Monday, August 24, 2009

The Lockerbie bomber

The decision of the Scottish government to release the Lockerbie bomber who is dying of prostate cancer has been very controversial in the UK. Readers may not be aware of the strange governmental set up in Scotland. The British parliament devolved government responsibility to Edinburgh some years ago, so that a parliament there makes its own decisions about many things without asking the British government's permission. In reality Scotland is a lot more socialist than England; were it not for Scottish votes, we would never have a socialist government in England. Scotland has long had its own law which is different from the rest of the country. The ruling party in Scotland is the Scottish National Party made up of defectors from the Labor party who felt the leadership was too right wing, while the Labor party, which is the party of government in Westminster is the chief opposition party in Scotland. It is highly unlikely that the Labor party had anything to do with the release of the Libyan and it has been heartily condemned by the Scottish Labor party. Gordon Brown could do nothing to prevent it any more than Obama could.

Most English people are appalled by the Scottish decision. But then the Scots are a law unto themselves. They have already implemented several domestic policies that cost a lot of money and the English have had to pay for them. When the Tories are elected next year they would do well to stop Scottish MPs from voting on matters that purely affect the English. The Scots haven't been popular in England since Mel Gibson made Braveheart - a complete travesty of history.

Americans are justifiably angry at the release and some are planning a boycott of Scottish goods. Perhaps that is justified though there is no justification in boycotting English goods. However they should remember that an awful lot of Scottish soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. An independent Scotland would almost certainly cancel Trident (British nuclear subs are based in Scottish ports) and withdraw their troops from foreign wars.


Burke said...

Very interesting, doc. I had no idea that Scotland was so socialistic. In the recent past, I've heard about Ireland being more capitalistic, so this is a puzzle.

What is it about Scotland's past that makes them so socialistic, if you know?

Terry Hamblin said...


Burke said...

Capitalism brought the world out of poverty. Why don't the Scots embrace it rather than socialism?

Like Ireland has done (I've read)?

Like much of the rest of the Western World did.

Terry Hamblin said...

Scotland is cold and wet except for a few weeks in the summer when you get eaten by midges. All the clever Scots migrated to Hong Kong, England or Canada, just like the Irish migrated to America. Ireland's capitalist economy has collapsed with the credit crunch.

Anonymous said...

The one thing that I find so difficult to understand is the way that Europeans in general seem so willing to "trash" Israel and simultaneously court the Islamic world as evidenced by such things as this incident and the recent ridiculous article published by the Swedish press that israeli soldiers sold body parts from Palestinians killed during the limited war with what I call "Hamastan" (a war which Hamas provoked).

They seemingly ignore the suicide bombings, beheadings, murder of journalists/filmmakers and the shameless amputation of the fingers of voters in Afghanistan, much less the stonings, rapes and mutilation of presumably innocent women.

All of these things would seem to be an anathema to Western culture, but they sem to get a 'free pass'.

Mind you, I am not excusing israel for it's errors and excesses, but they are the only Western democracy in an Islamic sea which swears that it will not rest until it pushes the Israelis into the sea.
I would think that Europe would be next, but the Europeans don't seem to see things this way.

I personally would not have had a problem if this man was quietly released from prison, but all of the fanfare and the hero's welcome in Libya were way over the top!

What is your take on all of this?


Terry Hamblin said...

I am not one to show compassion to unrepentant murderers. If there has been a squalid deal over his release, I am ashamed for my countrymen, but I doubt it has been as overt as this. We have to remember that the US shot down an Iranian airliner in the Gulf shortly before Lockerbie and there are string suspicions that Libya was not acting alone in this. For all the American grief over Lockerbie, 56 of the dead were British nationals, proportionately a larger number than the Americans. (The American population is six times greater than Britain's).

Although individual Moslems of my acquaintance have been nice decent people, there is no denying that Islam has been a religion keeping its people in poverty and subjection for the past 600 years. The Enlightenment has passed them by. Their treatment of women and criminals is reprehensible. The Arabic lands have the population of Spain yet they have contibuted far less to world culture and human knowledge than that country in the past century, even though Spain was repressed under a Fascist dictatorship for much of that time. Islam only advises its adherents to tell the truth to fellow Moslems, the rest of us may be lied to with impunity

Israel has some merits though many sins. It does stand by certain human rights, but Judaism is not the same as Christianity and seems to me to be lacking in mercy.

Anonymous said...

I am not schooled enough in the nuances of Judaism to be able to pursue a scholarly argument, but I must respectfully disagree with you in your assessment that Judaism is lacking in mercy.

Judaism was born in an era before the "enlightenment" and Jews have been persecuted many times by people (unfortunately often by those who professed to be Christian) in the years since the "enlightenment".

The Jewish faith is rooted in the "Golden Rule"..."Do not unto others as you would not have done to you" and the principles of Tzedakah (charity) and Takun Olam (to strive to make the world a better place) are very important parts of Judaism.

The Israelis, while principally Jewish people, are a nation under siege and their behavior has no doubt been sculpted by the politics of the late 1800s through to the present.

The behavior of the Israeli government and it's citizens should not be interpreted as the behavior of all Jews.

Like all peoples there are Jewish scoundrels (eg, Bernard Madoff) as well as many heroesand many kind hearted people who live under the radar, etc.

