We finally have a Scottish poll on the Megrahi release. The Mail is reporting a new YouGov poll, which shows 43% of Scots thought that releasing Abdelbasset al-Megrahi was the right decision, with 51% saying it was wrong.

Voting intention questions were asked, but so far I can only find the Holyrood constituency figures, which are CON 16%(+2), LAB 31%(+5), LDEM 16%(+2), SNP 33%(-6). Changes are from the last YouGov poll I can find in Scotland, which was conducted back in April June.

UPDATE: There was one in June too, so changes have been updated.

UPDATE2: Full tables are now available from YouGov here.

Regional voting intention figures are CON 17%, LAB 28%, LDEM 15%, SNP 27%. Westminster voting intention figures are CON 19%, LAB 33%, LDEM 16%, SNP 25%.

Other questions that specifically asked about al-Megrahi showed 69% of people thinking that the decision had diminished Scotland’s international reputation.

Asked about the future of Kenny MacAskill, 32% of people said he should resign over his decision, 20% said they disagreed with his decision, but that he should not resign.

On other questions, asked how they would vote in a referendum on Scottish Independence using the wording that has been proposed by the SNP, 28% would vote Yes, 57% No.

53 Responses to “YouGov poll on al-Megrahi”

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  1. Interesting-The Mail also says that the Poll shows :-

    And 70 per cent believe their reputation abroad has

    Nearly a third of Scots want Justice Secretary Kenny
    MacAskill, who freed Megrahi, to resign.

    only 28 per cent back independence, down eight points in a year.

  2. Correct figures are:

    … with changes on the June survey by the pollster: SNP 33 (-6): LAB 31 (+5): CON 16 (+2): LD 16 (+2).

  3. Whatever you think about the release,the point is the SNP may have done what they did for moral reasons,from a political point of view it was one huge risk the SNP did not have to take & they come to very much regret it.

  4. June YouGov/Sunday Times Scotland link:


    Note: all other 2009 survey links (both YouGov + Taylor Nelson Sofres) can be found here:


  5. That should have read they may come to very much regret it.

  6. Whether you agree with the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber or not there can be no doubt about the affect it has had on Scotland’s reputation and standing.
    As for the implications for the polls -which after all is the issue so far as this site is concerned-only time will tell but I suspect that the SNP will be the loser come the General Election. However by the time we come to the next Holyrood election-for which the SNP are still surely the favourites- it will probably have played out in favour of more mundane bread and butter issues.

    In terms of individual seats the controversy may result in the shift of some SNP votes in Dumfries to the Tories thus enhancing the prospect of Labour losing that constituency at Westminster. And although Peter Cairns will never admit it a Tory win in Perth is more likely given that a large part of the SNP vote comprises people who think of themselves as being on the centre right and more -with exceptions of course-inclined to oppose the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

  7. Nick – I’m curious as to why SNP voters would go to the Tories. Surely, if these are floating SNP voters, they probably former Labour supporters and logically (if they do switch) they’ll go back to Labour.

    I actually don’t think taht this will really play much in D&G or even DCT (which contains Lockerbie). I think that the people of that region just want to get on with their lives, but I do agree it is a big issue at the moment elsewhere in Scotland.

  8. Tam,

    Not sure which part of Scotland you are from, but it is historically very much the case that SNP support in Tayside and Grampians (and possibly Highlands and Borders too) has been drawn mainly from conservative (big or small C) leaning voters, in contrast to the (more recent) converts from Labour in the Central Belt. It is not for nothing that the SNP earned the epithet “Tartan Tories” in the 1980s.

    One of the enigmas of the SNP is its very different appeal in different parts of Scotland (bit like the LDs with whom they could become interchangeable in places such as Argyll / Gordon – and maybe even the Borders). While the SNP clearly has many members who see themselves as being on the centre-left, Salmond himself is more from the centre-right (as one might expect given his background and the fact that he has only ever represented rural Grampian consituencies).

    Even if “soft” SNP support does not switch direct to Tories as you suggest, it is still the case that any weakening in SNP support in places like Perth or Angus makes these seats vulnerable to a Tory gain.

  9. Although there is no doubt that it has had an impact on support for the SNP it’s anything but a disaster as, if this is accurate, we are still ahead of Labour even after taking, what most view as, the most difficult and controversial decision since devolution.

    Equally I have to again raise this issue of damage to Scotland’s reputation in the world.

    We all know the US reaction and that of the opposition but that isn’t the world.

