Saturday, September 03, 2005
(one of the Points of View) in Saturday's Scotsman in reply to an ongoing correspondence:
The idea that Ireland's economic success is due to European Union bankrolling does not give our own politicians any excuse. EU benefits were not even close to the net tax gain Scotland gets under the Barnett formula, let alone that gain plus North Sea oil taxes.
In any case, EU benefits largely went to agriculture, the one area of the Irish economy that has not shown spectacular growth.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Since then the SNP have come down pretty thoroughly for precisely this classic liberal policy & had I not been opposed to their basic policy of independence I would have joined them, indeed I had a letter in the Scotsman accusing them of being the most economically competent party in the UK.
I have now rejoined the party & I think you are entitled to know why. Following an email suggesting that the Lib Dems should not entirely give up the classic liberal laissez-faire position to the SNP a senior member of the party pointed out that Nicol Stephen, in his leadership manifesto had supported tax cutting, if in a non-specific way & that I should re-present my motion.
After some consideration I decided to rejoin (a different constituency) & try again. The reasons being:
There clearly has been some movement on this & I do think I can help.
I do believe in the party system - politics should not be a purely single issue groups in which the intent is merely to form a majority out of sufficient minorities - at their best such alliances of single issue groups are very susceptible giving the treasury keys to dubious lobbies so long as all the other lobbies get their piece of flesh (to be fair parties are subject to this too but to a lesser degree).
While I am by no means a perfect fit with the Lib Dems I am much closer than to any other party & perhaps equally importantly I am temperamentally much closer to the sort of slightly anarchistic jersy & sandal wearing types the party is to a large extent made up of. At election counts the Tories & Labour turn up in dark blue suits & the rest don't - I am a don't.
Politically I am definitely a believer in classic liberalism, which the party was founded on - ie free trade, individual enterprise, the rights of the individual rather than the state, generally keeping the state inoffensive by pruning, the right of the individual to live as they please & the rights of small nations & the rule of law both localy & internationaly. Beyond this I also believe in encouraging scientific progress including space travel & all that stuff (which was not a concern when the Liberals were founded) & a belief that our institutions should change as technology grows. Economically I could be a Tory but in terms of believing in progress & of social values I could not.
Unfortunately I rejoined to late for my Enterprise motion to go in for this Autumn conference. I have put in an amendment to a motion on prisons which I support but think could be tightened up & I have opinions on 2 other motions. For the main conference in the Spring I will re-present the Enterprise motion (for the 6th time) & we will see what happens.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
A FORMER Scottish police chief has given lawyers a signed statement claiming that key evidence in the Lockerbie bombing trial was fabricated.
The retired officer - of assistant chief constable rank or higher - has testified that the CIA planted the tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan for the 1989 mass murder of 270 people.
The police chief, whose identity has not yet been revealed, gave the statement to lawyers representing Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, currently serving a life sentence in Greenock Prison.
..... The claims pose a potentially devastating threat to the reputation of the entire Scottish legal system.
The officer, who was a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland, is supporting earlier claims by a former CIA agent that his bosses "wrote the script" to incriminate Libya.
Last night, George Esson, who was Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway when Megrahi was indicted for mass murder, confirmed he was aware of the development.
.......An insider told Scotland on Sunday that the retired officer approached them after Megrahi's appeal - before a bench of five Scottish judges - was dismissed in 2002.
The insider said: "He said he believed he had crucial information. A meeting was set up and he gave a statement that supported the long-standing rumours that the key piece of evidence, a fragment of circuit board from a timing device that implicated Libya, had been planted by US agents.
"Asked why he had not come forward before, he admitted he'd been wary of breaking ranks, afraid of being vilified.
"He also said that at the time he became aware of the matter, no one really believed there would ever be a trial. When it did come about, he believed both accused would be acquitted. When Megrahi was convicted, he told himself he'd be cleared at appeal."
The source added: "When that also failed, he explained he felt he had to come forward.
"He has confirmed that parts of the case were fabricated and that evidence was planted. At first he requested anonymity, but has backed down and will be identified if and when the case returns to the appeal court."
The vital evidence that linked the bombing of Pan Am 103 to Megrahi was a tiny fragment of circuit board which investigators found in a wooded area many miles from Lockerbie months after the atrocity.
The fragment was later identified by the FBI's Thomas Thurman as being part of a sophisticated timer device used to detonate explosives, and manufactured by the Swiss firm Mebo, which supplied it only to Libya and the East German Stasi.
At one time, Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, was such a regular visitor to Mebo that he had his own office in the firm's headquarters.
The fragment of circuit board therefore enabled Libya - and Megrahi - to be placed at the heart of the investigation. However, Thurman was later unmasked as a fraud who had given false evidence in American murder trials, and it emerged that he had little in the way of scientific qualifications.
Then, in 2003, a retired CIA officer gave a statement to Megrahi's lawyers in which he alleged evidence had been planted.
The decision of a former Scottish police chief to back this claim could add enormous weight to what has previously been dismissed as a wild conspiracy theory
Ok this is just a part of a story since the officer hasn't been named, nonetheless it seems credible. The fact that it a confirmation of a previous accusation (which I certainly hadn't seen reported) makes it extremely credible.
The Lockerbie trial had always seemed politically convenient since the initial evidence had always pointed to Syria, who became our peaceloving ally when they joined us in Iraq 1. The fact that the last government witness said that it was well known in intelligence circles that these people were innocent should also have persuaded the Scottish judiciary that reasonable doubt existed.
For one judge to be found openly corrupt (Lord Bonomy's participation in the Milosevic farce proves him to be so) could be a misforune however almost every Scots judge participated, at some level, in the Lockerbie trial & this looks like something much worse than carelessness.
If this statement gets signed the position of all those judges is untenable. It must, at the very least, be certain that there is a reasonable doubt. Indeed it makes it a strong probability that al Megrahi is innocent.
Possibly the day is fast approaching when it will be possible to build a computer programme which can do a judge's job.
In any case the judicial system has a long tradition of clear judicial corruption, not just in this case & the Yugoslav "trials" but in such things as the ITN/LM trial where "this (the truth) doesn't matter", the Profumo trial, where John Ward was judicially murdered & the Lord Denning's initial enquiry into the Derry killings.
We need a legal system which can be seen as not corrupt.