A great deal has been written about Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill's decision to grant Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi compassionate release. I don't propose to repeat any of the analysis of the rights or wrongs of that decision, or of the reasoning behind it.
Instead I'd like to focus on the reaction to the reaction. That is to say, how our politicians in Scotland have reacted to the criticism this decision has been met with elsewhere, and what this might tell us about the current political landscape in Scotland.
The positions, with one or two notable exceptions, have been drawn as follows:
* Tory/LibDem/Labour - disagree with the decision, worried about the effect on our relationship with US, "repulsed" by the Libyan reaction.
* SNP - sticking with the decision despite criticism from the USA, emphasising that our relationship with the US is bigger than this one issue, unhappy with the "inappropriate" reaction in Libya.
In my opinion the SNP have demonstrated greater political maturity by correctly making the decision on judicial grounds despite external political pressures, and also by steadfastly holding true to their position in the face of quite vicious criticism. It has been nothing other than the behaviour of a responsible government, acting according to the law and recognising that a nation's credibility is ill-served by meekly rolling over and being tickled on the belly when the first dissenting voices are raised. In short, it's exactly the behaviour you would expect and demand of a sovereign national government, and hopefully a nice taste of things to come in an independent Scotland.
In contrast let's examine the opposition stance. Unable to find any substantive criticisms of the way the decision was made, and boy how they've tried, they have been restricted to feeble and ill-conceived sniping around the fringes (Megrahi should go to a hospice?! Nice one Goldie). There is of course nothing wrong with proper scrutiny of the executive. But the opposition have gone beyond this and badly shamed themselves by their attempts to score party political points over this issue, as notably expressed by Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm.
Almost as bad has been the opposition's hand wringing display in the face of US criticism. It betrays an appallingly deferential attitude, born of a very obvious inferiority complex. Ironic really, as this was always the accusation levelled at proponents of independence.
Indeed, these recent developments have made it abundantly clear that the SNP desire for independence is an expression of nothing other than self-confidence in the abilities and status of Scotland. One could put it as follows: We will make our own decisions; where others disagree we will take account of their concerns, but we will make our own decisions; we are confident and secure in our relationships with other countries; we are confident in our ability to manage these relationships when we disagree.
This stands in marked contrast to the servile dependence of the unionist parties, and hence the UK, on the goodwill of the US to the exclusion of all other considerations. One could summarise this approach as follows: Please don't hate us, please! We'll do anything, if only you'll be our friend!
Soon Scotland will again face a choice at the ballot box. Take control of our future, assume full responsibility for our nation's fortunes and take our place among the fellowship of nations. Or skulk along as America's poodle's puppy, looking up with those big eyes, desperate to be loved.
I know which country I would rather live in.