    I did a bit of trawling and from the little I could find what was reported most beyond the UK was the US reaction to the release not the local reaction in the country that noted how the US had reacted.

    At this stage we really don’t know if taking a different stance on compassionate release to the US has hurt us anywhere but the US.

    I was talking to a friend this week who’s son works in Houston in the oil Industry and her sons view was ” I’ll get criticised by the Texans, but if the chance of a big contract comes up in Libya i know who they’ll send”.

    I am interested in the tables when they come out but I suspect that if the bulk of those who condemn this are Tories or Labour supporters then the electoral impact may well not be that great. Given that I live in a Libdem seat the breakdown for their supporters will be interesting.

    In the longer term and ,although it might be a bit morbid, particularly once megrahi dies, I think the fact that the decision was a moral one and not a political one will actually work out to the SNP’s advantage.

    While people have criticised the SNP for being naive or the damage to relations with the US I suspect that Scots will actually come round to supporting that as it fits in with how people like to see themselves.

    Politics is as much about heart as head and if asked i think most people like to think that they would do the right thing and not behind the scenes deals.

    If in politics you find yourself defending the moral high ground against those who prefer expediency that’s not a bad place to be.

    A lot of what has dominated this debate about trade and deals in the desert fits in well with corruption scandals about arms deals with the Saudi’s, rendition flights or MP’s allowances and distancing yourself from all that is pretty smart politics as far as i am concerned.


  10. As an Aside i wonder who the Scottish Government will send to Teddy Kennedy’s funeral. Alex or Kenny?


  11. What would help is if the chap himself did the decent thing and expired.

    The US has never been known for treating “felons” with compassion.

    No great hoo-ha over the Biggs release, but there would be if he eventually gets a telegram from HM!

    I’m surprised (no I’m not really) that Brown couldn’t bring himself to talk a little in general terms about grounds for compassionate release. He could have done so without over-stepping any mark.

  12. Paul – You are entirely correct about the SNp drawing its support (historically) from the Conservatives in the Tayside/Highlands, but Dumfries & Galloway is literally the other end of the country!

    In D&G, where its a straight Labour-Tory scrap, the rise in SNP vote would be down to a drift from Labour to SNP. Therefore my point was why would these voters go to the Tories? Particularly when there is an assumption that it is traditional working class voters who are more angry about the decision.

  13. @ Peter – “At this stage we really don’t know if taking a different stance on compassionate release to the US has hurt us anywhere but the US.”

    Very true. I’m sure Scotland is now hugely popular with a whole raft of Arab and North African dictatorships. Well done, you.

  14. I voted in that Yougov poll!

  15. Paul H-J – SNP support in Tayside/the North East has not come mainly at the expense of the Conservatives. Seats were won from the Tories, certainly, but by and large the Tory vote held firm and did not transfer to the SNP.

    In these areas, there is a strong, residual SNP base due to the party’s organisational strength and membership there over many decades. Outside the core party support for the SNP and Conservatives, anti-Tory votes tend to to to the SNP, whereas anti-SNP votes go to the Tories, with Labour and the LDs getting squeezed.

    The actual transfer from Tory to SNP down the years has been smaller than many would have you believe.

  16. As this a polling comments site (hope it doesn’t upset anyone). I will make a prediction of the next poll

    Con 44
    Lab 24
    Lib 18

  17. Peter,

    why do you keep trying to insist that the SNP have the moral high ground on this issue? The reality is quite the reverse. What Kenny was effectively saying was that murdering 270 people actually isn’t so bad, and if you do that you still have a right to go and die with your family.

    You may choose to believe that the decision was taken for moral rather than political reasons (more fool you), but if that is the case it doesn’t say much for Kenny’s moral centre. It was one of the most base, immoral decisions any politician has made in a long time.

  18. Wayne,

    That is more or less what I was thinking this morning. There should be a YouGov poll out soon as I completed one at the weekend. I presumed it was the monthly Telegraph which I expected to see today, but there is nothing on their web-site. Maybe it showed that UKIP have fallen back to 2% so they have quietly shelved it.

  19. Neil,

    And just what political reason would we have to release him, given that weknew the US and probably public opinion would oppose it.


  20. Doesn’t it really go like this–

    1) The Scottish govt. took a decision based on either compassion or excessive compassion. I’d much rather government mistakes were based on compassion than the reverse.

    2) The Americans didn’t like the idea (their justice system not being known for compassion unless you are rich) and so tried to bully Scotland in a way worthy of George Bush (how would they like it if we tried to influence their courts?)

