Sunday, 30 August 2009

Where did the summer go?

That’s not a question about the weather – specifically the absence of the forecast “barbecue summer”. Rather, it’s a recognition that this summer has flown past, without too many blog entries from me. Over the next few days I’ll pick out a few highlights.

We spent a week in London in July, which was great.

One of the most memorable things that we did was to visit the Houses of Parliament. We didn’t follow the usual tourist route, but had arranged in advance with our local M.P. for a tour with a member of his staff. This had two advantages.

Firstly, we were able to access areas that would be off limits to routine tourists – thanks to her staff pass.

Secondly, and far more importantly, we were able to get a first hand insight into working in Parliament. The young woman who showed us around was enthusiastic, informative and engaging. She managed to connect with each of us (probably not too easy), and left us feeling a bit more positively disposed towards our tarnished home of government.

I wonder if I’d give a similar impression to people visiting my place of work?

Even if you can’t get the same sort of tour that we did, the Houses of Parliament are well worth the visit.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Loch Leven

That Hideous Man has reminded me of a morning that I spent with the Fish Wife around Loch Leven last year, we climbed the same hill, and took similar photos (merged in to this panorama). It is truly beautiful - and more or less on our doorstep.

There's also a nice farm shop sort of place at the northern end of the loch, for food etc.

How much we take for granted!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Difficult decisions, justice and compassion

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has decided to release Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi (the Libyan who was convicted for the Lockerbie bombing) on compassionate grounds. I don’t envy MacAskill – this was surely a difficult decision for him to make. He has been condemned for releasing Megrahi; I am sure that he would have been criticised if he had decided not to release him.

What are we to make of this situation?

Firstly, we must remember that Megrahi remains guilty of the crime. He has had two unsuccessful appeal cases heard, and he withdrew his latest appeal.

Some objectors have stated that this decision means that the victims’ families can’t have closure. While I understand that this decision must be difficult, since it brings painful memories back to the surface, I don’t see how it affects individual closure. Megrahi is still guilty, he is dying. Would keeping him in prison really help?

I find the statements from Hillary Clinton (“absolutely wrong”) and Barack Obama (“ a mistake”) unhelpful. In my view, there are no absolutes here.

It’s difficult, but I tend to agree with MacAskill when he said:

"Our justice system demands that judgement be imposed, but compassion be available.”

I’m glad that our justice system has the scope to be compassionate, and on balance I’d rather that we made ‘mistakes’ through being compassionate, than through being vengeful.