Gordon Brown wanted the Lockerbie bomber to die a free man
The logic really is quite simple: if the Prime Minister did not want Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi to die in prison, he must have wanted him to die a free man. In order for him to die a free man, he had to be permitted to leave prison and return home to Libya, even if Libya, with its thousands of tortured martyrs and ‘missing’ citizens be not quite as free as a Scottish prison.
The release of correspondence between the British Government and the Scottish Executive is illuminating to that appalling extent. If this be true, as it appears to be, then the British Prime Minister has lied to the United States of America.
As Cranmer has watched over the past few weeks in a far-off land depressing hours of Scottish denigration and British humiliation, he has been dismayed at the perception conveyed by foreign news outlets (including the BBC World Service) that the ‘Scottish Government’ made the decision and that the British Government were powerless to do anything about it. And calls have consequently been persistent from civilised and hitherto friendly nations to boycott anything made in Scotland (and, by unjust extension, the whole United Kingdom, for our devolved constitutional arrangements are much of a mystery to rest of the world). The UK has been reclassified a rogue state: Scotland has joined the axis of evil.
Justice may indeed be a devolved competence, but foreign policy is not. And surely the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are not so witless as to believe that the release on compassionate grounds of a mass murderer of hundreds of British and American citizens would not do immense damage to the standing of the United Kingdom in the world, or in the United States at least.
Why should Mr al Megrahi have any expectation of compassion? Just how compassionate was he on 21st December 1988?
The civilised state does not bear the sword for nothing. And when it does not bear the sword at all, it possesses the means of retributive justice. And what ‘compassion’ does mass murder merit? To suffer terminal prostate cancer is tragic, and Cranmer is sorry that anyone should die of it. But why should illness be the cause of premature liberation? If Mr al Megrahi had been fined for a more minor misdemeanour, would he now be entitled to a partial refund? If he were to be kept in prison, would he be entitled to claim compensation for uncompassionate detention?
What is it in Gordon Brown’s moral compass and Presbyterian conscience which moves him to compassion in this instance? Why did he not want Myra Hindley and Ian Brady to die in prison? If either had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, would his Presbyterian conscience have wanted them to be freed on compassionate grounds while the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers and friends of their victims looked on in disgust?
Do not the relations of the Lockerbie victims deserve compassion?
All prisoners have a terminal illness. It is called life, which is irrevocably infected with sin, the consequence of which is certain death. It is final, unavoidable and irreversible.
Mr al Megrahi is just 57, and may yet have more time on this earth than the received prognosis, for the course of cancer can be unpredictable. Yet there are quite a few prisoners in British jails who are older than he, fragile in health and who are guilty of far lesser crimes than mass murder.
Why should they not be released early on compassionate grounds, for they are surely going to die?
The quality of mercy is not strained.
At least where international trade is concerned.
Scotland’s Justice Minister, Kenny McAskill, observes: ‘Mr Al Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one that no court, in any jurisdiction, in any land, could revoke or overrule. It is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die.’
But death is not the sentence. The sentence will follow the judgement. And that is decreed by the ‘higher power’, which should indeed be feared.
By Gordon Brown’s Presbyterian conscience as well.