    3 ) Libya acted stupidly.

    I consider this whole issue will be of no importance- and totally forgotten once we get out of the silly summer news time. Especially given that many still feel the whole story has not been told- and that includes further influences about the release…

  21. Peter,

    I’m a Scot living in Italy.

    Here, the story was reasonably big for a day, maybe two.

    There hasn’t been much of a response as far as I can see. But anyone I’ve talked to seems to favour the decision of the release. Mostly, however, they were impressed to see the Scottish Government acting of its own accord and refusing to bend to America’s will.

    Outside of the US, and indeed UK, it might well be the case that Scotland’s reputation has been enhanced, not so much for the decision on Megrahi but more for standing up to the US.

    This certainly seems to be the case over here. It’s not that people are anti-American or anything. Far from it. I think they were simply surprised to see the government of a small country refuse to bow to the pressure of the US. Everyone loves an underdog, after all.

    I think the idea that Scotland’s reputation is damaged on a global scale simply isn’t the case, that it only applies to the US. In real terms, I think this issue is already forgotten in all but the countries directly involved.

    Hope this helps.

  22. That’s quite a narrowing in the gap between the SNP and Labour. (On the other hand the June constituency poll had the biggest ever gap.)

    Do we know in which order questions were asked, i.e. voting intention first and then the Megrahi questions or the other way round?

  23. So the SNP’s main political goal is to gain independence from Britain and the Tories are the most pro unionist party. So it seems odd that voters would switch between the two if they actually believe in what each of the Parties. It good to see that the voters really know and understand what they are voting for.

  24. Gah, Holyrood constituency voting intentions are relatively meaningless without the list vote.

  25. More details::

    “… according to a YouGov poll for the Daily Mail.

    The poll of 1078 Scottish adults between the 24th and 26th August shows that

    *More people support Alex Salmond as the best Scottish First Minister than support three opposition party leaders – combined!

    *Support for Alex Salmond as First Minister was 32%, nearly 3 times higher than that for Ian Gray and Annabel Goldie and over 5 times higher than Tavish Scott at 6%.

    *A majority of Liberal Democrats – 57% – think releasing Abdelbasset al-Megrahi was the right decision, as do well over a third of Labour voters (39%).

    *Two thirds of those questioned support Kenny MacAskill remaining as Justice Minister regardless of their view of the decision. “

  26. Paul H-J

    “Maybe it showed that UKIP have fallen back to 2% so they have quietly shelved it”.

    LOL … you may be right !

  27. Jack,

    1: Firstly, why did they have to make the decision at this time, public, or even at all ? (Ans: mainly due to pressure from London & Tripoli so as to avoid a retrial – whatever any of them say). Secondly, regardless of the merits of the decision, the manner of the release and attendant publicity was clearly mishandled. The response of the various parties involved could (should) have been foreseen and the ground prepared accordingly.
    Verdict: SNP have been guilty of naivety in response to international intrigue.

    2. That the US public might not warm to the release of a convicted terrorist should come as no surprise to anyone. That they should object to the release of a man they helped put behind bars as part of their global war on terror and as a pawn in a political rapprocement with Libya should have been evident from the start, and MacAskill should have prepared for this (cf above).

    At the risk of appearing anti-American, they are accustomed to having their wishes obeyed by foreigners and are generally blind to their own double-standards. The reaction would have been the same whomever was the President – even Kennedy. If one really believed that this was a genuine attempt by MacAskill to stand up to the US, then the SNP might have got some kudos out of it. But that does not appear to be borne out by either the facts or the SNP reaction to the US fury.

    Verdict: Should have been handled better by MacAskill. Cheap jibe at Bush – Scots (and others) need to learn to understand America properly.

    3. In what way has Libya acted stupidly ? They got their man released, had a big party, stuck two fingers up to the Yanks, and destabilised the UK government. Pretty good result for a former pariah.

    4. You have omitted to comment on the curious story of the dog that did not bark. When it comes to (not)accepting the responsibility of one’s office Pontius Pilate has a serious rival in our PM.

    Finally, if (rather than when) more comes out about what really happened – whether in 1988, at the show trial, in discussions between Blair / Brown and the Libyans, behind the scenes between London and Edinburgh, or in that curious meeting at Greenock – then the whole affair could explode again – leaving egg on the faces of both MacAskill and Brown. Untill then, the conspiracy theorists will pick at this like a running sore. It may drop out of the headlines, but it will not disappear altogether.

