Thursday, 8 November 2012

Megrahi release row Salmond's darkest day

Alex Salmond revealed yesterday that the row over the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was the lowest point of his leadership.

Speaking on the day he became Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister, the SNP leader said he would not be going “on and on” in the role, a reference to Lady Thatcher’s famous 1987 post-election interview.

His comments prompted speculation that Mr Salmond could be ready to walk away if he loses the 2014 referendum, but he insisted he had no immediate plans to quit.

The SNP leader officially overtook Lord Jack McConnell yesterday as the longest-serving First Minister as he completed 2,002 days in office.

Asked about his darkest day, Mr Salmond said that governments must deal with “political stooshies” but he added: “The Megrahi issue. I believe, absolutely, Kenny MacAskill took the right decision and for the right reasons and I think that was vindicated. But during that particular stooshie, which had Scottish and international implications, there were some difficult days.

“But if you’re doing the right things, and you believe you’ve done the right things, then that’s a great strength, and of course the election was vindication of that.

“People said the SNP government would never survive taking that decision. In fact, we survived to prosper.”

Mr Salmond, who will turn 58 next month, has been First Minister since May 2007, after making a dramatic comeback as SNP leader in 2004.

[From an article published in today’s edition of The Scotsman.]


  1. “People said the SNP government would never survive taking that decision. In fact, we survived to prosper.”

    I'm afraid that just means that people back then didn't attach much importance to the case - and if they didn't then, they certainly won't now. That will be the government's calculation: they can ignore concern over the conviction of Megrahi as nothing can come of it.

  2. No credit given for the bravery of the act even if you contention is that "not many people attached much importance" to it? And BTW why does no one including Prof Black ever suggest that the Scottish Government have probably been told by the Yanks "take this any further and we"ll crucify you"? I'd put my house on it!!!

  3. "No credit given for the bravery of the act"

    None whatever - it was a cowardly act. Your penultimate sentence is correct.

  4. Behind the scenes the American, British and Scottish Governments supported Megrahi’s release, because they were desperate to avoid his appeal from being heard.

    Their solution was to blackmail Megrahi by telling him to drop his appeal if he wanted to see his family again before he died.

    This is why his release by the SNP for allegedly compassionate reasons was a safe thing to, because there was no fear of American and British reprisals.

    Indeed I presume Salmond won some policy concessions for his co-operation?

    The only hard bit for Salmond was having to ‘bite his lip’ when being denounced by US media and Unionists for a decision that had the support of the American and British Governments.

  5. I'd say you called it closest Dave.

    Nevertheless, shame on Salmond and, especially, shame on MacAskill who went even further when he sneaked in extra "safeguards", in his "emergency legislation" after Cadder, to ensure any new appeal could be kicked into touch by a judge because he stripped the SCCRC of its power to refer a case straight back to the appeal court.

    It is quite something to consider that it was an SNP government who did this in order to serve the best interests of successive London governments who began, and continued, the deceit over Lockerbie. What the price of the SNP's treacherous decision was to do this is hard to imagine but I hope it was worth it for Salmond although, personally, if the nearly 300 dead at Lockerbie come back to haunt him it will be no more than he deserves.

    The SCCRC was set up, via an Act of Parliament, to review cases "without political or judicial interference". Shame on the SNP that they set that Act of Parliament aside in order to dance to a London tune over Lockerbie. Shame on them that since the SCCRC delivered its conclusions regarding the second appeal the case has suffered political and judicial interference on a scale that is truly shocking.

    The irony of having to suffer an outraged Salmond raving about the Supreme Court "interfering" in Scottish Affairs is not easily described. For he clearly had no such qualms when following London orders when setting aside the right of nearly 300 dead people and their families to know the truth behind their murder. He also had no qualms about denying a man, by then a very sick man, who was wrongly convicted to have his day in court.

    There are things I believe UK governments capable of but I will say I thought Salmond was better than that. But in fact, over Lockerbie, he is actually worse.