Monday, 28 May 2012

In whose name: Political reputations are fleeting

[This is the headline over an article published today on the website of Holyrood magazine by the editor, Mandy Rhodes.  It reads in part:]

What strikes me this last week is how ephemeral political reputations can be.

Only last issue I was praising Johann Lamont for her gracious humility in the wake of the better than expected council election results for the Labour Party and this week, I remain stung by her crass intervention following the death of Megrahi.

Let me, on behalf of the people of Scotland, apologise to the families of all the victims of the Lockerbie bombing, for his [Megrahi’s] early release.

On behalf of the people of Scotland? How dare she? I found Lamont’s presumption that she could speak for me offensive in the extreme.

I have my own voice and I have used it to be vocal and supportive of the release of that dying man from prison no matter what evil he represented in some people’s minds.

Johann Lamont is leader of the opposition, of Scottish Labour whose vote collapsed in Scotland at the last election. She was elected to lead a party that has just over 13,000 members, most of whom did not vote for her, so for her to take on the mantle of Scotland’s shame, grates.

And I am not alone. Many Scots believe that the decision by our Justice Secretary to release a man dying of prostate cancer was taken for the right reasons and at the right time. The inconvenient fact that the Lockerbie bomber outlived original medical predictions – something normally celebrated in relation to cancer patients – was principally down to his access to an expensive drug in Libya that is not yet available in Scotland. That is a truth tacitly acknowledged by those that are now so vigorous in their efforts to get that same life-prolonging drug available to Scots, using Megrahi as the poster boy for its use.

But here is a simple fact; if Megrahi had stayed in Scotland, his death would have been considerably more premature. That may be some cause for consternation for some, including it would seem, Ms Lamont, but for others with a bit of humanity and a sense of compassion, like Dr Jim Swire whose daughter, Flora, was killed in the atrocity, there is no solace in that argument and still no justice has been fully seen to be done.

So, amid conflicting emotions, wild accusations and extreme scales of belief about guilt or otherwise, Lamont takes it upon herself to speak for a nation and in doing so, unravels all the goodwill she may have recently won.

There’s a paradox there, in that a woman who decries a country’s leader for having the nerve to go out into the world and talk up Scotland, is the same woman who has taken it upon herself to talk for Scotland.


  1. The problem is that everyone who is, or who wishes to become part of the Establishment is complicit in the cover-up.

    They must stonewall any doubts about the conviction of Megrahi to stop the truth bringing the whole system into disrepute.

    The SNP were viewed as rebels who would open the files, and there are rebels in their ranks, but the leadership knows the truth hurts their cause too, because it was Scottish judges who did the dirty deed.

    Refusing to confront the truth may be the Realpolitik needed to avoid retribution from America, but it makes a mockery of all the talk about Independence, when they fail the Lockerbie test.

  2. I notice Ms Rhodes carefully avoids referring to any of the doubts in this piece she wrote. How bizarre. She even uses the name of Jim Swire in her lecture at Johann Lamont because he backed the Megrahi release. No mention however of the fact he was almost certainly innocent or that the SNP chose to become part of the plan to ensure his appeal would never be heard.

    The piece is all very Party-political.

    It is all very well for her to tell Lamont off for using the release of Megrahi as a political football but Ms Rhodes indulges in the same thing herself by ignoring the fact that no "compassionate" would have been necessary had the SNP allowed justice to proceed in the hearing of the second appeal.