So much for high moral purpose and compassion. It appears that the decision to free the Lockerbie bomber was at least in part to do with oil rather than doing the decent thing by a dying man. The Times has letters from Jack Straw that clearly show that al-Megrahi's fate has been in play in UK-Libyan talks for some years now. This despite undertakings given to the US that the man convicted of killing 270 innocent people in the skies above Scotland would stay in prison and serve his full sentence.
Now, Labour figures have been filling the airwaves to rebut the idea that there was a conspiracy to release al-Megrahi. The idea, they say, of the SNP Scottish government taking orders from Labour Westminster is preposterous. Well, framed in those terms they are right, but, of course, that is not how these things happen. This isn't some political thriller where the plot has to be packed into a couple of hours of screen time. What occurred is that the UK government systematically removed any percieved impediment to al-Megrahi's release. This left the desperately naive SNP able to indulge the traditional left-wing practice of doing things to feel good about their own moral superiority. A mix of duplicity and psychology, bear in mind that the SNP people and how they think are well known to Scottish Labour, and there you have it. More complex than a movie script perhaps, but equally effective.
Of course, Gordon Brown has also managed to damage himself further over this matter through the simple tactic of not telling us if he thinks the release of the terrorist was a good idea. With senior figures at home and abroad up in arms, including President Obama who was until lately Gordon's best pal, you would have thought that the British Prime Minister would have shown a bit of leadership. Gordon Brown is nothing if not consistent though, and he has consistently ducked hard issues throughout his entire career. So, Labour takes another knock, as does the SNP north of the border. This last may be most significant. On one poll, the SNP has dropped six points on this issue. That is very bad for them and some may be wondering if they were deliberately shafted by London, or if their shafting was merely seen as an added benefit in the trade deal.