Petro Poroshenko and John Kerry, Warsaw, 2014

Petro Poroshenko’s inaugural speech as President of Ukraine was bad news for the people of Ukraine, and perhaps for the rest of us too. Of course it was upbeat. And of course he said he wanted peace. Warmongers always do. But it was the speech of a leader determined upon civil war

He offered an amnesty to those “who illegally took weapons in their hands”. But he excluded those who “have blood of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians on their hands”.  He made no mention of supporters of the Kiev regime who have blood on their hands.

And he excluded those “involved in funding terrorism”. So billionaire Petro Poroshenko wishes to jail rival oligarchs, especially Viktor Yanukovych and what he called the “clan of Yanukovych”. No surprise there.

He offered nothing likely to make Ukrainians who are hostile to the Kiev regime or suspicious of it feel happier about their future.

Continue reading “Bad news from Ukraine” »

JOINT STATEMENT BY THE KURDISH COMMUNITY OF THE UK

30 May 2014

KURDS FOR AN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND

On 18 September 2014, the Scottish people have an opportunity to determine their own future as an independent country in a free vote. The choice that they make in this independence referendum will influence the lives of future generations. Furthermore, the result will have a profound impact on the fortunes of peoples throughout the world – the Kurds included – who hold similar aspirations to take greater control of their own lives and who are seeking to determine their own futures.

At stake are not borders, national flags or emblems, but whether free people have the right to decide their own futures in a democratic state. It is for this reason that the Kurds will be watching closely the vitally important developments unfolding in Scotland over the next few months. Continue reading “Kurdish Community of the UK says Yes to an Independent Scotland” »

Nigel Farage doesn't speak for me
Well, that was a disappointment, wasn’t it? Of course I’m talking about UKIP’s acquisition of a Scottish seat in the European Parliament. A UKIP-free Scotland would have been a nice badge for us. Maybe some tactical voting could have done it.

But forcing UKIP just below the threshold they needed was never much of a badge to aim for. We should have trounced and humiliated them and stripped them of their deposits. It isn’t a terrific surprise that we failed. In view of the assistance that UKIP received from the media, the real surprise is that they didn’t walk off with a brace of Scottish seats.

The late Screaming Lord Sutch of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party could probably have secured a Strasbourg seat if the media had treated him with the seriousness they showed towards Nigel Farage. He would certainly have done a much better job than David Coburn, our new UKIP MEP, is likely to do.

UKIP is not a party of eccentrics or a protest party. It is a racist party. Some of the people who voted for UKIP might not see themselves as racist. But they must have noticed the anti-immigrant message on UKIP posters and leaflets.  They must have either agreed with the message or thought it unimportant.

Continue reading “Scotland after the Ukipalypse” »

Protest outside the US Consulate, Edinburgh, 11 Jan 2007A year ago today, President Obama launched the most recent of his initiatives to close Guantánamo. He was speaking at the National Defense University at Fort McNair, Washington DC. It was an awkward moment for a major defence policy speech.

Drone strikes had put a strain on US relations with Pakistan. For nearly 6 weeks, the US had been observing an undeclared drone ceasefire in Pakistan, apparently out of respect for the elections there. The end of the ceasefire was less than a week away. At Guantánamo, the prisoners’ hunger strike was at a peak and had received a good deal of media attention. So a careful speech was needed, combining robust defence of US policy with a convincing acknowledgement of the suffering that it created.

Barack Obama’s speech was a good one, in its way. The kind of speech that a patriotic but idealistic student might have delivered in a debate at an Ivy League university.

Maybe Obama’s speechwriters don’t spend too much time talking to his policy advisers.

Continue reading “Can Scotland Help Close Guantánamo?” »

Lockerbie disaster memorial

The 25th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing is prompting renewed  interest in who – or perhaps who else besides Abdelbaset al Megrahi – could have been responsible for the crime. Some of this may turn out to be  important. But irrespective of any leads pointing to other suspects, it’s time to recognise that Megrahi cannot reasonably be held to be guilty.

Scotland’s Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland says he welcomes the recent announcement that Libya has appointed two prosecutors to work with the Scottish and US authorities over the bombing.

They will be seeking to establish whether there are people in Libya who could be brought to trial in connection with the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988. Libyan citizen Abdelbaset al Megrahi, who died last year, is the only person to have so far been convicted for the attack.

The bombing cost the lives of all of the 259 people on board the aircraft and 11 people from the town of Lockerbie. It was, and remains, by far the deadliest act of terrorism ever to have occurred in the UK.

The problem with the ongoing Scottish investigation into the bombing  is that it is built on a legal fiction. Megrahi was convicted in 2001 by three judges sitting in a specially built court operating under Scots law at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. He should not have been found guilty on the evidence presented to the court.

Continue reading “Lockerbie – the murder of Scottish justice” »

Chinnok helicopter bringing police reinforcements, G8, Gleneagles, 2005
This article was originally published in 2006 in the book “Whose Justice? The Law and the Left” edited by Colin Fox, Gregor Gall and John Scott. A few new footnotes have been added to provide additional background and  updates. The issues raised in the article have still to be addressed. I hope they become part of the discussion surrounding Scottish independence.

Continue reading “Scottish Justice and UK Foreign Policy” »