Daily View 2×2: 30 August 2009

by Stephen Tall on August 30, 2009

2 Big Stories

Sunday Times: Lockerbie bomber ‘set free for oil’

Today’s Times has the big story:

The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal. Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release. The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.

The Lib Dems Ed Davey – who has been leading the campaign for full disclosure over Mr Al Megrahi’s release – is quoted by the paper:

This is the strongest evidence yet that the British government has been involved for a long time in talks over al-Megrahi in which commercial considerations have been central to their thinking.”

Brown’s surprise Afghanistan trip scuppers Cameron

Sticking with foreign news, the Mail on Sunday reports that the Prime Minister’s surprise trip to Afghamistan may not have been entirely motivated by a wish to boost the morale of British troops:

Mr Brown flew to Afghanistan yesterday to meet British troops and military leaders just 48 hours before Mr Cameron was scheduled to make an identical journey. … The Tory leader scrapped his own visit – which has been in his diary since July – to avoid an unseemly cat-and-mouse game and wasting overstretched military resources.

Unbeknown to the Tories, Mr Cameron’s plans were highlighted in No10’s weekly ‘grid’ – a confidential Whitehall spin doctors’ guide to key political events designed to help Labour win the propaganda war. The Conservative leader had no idea until a few days ago about Mr Brown’s trip and decided he had no choice but to postpone his own visit.

Last night, Downing Street rejected claims that the Prime Minister had brought forward his plans to upstage Mr Cameron.

Indeed … the very idea that Mr Brown would put tactical considerations first and foremost to get one over on his Tory opponent. Palpable piffle, as Boris would doubtless say.

2 Must-Read Blog-Posts

Hey Dave, choose me, choose me (Duncan MacDonald)

The fuss this week over Barnet Councils proposals to use the business model of a budget airline for running council services has caused quite a reaction. … The problem with outsourcing is that most Council services are not capable of being competitively tendered in a way that puts any market pressure to bear that would provide better services and /or reduce costs. In the world of budget airlines there can be competition between traditional carriers and budget carriers on a particular route. How many Council services can operate on that basis? I would contend that the answer is not many.

Great turn-out for Nick Clegg in St Albans (Sandy Walkington)

The audience was nicely mixed and the questions came fast and furious from a forest of hands – MP expenses, getting young people interested in politics, the future of the health service, drugs, Trident, parliamentary reform, restoring power to local government, Afghanistan, Europe, the euro, what makes a good MP, and many more. People were hugely impressed with his relaxed approach and his willingness to give straight answers.

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