Gerald Warner in the Telegraph 25 August. 'It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine," observed P G Wodehouse. Today, however, the situation has been dramatically reversed. For the first time in history the Scots, whose cultivation of grievance has sustained them for centuries, are disturbed to find themselves on the receiving end of embittered reproaches from across the world. The release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, by Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has outraged world opinion. MacAskill's invoking of "humanity", modestly described by him as "a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people" (but not, presumably, of other people â least of all the English), grated on one's nerves. Scottish churches may be sparsely attended nowadays, but the Calvinist self-righteousness of John Knox persists. Scotland is the only part of the UK, probably of Europe, where someone can solemnly intone that the Scots are "more moral" and be greeted not with belly-laughs but with head-nodding agreement. From the start of the devolution agitation in the 1980s such moral superiority was as much an axiom of Scottish politics as Margaret Thatcher's responsibility for the Highland Clearances. Suddenly, this mindset is challenged. This is a bad time to be Scottish. Unease is stirring on the newly unfashionable side of Hadrian's Wall and it is not solely due to l'affaire Megrahi. Scotland's historical achievements are also beginning to look less impressive. It is our proud claim to have invented European banking, but the Bank of Scotland and RBS are no longer quite as iconic as they were; or, rather, they are even more so, but not for reasons on which we care to dwell. Still there is the Scottish contribution to statecraft. In recent years, Scotland has furnished the UK with much of its governing elite: Robin Cook, Alistair Darling (the best Chancellor of the Exchequer we have never had), Douglas Alexander â even Tony Blair was born in Glasgow. Unfortunately, Scots are embarrassedly aware that they also supplied Gordon Brown, who is notable as the only person on earth, apart from a few Trappist monks, who has voiced no opinion on Megrahi's release. Macavity, like a prudent Jock, has vanished from public sight and sound. Ever since the inestimable gift of devolution was conferred on Scotland by Mr Blair there has been a nervous apprehension among the educated or just plain sensible classes north of the Border that the "wee pretendy parliament", as Billy Connolly termed it, would one day drop us in the deepest doo-doo. Those fears have been realised. At its first meeting, the members of the parliament (MSPs) awarded themselves medals. This was done on the same precautionary principle that motivates Scots to conduct lavish celebrations at the start of the football World Cup tournament, in the realistic anticipation that there will not be a lot to celebrate at its conclusion. No forum in the world brings more passion to the debate on dog-fouling or the hazards of children's trampolines than the Wee Scotch Senate. Its finest hour came when, having reached the committee stage of a Bill to ban fur-farming in Scotland, MSPs were informed that there were no fur farms in Scotland. Defiantly, our legislators persevered and completed the expensive processing of the statute; some of us felt they should have included bull-fighting among its provisions. The chief consequence of setting up the Holyrood parliament has been that 129 Scottish villages are missing their idiots. When Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, telephoned MacAskill to make representations against the release of Megrahi, the parliament was discussing the problems of high hedges. Unfortunately, for MacAskill, the bar was too high when confronted with the challenge of deciding on the bomber's freedom. The overwhelmingly Leftist majority of Scottish politicians (Gordon Brown's "progressive consensus") are imbued with a knee-jerk anti-Americanism. That was at least consistent with their prejudices during the Bush era; but you could not put a cigarette paper between the politics of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy â America's progressive consensus â and Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill. The supreme irony is that Salmond and MacAskill have damaged Obama when his popularity is plunging. Not only has the President been seen to have failed the American families of Lockerbie victims, but his pledge to close down the Guantanamo facility is in yet more trouble â if he releases inmates he will be accused of "doing a MacAskill". That is why he is so exercised. Meantime, far beyond the geopolitical enclave of the White House, America's longstanding love affair with "Scattland" has come to a bad-tempered end. When France antagonised US opinion, the gutters of New Orleans ran with vintage claret poured out by angry restaurateurs: might they soon be streaming with Scotch whisky? Scottish business is concerned about the backlash. Nice one, Kenny. That will not ruffle the moral complacency of the political class, which will regard the ungrateful reaction of a world to which Scotland has gifted Sir Fred Goodwin, Gordon Brown, and now Abdelbaset Al Megrahi as just the latest Scottish grievance to be lovingly cultivated and resented.