  28. @ Paul H-J – “That the US public might not warm to the release of a convicted terrorist should come as no surprise to anyone.”

    For heavens sake, US objections weren’t just because he is “a convicted terrorist”. He is, specifically, a convicted terrorist who killed 270 people – most of them Americans. What did you expect the US to do? Cheer?

  29. Anthony,

    The detailed tables for Westminster / Holyrood (constituency and list) are available – on the YouGov web-site !

    Westmister Intentions are shown as:
    Lab – 33%
    SNP – 25%
    Con – 19%
    LD – 16%
    Others – 6%

    Not sure how those compare with previous polls.

    Plus: (quasi) Poll Alert.

    The BBC is carrying a ComRes poll on education in conjunction with a programme later tonight. No voting intention figures, but some of the data in the detailed tables makes for interesting reading – unlike the BBC report itself which is up to their customary (sloppy) standards.

    Any idea what has happened to the Telegraph monthly YouGov poll ?

  30. Rock and a hard place time for the SNP. Personally, I think they took the correct decision. What’s the point of locking up a man till he dies in these circumstances? Oddly, America’s avowedly Christian based values seem to struggle with concepts such as forgiveness and compassion. The SNP fall in the polls is a reaction to the reaction I feel, rather than voters making a choice on the decision – for the first 48hrs I don’t think this was a huge story.
    This is a wider lesson in the perils of incumbancy – events are unavoidable, and often some people will get upset, whatever you do. I think the SNP will worry about the loss of the invincible aura they have carried since gaining power. Once the dam is breached things do have a habit of unravelling.
    Cameron needs to learn lessons from this also – he has been riding the wave of ‘anything but Labour’ but this doesn’t help you when difficult decisions come along. The lesson from the Blair/Brown years is that tough time will always come along – when Labour turned to it’s core support it found it wasn’t there, as they had governed for so long without any philosophical sense of what they were trying to achieve. This is what Cameron is leading the Tories towards – when the wheels fall off, they’ll fall off pretty quickly. It’s the flip side of politics without ideology – it makes it much easier for voters to walk away and end the affair.

  31. @Paul HJ – your previous post makes a lot of sense, particularly the questions over how and why the release happened. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was leakage about a wider UK role and the obvious bartering that went on. The retrial issue was potentially very embarrasing for western justice and there is little doubt many in UK/US governments are relieved they won’t have to face this.

  32. James Ludlow,

    Actually, I think the US are being even more hypocritical than usual on this one. The last thing the CIA would have wanted was a retrial, and a deal whereby Megrahi dropped his appeal in return for a release, while not as ideal as the preferred prisoner transfer Blair went to such lengths to make possible, probably suits them nicely.

    I have seen reports which suggets that Megrahi is not as close to death’s door as was claimed. This casts some doubt on the timing – more to do with stopping the appeal than compassion. No doubt the best palliative care possible will be lavished on him in Libya such that he is available for Qaddafi to parade around Christmas / New Year should it suit him. Thereafter he will be bundled off into the desert, and if not really dying of cancer, will meet with an accident.

    I reckon that Megrahi feels he was stitched up by his own government. When diagnosed with cancer, he no doubt felt he had nothing left to lose by spilling the beans – something he could not do while there was a possibility of transfer to a “prison” in Libya. That would not suit any of Tripoli, London or Washington (Langley), hence the urgent need to bundle him out of Scotland.

    Note – I am not suggesting that Megrahi was “innocent” – merely that any appeal would have caused questions to be asked which the various authorities involved would prefer remain unanswered, or better still, not put.

    Hence I find Brown’s silence on the matter all the more reprehensible. But then, it suits him to claim that the decision was sole responsiblity of the devolved SNP administration and absolutely nothing to do with him.

  33. Alec,

    Our posts above crossed. As you will deduce – we are on the same wave-length here.

  34. Here’s the regional numbers from that chart

    Labour: 28
    SNP: 27
    Conservative: 17
    Lib Dem: 15
    Green: 6
    Scottish Socialist Party: 3
    Solidarity: 1
    Other: 3

    Full tables at http://tr.im/xgDl

  35. I think that this will be a short term blip for the SNP.

    The poll was carried out very close to the decision that was taken.

    The Labour Party in the UK hasn`t seen its support move in any way.

    I recekon by November that the SNP will be 6-7% ahead in Holyrood Voting intentions and 1-2% ahead in Westminster intentions

  36. @ALEC

    “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was leakage ”

    Indeed so-like The Times report on MacAskill’s assertion in Parliament that release to a secure home in Scotland had been rejected on the advice of senior officers who regarded the security implications as “severe”.

