The release of Libyan bomber al-Megrahi was certainly unpopular, but a credible case can be made for it on several grounds. The judicial case - compassionate release - has been given by the Scots. A less palatable, but still realistic, case would be political, and that has been referred to in frequent press comments. The real problem for the prime minister is his unwillingness to make any case at all. His initial silence, subsequent curt and uninformative comment, and the late, reluctant release of correspondence all speaks of a man who has no idea how to seize the initiative on this issue.
Gordon Brown is an intelligent man and a political animal, but his tenure as prime minister has been awkward - some would say disastrous - because he lacks the emotional empathy necessary to be an effective political communicator, and he is painfully slow to advocate his own convictions because he doesn't know how it will play. I doubt whether he can change his spots so far into a lengthy political career, but if he could just find it within himself to articulate his convictions with confidence, regardless of how he thinks it would play to the public, and to drive rather than hide from controversial issues, he might be able to recover some of his own political standing regardless of what happens in the election.