The new First Minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has sacked the Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, from her Cabinet. The move doesn’t surprise much of the judiciary and other groups who he managed to upset in his tenure since May 2007. Indeed, there has been widespread criticism for his handling of the justice brief, and it’s felt that his legacy has left many people without any confidence whatsoever in the Scottish justice system.
Mr. MacAskill is, of course, the driving force behind the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill which he was pressing on through Holyrood (the Scottish parliament) despite overwhelming evidence being submitted in the public consultation that licensing the estimated half-million airguns in circulation north of the border was not only unnecessary, but that it would be unworkable and have a negative impact on the Scottish economy.
Airgun Shooter has already reported on the serious concerns of The Law Society of Scotland, The Scottish Police Federation and BASC Scotland (read the report here) – but MacAskill remained blinkered and was prepared to press on with passing the Bill on what can only be described as emotive grounds.
This undemocratic approach of his certainly suggested the writing was on the wall as far as airgun licensing was concerned; it was a done deal, to be implemented perhaps by 2016.
However, in a Nicola Sturgeon’s statement on how her newly formed Cabinet team would be taking forward the government’s priorities for Scotland, she was quoted as saying: “The aims of my Government are clear: to create a nation that is both socially democratic and socially just…”
These are, indeed, reassuring words for airgunners to hear. Perhaps – after the dark days under MacAskill – Holyrood will now be more open to hearing the full facts put forward as arguments against the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill. Of course, there’s no guarantee – but if the new Scottish Cabinet is to be seen as democratic, they’ll have a very tough time indeed in pursuing the emotive efforts of their former justice secretary.
Especially given that the Scottish National Party (SNP) is already washing its hands of MacAskill’s legacy very publically. According to the Scottish Express newspaper, even before the official sacking, a party spokesman went on record to say (of MacAskill): “…he should face the sack for incompetence…” citing numerous cock-ups during his tenure.
Hear, hear! At least with MacAskill out of Holyrood, airgunners have a much better chance of having their case heard for not licensing airguns in Scotland – and a final decision is now far more likely to be made by way of a fair, democratic process.