent against and 6 per cent undecided.
Mr Balls said he opposed Megrahi's release. He added: "Everyone has their own view. Personally I thought it was wrong to release Megrahi."
A spokesman for the justice secretary said that Mr MacAskill had made the decision to release Megrahi on the "precepts of Scots Law".
[The following is a paragraph from a column in today's edition of The Herald by Ruth Wishart:]
Some argue the Megrahi affair has damaged Kenny McAskill and made him vulnerable at justice, but many Scots applauded that release, and, in the context of a four-year term, he’s won over a lot of sceptics – not least backstage within the civil service. In fact, although some relationships have been rockier than others, the Scottish civil service has not been unhappy with the calibre of the outgoing ministerial team.