    The Times disclosed yesterday that Strathclyde Police had not been asked by Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Secretary, whether it could handle the security implications of transferring Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi from prison to a secure residence in Scotland.

    The force, said that while it had been asked how many officers would be required, it had not been asked whether it could provide them. “If a decision had been made to release Mr al-Megrahi in Scotland, we would have provided whatever security was required” they said to The Times.

    The paper also gives details of an apparent interference in Strathclyde Police statements to it, by Alex Salmond’s office.

    Whilst this sort of revelation will continue to nibble away at the veracity of SNP’s claim to moral high ground, Gaddafi will continue to embarrass both Salmond & Brown & emphasise their staggering naivety on the global stage.

    I know nothing of Scottish Politics , but would not be surprised to see continued slippage in support for an SNP administered Independence as a result of this fiasco.

    Brown has merely hunkered deeper into the pit he has made for himself, and the sides just keep crumbling down on him.

  37. paul,
    salmon is left wing.he was a left wing economist with rbs.this is the snp’s problem.he was charismatic but could not lift scotland out of big government or dependency.
    he wanted to increase income tax by 1p.

    when they were doing well,if they had come out and said they wanted a 3p drop in income tax,what would the tories have done? they would have to had agreed.
    they could have created havock in london.putting taxes up would just have made people go down south.
    looking back this whole affair will be seen as the snp’s poll tax.

  38. Perhaps that was why Labour delayed the glasgow by election, knowing that potential embarrasing news was coming up from SNP.

  39. @ Paul H-J – “Actually, I think the US are being even more hypocritical than usual on this one. The last thing the CIA would have wanted was a retrial,”

    I’m not aware that a retrial was even on the cards. Megrahi had an appeal ongoing, obviously – his second, having lost his first (something that some reports mysteriously omit to mention).

    There’s seems little doubt that Megrahi was guilty as charged. Of course, he didn’t act alone and it would be infinitely preferably if the whole filthy, murderous conspiracy was exposed and all its agents prosecuted. But there was never any chance of that, given Gadaffy’s own culpability. But just because Megrahi’s co-conspirators weren’t caught doesn’t exonerate him.

    The man killed 270 people. It defies belief that there are people who think he should have been released after serving less time than many non-violent criminals serve.

  40. Conservative 19% at westminster voting intention.

    In all likelihood it is prob more around 20-21%

    Shy tory factor- for example; in the ComRes Scottish samples from March and August this year (of UK wide polls) only 11/12% of voters admitted to previously voting tory, whereas 15-16% of them actually did in 2005. This is the case every time Scottish people are asked who they voted for.
    This suggests that there is a shy tory factor worth a couple of % points.

    So the SNP on 25% ought to worry about the Scottish Conservatives behind them, as well as worry about the Labour party ahead of them.

  41. Are the figures given in Stuart Dickson’s post acccurate from this poll?

    That is does Salmond have more support as First Minister that the other three Party leaders combined and do most people, whether they agree with him or not, support Macaskill continuing in post?

    If so it raises two questions. First why did Anthony not mention either of these findings in his summary?

    Second it provided indications that the SNP is suffering a short term blip – the re-action to the re-action – from the press. They have very substantial underlying strength.

    On balance Macaskill made the right call. Where would Scotland have stood if, in a few months, Megrahi had died in Greenock prison with his appeal still unresolved?

    A tough call certainly but the right one.

  42. Frazer Nelson, the political editor of the Spectator has a theory that the release was done purely to provoke a row with London and further the SNP’s aims. Brown was silent because being Scottish Labour he had learned when not to engage the SNP. Has this any validity?

  43. Why do politicians do anything? Why isDavid Cameron messing about with ‘gay-friendly ‘logos.?

  44. Looking at all the cross breaks in the figures the gender, age and class figures are interesting.

    Firstly as i expected on the Megrahi issue women are slightly more sympathetic than men although it’s probably down to more than being undecided.

    What surprised me was the age breakdown as I suspected the young to be more supporting than the old (shows what I know). Equally the ABC1s are more supportive than the C2DEs.

    The odd thing that this throws up is that the more supportive groups aren’t necessarily also the most supportive of the SNP, particularly the ABC1s.

    This does throw up at least the possibility that the Megrahi decision isn’t actually the factor that is driving the changes in voting patterns. People have definite and strong opinions about the issue of compassionate release but it might not have altered their voting intentions.

