Can Salmond now stand accused of being “soft on terror”?
In the run-up to today’s release of Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Libyan spy who jailed in 2001 for blowing up Pan Am flight 103 with the loss of 270 lives, Hillary Clinton made a public plea saying the Scottish authorities should allow him to die in prison rather than being released on compassionate grounds.
She said: “I just think it is absolutely wrong to release someone who has been imprisoned based on the evidence about his involvement in such a horrendous crimeâ€ .
How things were different for Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond when he visited Washington not long after the new administration came in and got himself photographed with Hillary Clinton – a picture that is featured proudly on the Scottish government web-site.
All of this has added to the pressure on the Edinburgh authorities as they have wrestled with the Lockerbie bomber problem.
Ted put it succinctly in the last thread:- “The SNP Government, for the first time, are having to make a decision which doesnâ€™t have a populist upside for them. Release him and the US and many Scots are upset (all those nice feelings engendered in US tourists by the Homecoming at risk), keep him in and some of the SNPs MSPs, others will cast aspersions on Scots Justice. Its in an area they cannot blame the UK Government but have to take responsibility.”
I know that the SNP is trying to stress the quasi-judicial nature of the decision but I don’t think that is going to wash. It is the party in power and it is on its watch that the move has been made.
At this stage it’s hard to gauge the political impact but there is the danger the SNP will be labelled as being “soft on terror” – something that Labour strategists will be keen to seize on as the party seeks to defend a lot of seats north of the border.