Over the past three days, as the Lockerbie ‘terrorist’ release turns into a full-blown international incident, we have heard not one word, or even a Twitter, from the man who saved the wurreld (and its banks). This is highly unusual; Gordon and his wife Sarah Twittered from Inverkilliecrankie, or wherever they are on holiday, catching crabs and burying each other in the sand, when the ungrateful Evil Empire dissed the NHS. This time it’s serious. Somebody gave Gordon’s independent-minded fellow Jocks a pass to give Abdulbasset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted for the Lockerbie bombing, a get out of gaol free card on the spurious pretext that he had less than three months to live.
Let’s leave aside the mountain of evidence that al Megrahi and Libya probably didn’t do it. He was threatening to appeal, a process which would have certainly opened the UK and US to wide and embarrassing scrutiny of their highly circumstantial fingering of Libya, then THE axis of the axis of evil, now everybody’s best friend and a bulwark against terror. Blame switched from Syria, the HQ of the PFLP- GQ terrorist cell allegedly paid by Iran to carry out the bombing as revenge for the downing of Iran Air Flight 655 six months earlier (1988) by the USS Vincennes, killing 290 civilians, when Syria joined the Bush 1 and Thatcher ‘Coalition of the Willing’ in the first Gulf War. Let’s ignore Scottish due process which dictates that a terminally ill prisoner should be released on compassionate grounds to die in dignity. Let’s ignore the oft-repeated fact that post-devolution, Scotland makes its own decisions in law. Let’s try and pretend that Britain isn’t the 51st US state, even if the antics of the past few years have understandably left the opposite impression.
Let’s try and focus on the facts. Last Friday UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband furiously demanded that BBC news presenter John Humphrys retract the ’slur’ that the FCO had anything to do with it. Today’s Sunday Times revealed that Ivan Lewis, UK Foreign Minister responsible for Libya, ‘is said to have written to the Scottish government, encouraging officials to send home’ al-Megrahi. Ten days ago ‘Lord’ Peter Mandelson, Business Secretary and de facto ruler of Great Britain, admitted discussing the subject a couple of weeks ago with Colonel Gaddafi’s son Saif at the Rothschild villa in Corfu. Today, after a mysterious prostate operation (in sympathy with al Megrahi or the result of some other sort of probe?) Mandelson broke his own uncharacteristic silence to declare it ‘offensive to claim’ that this meeting was connected to the release of the Libyan or to trade deals, despite the fact that Saif-al-Islam Gaddafi had emphatically declared the opposite. Colonel Gaddafi, meanwhile, has effusively thanked just about everybody in the UK:
“To my friends in Scotland, the Scottish National Party, and Scottish prime minister, and the foreign secretary, I praise their courage for having proved their independence in decision making despite the unacceptable and unreasonable measures that they faced. Nevertheless they took this courageously right and humanitarian decision.” And I say to my friend Brown, the Prime Minister of Britain, his Government, the Queen of Britain, Elizabeth, and Prince Andrew, who all contributed to encouraging the Scottish Government to take this historic and courageous decision, despite the obstacles.” (Reuters).
Barack Obama came slowly out of the traps to declare the decision ‘highly objectionable.’ Despite the fact that the release of al Megrahi was ‘on the agenda at every meeting between Blair and Libyan officials’ it was highly OK for St Tony to broker a return of Libya to the international coalition of the hypocrites in 2004 when we realised we were running out of oil and there was rather a lot of it there, not to mention a strongman capable of bullying the bejasus out of many of the the other whackjobs in Africa, especially Sudan, and Mahgreb Middle East. Despite the fact that we knew more than a week before it happened that this release was on the cards, FBI Head, Robert Mueller, sent a hissy letter expressing outrage and astonishment to Kenny MacAskill, Scottish Justice Minister, clearly intended for public consumption (printed in full in The Times). Various neocons (and David Cameron) have postured their horror at the release of this convicted terrorist and outrage at his hero’s welcome in Tripoli as though this was a bolt from the blue.
Those are the facts. Here’s some outrageous speculation. Gordon Brown desperately needs sovereign funds. Mandelson told him that this was a small step to take and that nobody would bother once the dust had settled, and anyway, his new friend (and UK homeowner) Gaddafi jr had assured him the return of al Megrahi would pass off quietly. Scotland, an oil and gas economy, was promised lucrative oil supply contracts and plentiful exports of Dundee rock, Irn Bru, tartan and sporrans. The US agreed to turn a blind eye on the condition that Gaddafi refrained from dancing the Highland Fling. Besides, it’s a big bonus if al Megrahi dies without making an appeal – the dirty secrets surrounding massive CIA manipulation of witnesses and evidence, including the possibility that Pan Am Flight 103 was carrying US secret service contraband die with him. Mandelson wins either way: if Brown is discomfited and if the Scottish National Party is put in the hole, his task of bullying the Labour Party is strengthened (Labour desperately needs seats in Scotland in the upcoming General Election). The inconvenient truth is that Colonel Gaddafi is a loony and his son appears to be a blowhard, so the whole yellow ribbon homecoming was unfortunate, but you can’t win them all. Champagne all round at Chateau Rothschild, Corfu branch. Another dinner guest has provided immense entertainment value on the international stage.