    Something has changed but I am not sure it is the Libyan affair is the only factor. Problem is I can’t think of anything else over the summer that has had the potential to cause the change.

    Curiouser and Curiouser.


  45. In my opinion this is political stupidity from the SNP. Their reasons for appearing to act independently are understandable for their long term strategy but this was absolutely the wrong issue to try flaunting it.

    They have shot themselves in the foot with a high risk strategy that has backfired.

    And I think the initial polling reflects that.

  46. There are a few comments about the presumed political ends for which Megrahi was released.

    I prefer the principle: “Never presume malice when stupidity will suffice.”

    It’s quite possible that Justice Minister for the Scottish Executive, quite simply, made a decision that many think to be appalling, but others agree with.

    @ Paul H-J

    Are you sure that Salmond is centre-right? He was a leading member of the left-wing 79 group, so entryist and left-wing that they were expelled in ’82.

  47. Before he became Justice secretary I had extensive correspondence with Mr MacAskill on philosophical matters which you might describe as about distinctively Scottish Values.

    From this, and from his statements in the parliament before the election I came to the conclusion that he was a person of exceptional integrity, reason, principle and humanity. I am in no doubt that political considerations had no part in his judgement and that his reasons were exactly as he says.

    The posters above who look for more complex explanations are basing them on the customs and practice of the Westminster parliament and are unaware of the context in which this decision would be judged by the Scottish Parliaments Procedures committee when they consider how well the parliament has lived up to its Founding Principles.

    At the risk of being moderated for repetition I’ll say once again that Donald Dewar told me over half a century ago that his vision of a Home Rule parliament was that it would have principles, and that it would have a means of ensuring that it adhered to them.

    The Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament has in eleven years had five leaders, each worse than the last one. They’ve come a long way.

    Had Mr MacAskill chosen to play party games in the Westminster manner as his opponents have done, he could have focused on the lack of evidence to support the American families contention that assurances had been given by the UK government and on that basis he could have agreed to a prisoner transfer. That would avoid altogether the need to decide the question of compassionate release. He could also have made much more of the fact that the UK government refused to agree to the Scottish request to exclude the Scottish jurisdiction from the prisoner transfer agreement.

    This would have directed American criticism towards the UK government. He did not do that and accepted full personal responsibility for a difficult decision.

    I am saddened by the increasing adoption of Westminster bad habits which I attribute to the loss of Westminster escapees over the first two parliaments notably the loss of Donald Dewar and Jim Wallace and I am also surprised at Ms Goldie and the weak pretext which she used to criticise the decision.

    Call me a racist if you like, but I am not surprised that the Libyans do not have the same standards of decorum and manners of an English country prelate c1930 and I thought their welcome rather restrained in the circumstances.

    Perhaps Scottish backpackers should now follow the example of the Canadians and Irish. I think the former are actually officialy advised to sew the national flag on their baggage. The ones I’ve met all seem to do it.


    I put good money on the Conservatives staying well below 20% of the popular vote in Scotland at any election in the next 10 years. I do not believe there is a ‘shy factor’, unless you happen to live in a housing scheme in Glasgow.

    Wait untill Cameron comes in, the Tories are hugely fragmented, and the European issue will bite them, as it has done for decades. Cameron knows this.

    David P,

    Asking Frazer Nelson, who is more or less a pratt and a tory, about Scottish politics is like asking your goldfish to make you breakfast. It will make something, but it will not be breakfast.

  49. John

    I have no doubt that MacAskill acted with integrity on the basis of principle, humanity and the facts as they were presented to him, and with no desire to secure petty party political advantage. His stance since confirms his willingness to accept responsiblity for his actions.

    However, integrity should not be confused with wisdom. All of the above is by no means inconsistent with him having acted naively and in ignorance of the duplicity of third parties which put in front of him the dilemma he faced. It is also fairly clear that he neither foresaw nor prepared for the reaction to the release.

    Personally I don’t subscribe to the notion that the SNP used this as a means to provoke a row with London. Were that true, it has singularly back-fired. But if so, why has Edinburgh not paraded the evidence of pressure etc ? The only evidence we have in support of this thesis is that while MacAskill has tried to be open, London is resisting release of information. But to my mind, that suggests that it is London which has been scheming, not Edinburgh. That is further borne out by the UK Government’s refrain that this was entirely a devolved matter – as if ! Just ask yourself what any responsible government would say / do if a local authority were in danger of provoking an international incident.

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