Friday, 4 September 2009

Pride over Megrahi decision

THE opposition party leaders in Scotland have been finding ways to oppose for the sake of opposition the compassionate release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber.

While they persist in putting up a smoke screen, their masters in London have clinched deals in Tripoli over oil and gas contracts.

It makes you even more proud of Kenny MacAskill's due process and compassionate Scottish response to a legal situation crafted originally by the UK, USA and Libya in which a show trial and imprisonment on conviction in Scotland were agreed in return for normalisation of trade with Colonel Gaddafi.

The news that Nelson Mandela backs the Scottish Justice Secretary confirmed the faith of reasonable people in this small nation. We are backed by a world figure who brokered the trial under Scots law in the Netherlands. So Mr Megrahi's plea to die among his family is logical in Scottish terms if not in that of the vengeful United States.

I have received many communications on this issue, the vast bulk like those who recorded their views in the Ross-shire Journal poll backed the Scottish Justice Secretary. Now we need an international enquiry that can satisfy the families of the Lockerbie victims and a world seeking the truth.


HIGHER history in Scottish schools will include a compulsory section on Scottish history for the first time in 2011. The paper covers, the Wars of Independence, Reformation, Act of Union, 19th Century migration and the impact of the First World War on Scotland.

The omission of the Highland Clearances is said by some to be controversial. However (and I say this as someone who has studied and written extensively on the subject) I am not sure if the benefits of the Scottish Diaspora can ignore the downside back home or the fight back in the 1880s of the Highland Land League. Teaching about the Clearances in the context of the modernisation of Scotland can take place earlier in our schools as few students reach the Higher exams.

Picking aspects of a thousand years of rich, vibrant and colourful history is an unenviable task. There will always be important parts which cannot be covered fully, the Enlightenment and the formation of Scotland by the Picts and Scots spring to mind.

However the very fact that there is a compulsory Scottish element in the new higher is a victory. Scottish history had been discouraged and shamefully ignored by successive governments. A country that has no idea of its history has no real sense of itself. The SNP Government has started to change that and I hope that Scottish History will become a bigger part of Scotland's education, not at the expense of World or European history but as a key part of it.


THE middle of a recession isn't the best time to raise tax on fuel duty but yet again the Prime Minster and Chancellor have raised the fuel tax by 2p per litre this week.

The same Chancellor whilst holidaying in the Western Isles last year expressed his shock at the price of fuel. I wonder what he would say now? Readers in remote and rural areas of Ross-shire understand the curse of high fuel prices for they will suffer the most. This (Gordon) Brown tax is no green tax. It will hit households and businesses especially haulers in the north. The UK Government should help businesses at the moment not hit them where it hurts.

I heard that this tax increase will gather over a billion pounds. How much of it will be given to improve public transport in Scotland?

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