Letter from Edinburgh

Monday and the red-eye flight to Edinburgh. The computers had crashed so the long suffering Logan­air staff had to check everyone in manually. Loganair tells me that the problem was caused by the communication lines cutting out.

Maybe in this particular case it would not have helped, but it did make me wish, yet again, that BT would hurry up and get us connected to the Faroese sub-sea cable.

We considered this and other issues in the lengthy but inevitable queue. One sensible suggestion was to turn Sumburgh Airport’s internal design on its head. The longest waits nowadays are for security. That’s unlikely to get any easier as more and more draconian rules fit for Heathrow are applied to island airports.

Why not therefore have check-in by the door, with security open all the time so that passengers could then go through into a larger lounge area, with the cafe, shop for papers and the like, toilets and seats by the window. That would speed up boarding for the Loganair staff. There are downsides to this – the need for people to get some air and leave the terminal if flights are delayed and the inevitable cost of an internal layout change. But this suggestion seems worth thinking about. Must email Nigel Flaws.

Monday was recall parliament day. On the al-Megrahi release, I pay tribute to Kenny MacAskill for taking a decision. It was horribly difficult. Some people agree with it and others absolutely oppose it – and that’s just here in Shetland.

I believe that al-Megrahi should, for now at least, have been kept in prison in Scotland. He is after all a terrorist convicted of mass murder by a Scottish court.

Gaddafi is a wily old dog. He will milk this for all it’s worth but it wasn’t that long ago that the govern­ment had to send in the SAS to the Libyan Embassy in London. Nor should anyone ever forget that 270 people lost their lives over and within Lockerbie. The families of the dead deserve compassion too, and for me, that position is the better balance of compassion and justice.

I do take issue with the handling of this case. Shetland’s former MP, Jim Wallace, Scotland’s first justice minister, observed that what you would do given the enormous implications of the al-Megrahi decision is firstly make the announcement to parliament, not the media and secondly you wouldn’t spend the fortnight before the decision briefing it to the press.

These points may seem minor, but if our parliament and the conduct of government are to matter, then they count. I am very disappointed that these basic principles were ignored by our government.

The government has to accept that their decision has international repercussions and they must demonstrate what they are going to do to counter them The basis of the decision will be dissected for many a day and forgive me, but in a democracy that’s what should happen.

Tavish Scott MSP


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