Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Pride or prostration?

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.


McGonagall said...

"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."

I like that a lot.

forfar-loon said...

Thanks scunnert, we'll get there soon!

Anonymous said...

Great post Loon.

"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."

Like Scunnert, I like that a lot. And I comletely agree with your conclusion.

The UK is a has-been power, clinging to the vestiges of its empire days, by being useful to the boss country, the USA. We are tolerated on the Security Coucil as a permanent member because we can be counted upon to support the USA in more or less everything they wish to do. No British Prime Minister wants to be the one on whose watch the UK is asked to leave this holy of holies, to be replaced by Japan, or India, or Brazil. (Incidentally, I think that France benefits from the UK compliance despite disagreeing with the USA on a wide range of topics. America couldn't reasonably get rid of France and leave the UK. As long as Britain stays, France has to be allowed to stay too.)

Scotland has no such worries. We don't pretent to be important in world terms. We are important to us, to our people and our friends and allies. Our First Minister will never stride the world stage as one of the giants. We can afford to do what is right, whilst taking into consideration the feelings of our allies.

I'm proud to be Scottish right now. I'm proud that our government had the nerve to take the stance that it did, the compassionate and decent stance, knowing that there would be a backlash.

Dramfineday said...

"I'm proud to be Scottish right now. I'm proud that our government had the nerve to take the stance that it did, the compassionate and decent stance, knowing that there would be a backlash."

Hear Hear TRIS, well said.

Now what we need from the SNP Government is to articulate the vision further and compare and contrast what we, the Scots, could do if the power was ours compared to what the opposition teams have to offer.

Finally, I think, this decision by Mr MacAskill will go a considerable way to help deflect the forthcoming referendum / election whine of "we cannae dae it oor sells, ye ken" - particularly when related to RBS et al.

Well now ye ken we can!

forfar-loon said...

Thanks tris, and I agree with your comment too! The Security Council is an interesting one. In these enlightened days of democracy what gives a select few countries the right to dictate the course of world events? As you say, several countries are queueing up to join the cabal, how long can they be headed off? And if they all join will the single member veto system persist?

forfar-loon said...

DFD, you're right, it would be great to see the SNP kick on from here and give a compelling, positive vision for Scotland's future. Given that the opposition have no idea what to do with Scotland it should be the only show in town.

Your second point is a good one too, although I think it's a broader one than just the referendum. With every passing day in government the SNP have shown that the sun will continue to rise and set, despite the unionists' dire apocalyptic warnings that we've endured for years. The issue of (in)competence can no longer be used against the SNP, and that has historically been the unionists' only weapon. Hopefully the electorate are getting very used to the idea that we can run things ourselves. It certainly seems that way with recent opinion polls demonstrating a clear desire for more powers, if not yet for independence. It looks like a one-way street to independence to me.

Anonymous said...


I suspect that the days of the current set up with the Security Council may be numbered. The original set up was supposed, I think, to be representative of the world as it was.

America to represent the Americas, France to represent Europe and the French Empire, The Republic of China (Taiwan) to represent Asia, USSR to represent communist countries and UK to represent the British Empire.

With that in mind, you are left wondering why most of these countries are still there. The USSR having been replaced by Russia, but no longer being communist. China having replaced Taiwan (Formosa), the UK not having an empire; France not having one either, and there now being a European Union to represent Europe.

Time for a change. A different world from 1948 needs a different solution.

But America still holds the sway in these things, picking up, as it does the largest part of the bill for the UN. (remember Nixon got rid of Taiwan and replaced them with China.)

All of which has nothing to do with your original post Loon and I apologise for hijacking it!!!

forfar-loon said...

You're right tris, although I notice from the ever-reliable Wikipedia that the EU pays more than the US.

No problem with hijacking by the way, the original point of this blog was to escape the shackles of Blether with Brian when it went through a particularly fussy phase of modding. Write whatever you want!

Dramfineday said...

It appears from a BBC Scotland commissioned survey that a large proportion of our people would "be so base as be a slave" Survey by the BBC Scotland, non biased it goes without saying - or as another of our bloggers would say - Aye Right!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for that. I didn't realise that the EU paid more than America. In that case it's about time we stopped letting them take the whip hand!

Anonymous said...


Aye Right! indeed.

Dramfineday said...

After today's antics in Parliament - prostration appears to ne the answer!


Anonymous said...

I watched most of the debate today. The quality of the speeches was poor and the arguments went over and over the same ground that had been covered in the statement that the Justice Secretary originally made.

In particular the arguement that Al Megrahi be kept in a hospice in Scotland. Over and over they went talking about the cost and the business of policing.

I'd dearly love to ask some of them if they fancied sharing a hospice with someone like Al Megrahi; if they wanted, in their their last few weeks, to be burdened with security men, police, etc; if their relatives would like being searched on their way in and out, pestered by tabloid press, asked to take photographs, offered money....etc.

Do these people not think....?

Silly question.

The government has been accused of bringing shame on Scotland, but as I listened to some of the speeches this morning, it became clear to me that it was this rabble of second raters that was doing that.... not the government.

ed iglehart said...

Just to add my own agreement to the rest.

It was indeed a day to be proud to be part of Scotland (McAskill's decision day). I was pleased to note the World at One carried it in full without interruption or commentary. An excellent editorial decision.

And the following manufactured outrage was an embarrassment as also (until independence) a member of the poodle UK.

A well put piece, brother Loon. Power to your pen! (keyboard)

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, I had an email from a mate of mine who lives in Kansas City, Mo. He says there's not much on the news about this, and no one is talking about it.

I don't think it's half as much of a deal in America as some of these opportunist politicians are making out.

forfar-loon said...

Howdy all, thanks for all your comments and apologies for not responding sooner - a week of R&R kept me far away from all talk of politics (and internet).

And what a difference a week makes. Looks like the SNP are squeaking ever cleaner while Labour sink deeper into the quagmire of their own shady dealings.

DFD: pathetic is the word. Not brave enough to make it a vote of confidence in either MacAskill or the government, the unionist parties have shamed themselves again.

tris: yep, most of the opposition benches are pretty second rate. Labour must have a production line somewhere to churn out this endless succession of red-faced obese eejits (male) and withered harridans (female) to plop into both parliaments. Not surprised the storm has blown over in the states - if ever a story was tomorrow's fish supper wrapping this was it.

ed: nice to hear from you Ed! Haven't seen you recently on Blether with Brian - or have you got a new username since single-handedly killing the Beeb's blogs?! Hope all is well in Tipi Glen anyway :o)

Dramfineday said...

Oh Dear there's more ---- Harris Tweed - ''We are not going to promote ourselves as a Scottish company as we would previously have done,'' said Mark Hogarth, the company's creative director.

I notice Brian Wilson ( ex nat of nat bashing labour fame) assciated with this.

Keep up the cringe!

Anonymous said...

Oh lord, what are they going to be now....? North British? What a twerp.

Oh Brian Wilson is involved, you say? In that case twerp is far to gentile a description.

Think banker....ish

forfar-loon said...

dfd & tris: Looks like the media might just have exaggerated this a teensy bit. Why would that be I wonder? Anything to keep the boycott "story" going. I find it amazing that a few arses start a group on facebook and the media dutifully report it as some earth-shattering movement to cripple the Scottish economy. Contemptible stuff.

Dramfineday said...

Mmmmm and I see an article in the Herald today from our whisky industry chums and their mounting concern regarding the boycott.......Jings no anither cringe