Sketch: Ultimate power of life and death is still beyond our Ken

IN AN eloquent address at Holyrood’s Time for Reflection, the Rev Dr Ian Wills, Senior Pastor, Church of the Nazarene, Glasgow, opened yesterday’s parliamentary session by speaking to MSPs about a “saviour” with “power beyond our ken”.

For those seasoned Lockerbie observers waiting for Kenny MacAskill to defend himself against the latest tranche of headlines generated by the atrocity, there was a familiarity about Dr Wills’s turn of phrase.

Was this “power beyond our ken” the same “higher power” that Mr MacAskill referred to when he announced his decision to release the Lockerbie bomber back in August 2009?

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It was then that Mr MacAskill said that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi faced “a sentence imposed by a higher power … it is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die.”

The inevitability of mortality ensures that Mr MacAskill’s 2009 prediction remains accurate.

But when Megrahi’s demise will come to pass remains a mystery.

Therefore, it was little surprise that the “three-months-to-live” diagnosis that led to the bomber’s compassionate release was raised by Mr MacAskill’s opponents yesterday.

David McLetchie (Conservative) pointed out that, since his release, Megrahi had enjoyed “923 days of freedom, courtesy of the SNP”.

Thankfully, MSPs were spared any more MacAskillian predictions yesterday, and the justice secretary was content to leave any religious references to Dr Wills.

Instead of God, one wondered whether Mr MacAskill might have found inspiration from a doughty supporter picketing outside the Scottish Parliament yesterday.

Wearing a Chic Murray-style bunnet, the lone figure brandished a banner saying, “Hold Firm Kenny”.

That is precisely what Mr MacAskill did.

The latest Megrahi book may have raised yet more questions about the Lockerbie saga, but 923 days of defending his position means that Mr MacAskill knows his lines backwards on this one.

He stood fast with an emphatic denial to suggestions that a political deal was behind his decision to release Megrahi.