Friday, July 16, 2010

Cameron gives corpse of respect agenda a good kicking

What does David Cameron think he's doing ordering (for presumably he must have done) the British Ambassador in Washington to call the release of Megrahi a "mistake"? It was perfectly legitimate - albeit deeply misguided - for Cameron as leader of the Conservative party to express a critical view on the quasi-judicial decision of a member of the Scottish government. But for the official representative of the United Kingdom to be trashing the proper authorities of a part of the United Kingdom who followed due process to the letter is...well, bang out of order. Indeed, it's worse than that - I'd guess the impression it's intended to convey to an American audience is that the new UK government is in some way distancing itself from a "mistake" made by its own predecessors. Can there be anything more disrespectful than fuelling the (rather popular) fiction that the Scottish government either a) does not meaningfully exist, or b) dutifully takes its cue from London on such a grown-up matter as this?

As I understand it, part of the purpose of the "respect agenda" was to demonstrate to Scots that devolution works really well and that there is no need to move beyond it. Instead, Cameron has just helpfully identified a massive deficiency in the devolved settlement that only independence can possibly remedy - namely that our supposed "representatives" in foreign capitals are not merely unable to speak directly on our behalf, but are apparently going to be specifically instructed to undermine us in certain circumstances. Can you imagine the American ambassador in London criticising, say, the decision of the governor of Texas to put a British citizen to death, even if that governor was an ideological opponent of the incumbent president? If it's beneath the dignity of the UK government to allow its ambassador to defend the Scottish administration on a decision that was wholly within its own competence, then all he should have been told to do is explain that Megrahi's release was solely for the Scottish authorities to adjudicate upon, and therefore wasn't a matter for the British government or its representatives to express a view on.


  1. Unfortunately for us the Prime Minister seems to lack maturity of judgment.

    I dare say he has been advised that he should say and do anything to keep Mr Obama on side, as Mr Obama may not be, as many previous Presidents were, naturally well disposed towards the Brits. (Whether this supposed lack of enthusiasm for the UK stems from his familial association with another of the UK's former colonial possessions, is a matter for further debate.

    Like several other things, it seems that the Respect Agenda was an electoral ploy which, having failed dismally, with only one (the same rather indifferent one) Tory MP being returned in Scotland, it has been binned, where it might or might not have landed in any case, even had the targeted 12 MPs materialised.

    In short Scots should expect nothing much from Cameron, except that he will be at least as , if not more, crawly with President Obama that Dr Brown.

  2. Agreed, Tris. I'd forgotten this, but a poster at Political Betting has pointed out that Cameron specifically fuelled the nonsense about BP and the UK government affecting MacAskill's decision in a Times article last year -

    "And the third failure of judgment is emerging. From the outset the British Government has maintained that the decision was a “devolved matter”, taken solely by the Scottish authorities on medical grounds. Indeed, Lord Mandelson said it was “offensive” to suggest otherwise...

    What those interests are remain unclear, though Mr Straw’s decision to pave the way for al-Megrahi’s release came at a time of tense negotiations between BP and Libya over a multibillion-pound oil exploration deal..."

  3. Cameron is a far worse creeping toady than Brown. His language is nothing short of nauseating as is the butterfly like way he flits from agenda to agenda spouting PR verbiage to the appropriate audience. In this case he is desperate to get a clearly anti-British President to take him seriously as a world leader and to that end I doubt there is anything that he will not subvert. In this case Scottish jurisprudence.

  4. I’ve always thought that anyone who knew the relationship between the two governments in London and Edinburgh would have had to be slightly out of their heads to imagine that there would have been any collusion whatsoever.

    I have no earthly idea what Salmond thinks or thought of Brown, but Brown made it clear, in his usual demented way, that he loathed Salmond, his party and his government to the point that he would not acknowledge its existence until he was forced to; and then he insisted on referring to it as an executive.

    I am not suggesting for a second that Kenny MacAskill would be open to some sort of state bribery from London. I don’t know the man, never met him, but surely even if he were, the quid pro quo would have been massive. It wouldn’t have been done for the benefit of British Petroleum. We could have expected a massive boost in our funding, a consequential for the English Olympics and the English Cross Rail.... Billions poured into the Scottish economy.

    But nothing appeared. I think we can reasonably assume that no deal was ever done, and that Kenny took his decision, one he knew would be scrutinized the world over, and holes picked in it from every corner of the globe, based on the information available to him and the tenets of Scots Law.