John Lamont MSP discusses the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi
If you killed someone, you would expect to spend more than two weeks in jail. Yet Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi, guilty of killing 259 people on board Pan Am Flight 103 as well as 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, served little more than a fortnight for each person he murdered. By some distance he is Britain's worst mass murderer and the decision to release him on compassionate grounds, made by the SNP government last year, was met with a storm of protest across Scotland.
At a UK and international level, I understand the wider picture is different. BP has been dragged into the row, primarily because of American anger over the oil spill, and a host of conspiracy theories fly about.
Well, in Scotland the reality is somewhat murky as well. The SNP government spent a year proudly telling everyone it was their decision alone, only in recent days to point the finger at Tony Blair's ‘deal in the desert' and state that Scottish law left them no choice (not true). A renegade SNP MSP has said that a "whistleblower" informed her Megrahi was told he would not be released on compassionate grounds unless he dropped his appeal. All very confusing. SNP ministers can clear up a huge amount of this confusion by publishing all the medical evidence used to release Megrahi. But they are refusing to do this. Why?
We have been left in a situation where David Cameron's first visit to the USA as prime minister was completely overshadowed by the whole sorry affair, despite the fact that his UK government, and for that matter the last UK government as well, had nothing to do with it. Understandably it is sometimes difficult for American politicians to completely grasp the nature of the UK's constitutional make-up, which left David Cameron to clean up the diplomatic mess left by the SNP.
Not exactly our finest hour. Whatever you think of the events surrounding this chaos, wherever your sympathies lie, please don't ever think that the SNP government speaks for ordinary decent Scots, on this or any other issue.
John Lamont is justice spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives and MSP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire
This article was first published in Total Politics magazine