My earlier points were not a condemnation of the Muslim faith, but rather of the behavior of radical Islamists as well as the political goals of the governments in the middle east who subjugate the Palestinians as pawns in their chess game to eradicate Israel.

This DOES NOT excuse the Israelis for any reprehensible acts that they perptrate against the Palestinians or anyone else. I just don't understand the attitude of most Europeans about the Israelis in the face of the many atrocities perptrated in the name of Islam. Why isn't there more balance? Could it be antisemitism...I hope not and don't claim that that is the case, I just wonder.


Terry Hamblin said...

My mother's mother's mother was Jewish, so technically I am a Jew though only one eighth Jewish genetically. My sister who worked in the rag trade passed for Jewish and her son looks very Jewish. So racially I have no point to make. Most Jews I know are completely secular and their religion is just part of their tradition, which they enjoy. Religious Jews seem to me to be particularly unforgiving. Their golden rule is the opposite of the Christian rule which is "Do to others as you would have them do to you" The Jews of the first century mostly rejected Christ, though of course Peter, Paul, Matthew, Mark, and John were all Jewish. The mark of Christianity is undeserved favor, or grace. God saves us in spite of what we have done rather than because of it.

Many of the sternest critics of Israel are Jews. Britain has many reasons to dislike Israel. While trying to impartially administer the UN mandate in the 1940s British soldiers were murdered by Isareli terrorists like Begin. Nevertheless I supported Israel in the six-day war and the Yom Kippur war in 1973. I am not taken in by the Arab propaganda and fake photographs produce by Hesbollah and Hamas. However there is a left wing conspiracy led by the BBC which favors the Palestinians (who are actually Jordanians since few people lived in the Palestine that was granted to Israel in 1948 by the UN) mainly because they are the underdogs. In my opinion they are the underdogs because they espouse a backward looking religion or at least a form of Islam that is completely wicked. I know that some Moslems are decent people, but the form of Islam that we see in Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Somalia and many other countries has absolutely nothing to commend it.

Angus Loon said...

The Author wrote:
Were it not for Scottish votes, we would never have a socialist government in England
This is incorrect. England overwhelmingly voted Labour in 1945, 1966, 1997 and 2001. In fact there are only three brief periods when a Labour government was kept in power by non-English. (1950-1951, 1964-1966 and Feb 1974 to Oct 1974).
The ruling party in Scotland is the Scottish National Party made up of defectors from the Labor party
Again there is no evidence for this. The SNP are strongest in those parts of Scotland that were once Tory e.g the North East, Perthshire etc. The SNP are weak in the Labour heartlands of Glasgow and West Central Scotland.

To answer a previous posters query about why it is more socialist than say Ireland. One reason is a legacy of the heavy industries (shipbuilding, steel making and coal mining) which were breeding grounds of socialist activity. Another reason is the large Irish Catholic vote in the west of Scotland (around 30% to 40% of the population of greater Glasgow are 3rd, 4th generation Irish). For historic reasons there has long been a symbiotic relationship between this Irish diaspora and the Labour Party (and Celtic Football Club).

It is important not to overstate the strength of the Labour Party in Scotland however. The First past the Post electoral system, which is used for Westminster, greatly benefits the Labour Party at the expense of other parties due to the fact that their support is concentrated in west central Scotland. The Labour Party can easily get 60% to 70% of the seats with only 30% to 40% of the votes.By contrast the SNP do extremely badly under FPTP because their support is more evenly spread out. Also there are large areas of Scotland (e.g the Highlands, the North East and the Borders) where Labour does very badly and has no representation at all.

Terry Hamblin said...

Angus Loon certainly sounds like a Scotsman so he is probably more familiar about the Scottish situation than I. The leader of the SNP is certainly a Labor defector. The rest of the SNP are people who haven't put their head above the parapet in the UK until this fellow released the bomber.

Whether it's true that England voted overwhelmingly for Labor on the occasions Mr Loon cites is questionable. The FPTP system heavily favors Labor in England too. It takes fewer votes to elect a Labor MP than a Tory one. We also have to put up with the malign influence of Scotsmen in English constituencies.

Angus Loon said...

My data was sourced from .

Your are quite right about FPTP benefitting Labour in England ,due to Labour gerrymandering the boundaries, but to demonstrate how perverse the results are in Scotland the following is the FPTP results from the last Scottish Parliament elections in 2007.

The SNP got 664,227 votes and won 21 FPTP seats. Votes/MSP was 31,630
Labour got 648,374 votes and won 37 FPTP seats. Votes/MSP was 17,524
The Conservatives got 334,743 votes and won 4 FPTP seats. Votes/MSP was 83,686
The Lib Dems got 326,232 votes and wone 11 FPTP seats. Votes/MSP was 29,657

Of course it is proportional representation in the Scottish Parliament so after the regional list seats were allocated the SNP had more seats than Labour. Note too that the Conservatives got more votes than the Lib Dems but got a third of the FPTP seats. Again this is because the Lib Dems have concentrations of support in parts of the Highlands and Borders.

Could you please enlighten me as to the meaning of your last sentence. Are you talking about the WLQ?

Terry Hamblin said...

Tony Blair

Terry Hamblin said...

I don't really want this correspondence to degenerate into a debate on Scottish politics of which I know very little, nor to a debate on voting systems. I am sure that there are lots of things to say on both sides. Rather than expose my ignorance I shall not be offering room for further comments on this topic. If you are keen to get your own point across, start your own blog.