Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi

Scotland finds itself blinking in the spotlight of international attention. The land of tartan, whisky, clans and castles suddenly has a role on the world stage.

So how did this unusual situation come about?

Well, it all goes back to the Union of Scotland and England to form a United Kingdom in 1707. Scotland was very much the weaker party and was out-negotiated on the all the important issues such as trade, tax and political representation. We did however hold on to institutions that were important to us: our own education system, our own established church and our own legal system.

Until Prime Minister Tony Blair gave Scotland its own parliament and a degree of devolution, justice here was in the hands of the Secretary of State for Scotland, a member of the UK Government. But since 1999 we have elected our own Scottish administration to deal with health, education, prisons, environment ... and justice.

'And so', I am asked, 'is all this going to affect tourism?'
Well I really cannot imagine so. I fully understand the strong feelings expressed, but this release does not reflect any groundswell of pro-Libyan opinion in Scotland. Far from it. This is one man's decision, flowing from a long established and compassionate legal system. Right or wrong, it is now a fait accompli and the Scottish Government is unlikely to have a similar decision to take in the next 500 years.

In my view the big loser in all of this is Libya: that country has missed a unique opportunity to raise its standing in the world by demonstrating dignity, gratitude and respect for the dead.

1 comment:

Zyzzyz said...

Any American tourists who don't come to Scotland because of the decision are ones Scotland can well do without.