The Wikileak about the last Labour Government’s lies and hypocrisy over their shameful involvement with Libya and Gadaffi over the potential release of the Lockerbie bomber in return for commercial deals was, in one sense, God’s gift to the beleagured Cameron ConLib Coalition, giving them an opportunity to attack the Labour Party.
However, they and their press backers realised that it was potentially a double-edged sword as far as the Union and the United Kingdom was concerned, since it placed the Scottish Nationalist government’s refusal to have any truck with the Prisoner Transfer Agreement under Blair’s sleazy Deal in the Desert, and their refusal to release Megrahi at that time in a good light. That, together with the SNP Government’s decision to release Megrahi - who by a much later date had been diagnosed as being terminally ill - looked even more like the humane, principled decision that it was, taken in the full belief, by the Scottish Justice Minister and the Scottish government, that Megrahi was guilty of the Lockerbie bombing, and that the sentence of the Scottish Court was a valid one.
Despite the clear political advantage to be gained over Labour, this could not be allowed to happen so close to a pivotal Scottish election, because it showed up the disgraceful hypocrisy and ineptitude of Holyrood Labour’s stance after the Megrahi release. The circle had to be squared - a way to muddy the water, distort the facts and smear the Scottish Government had to found - and quick.
A blatant lie was hastily constructed, that the Scottish Government had been complicit with the Westminster Labour Government of the day in trying to negotiate Megrahi’s release under the PTA in return for concessions on the prisoners’ slopping out case - a proposition and a scenario so ludicrous that Scottish Nationalists would have fallen about laughing, had it not been for the seriousness of the lie.
This lie has, knowingly or unwittingly, been repeated so often now by every unionist newspaper and superficial commentator - including at a point in time the BBC and Channel Four News - that it runs the risk of becoming a factoid - something that everybody knows to be true, except that it ain’t, to quote Norman Mailer, the originator of the term.
And now The Sunday Times are at it today -
Lockerbie Bomber ‘won his release by blackmail’
Note the quotes, achieving the dual feat of giving it spurious credibility while retaining the ability to repudiate it as something somebody else said, if the need arise.
This non-story uses a methodology now widely practised in the Scottish press as well, that of hoping that the headline will be the story, and that the casual reader will not examine the flimsy and inaccurate foundation upon which it is constructed.
The story rest upon the statement by Mustapha Abdel Jali, Libya’s former Justice Minister. I invite you to consider that title - Libya’s Justice Minister - a personal friend of Gadaffi, servant to a brutal, repressive, dictatorial regime, responsible for the suppression of its citizens for forty years by torture and murder, an international pariah state. This man, apparently expert at playing both ends against the middle, and now faced with the collapse of the regime he helped to sustain - with a few well-judged liberal gestures just in case - is desperate to curry favour with the US and British governments, and he knows exactly what they want to hear. A little caution is advisable when considering anything he has to say …
But I believe him - that Gadaffi did order the Lockerbie bombings, that Megrahi was involved, probably with others, and was therefore guilty. I also believe that Gadaffi was actively negotiating with Blair and the former Labour Government for his release.
This is in fact the only story, but the Sunday Times, a News International paper, solidly Tory and right-wing in its sympathies, has to find room for the Scottish smear in their cobbled-together little piece. So they included this paragraph - which is factually accurate - in the hope of beginning the mud-slinging -
“Megrahi, who has always publicly maintained his innocence, was given compassionate release by the Scottish authorities in August 2009 after being diagnosed with cancer. He remains alive, despite being given only three months to live.”
That last sentence is the ST’s hook - the implication being that Megrahi was not terminally ill.
A rent-a-mouth Tory MP, Ben Wallace, is quoted, and in his statement, a justifiable attack on Brown and his Labour Government’s disgraceful politicking over Megrahi for economic advantages, Wallace also says, referring to alleged bugging of Libyan intelligence services by the British Secret Service -
“The Scottish Government must now come forward and the Labour government tell us whether they were aware of these conversations, and if not, why not.”
Given that Alex Salmond quoted in last Thursday’s FMQs that the Scottish Government was excluded by Westminster from the COBRA talks over the Libyan crisis, the idea the the British Secret Service would be falling over itself to tell them about bugged conversations involving Libya is risible.
And that is the sum total of this shabby little report - it tells us nothing new, but implies a great deal.
God preserve Scotland and the Scots from the lies of the Union and its PRAVDA-style press ..