The Megrahi case epitomises the plus and minus sides of devolution

It’s pretty obvious that the SNP hierarchy doesn’t think that the Megrahi conviciton was safe. The language they use makes this clear: it’s all about sympathy for the victims rather than justice being done to a mass murderer.

I have no idea whether Megrahi was guilty or not. But the decision to release him on ‘compassionate grounds’ speaks volumes about the nature of government in devolved Scotland. It’s all about the executive using its democratic madate to undermine civic institutions (in this case the legal process). One of the biggest concerns about Scotland’s political trajectory is the lack of understanding about the proper role of government, elected or otherwise. Salmond and the others think that, just becasue they’ve been elected, they have right to tell everyone else what to do. Whereas the sucecss of Western society is based on the idea that individuals have inalienable rights, often enshrined and protected by institutions that are independent from the executive.

However, the bright side of the Megrahi case is that it shows the advantages to Scotland of devolution. It’s a classic example of a small nation having its cake and eating it. Before devolution, Scottish Ministers would never have been able to release Megrahi. They would have been overruled by PM. Similarly, an independent Scotald would never have released him for fear of Amercan reprisals.

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