The big news this evening is that Gordon Brown is to throw his weight behind the long-running campaign from the families of IRA victims for compensation from Libya.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged Sunday to support compensation claims made against Libya by victims of IRA bombings, after reports he declined to press Libya's leader on the issue.
Brown said he cared "desperately" about victims of IRA bombings and their families, after a newspaper claimed Brown would not press leader Moamer Kadhafi for compensation because he feared upsetting oil-rich Libya.
Once again the man's political instincts are abandoning him as he should only enter into such a position if he can be sure that compensation will be delivered. He is the Prime Minister, not a hopeful pressure group waiting for Ghaddafi to decide whether the Libyan leader will hand over some loose change or not.
Furthermore, given how long these families have been pushing for this compensation, it looks tiresomely opportunistic of Brown to jump on the bandwagon at this late stage and only because Libya happen to be in the headlines. If Gordon Brown is indeed a man of principle, his moral compass would have pointed him towards this issue a long time ago and he should have acted then.
Most of the headlines this morning were about Brown NOT assisting these Irish families. Is he now acting on the back of the strength of their arguments or because an Observer journalist was giving the PM a hard time?
Put another way, some leaders shape events and others merely react to them.
On Gordon Brown's best days he barely makes it into the first category and on all other days he's doing well to stagger into the latter. His long silences on the original Lockerbie decision, his dithering on holding an election, his u-turn on the 10p rate of tax and his poor leadership on the Gurkhas debate testify to that.
The only good news about this decision, aside from briefly raising the hopes for some Irish families, is that it takes the spotlight and heat well and truly off the SNP on the issue of Lockerbie.
UPDATE: The more I think about this, the more I think it's a terrible idea. Given the number of different countries and organisations that we in the UK have sold weapons to that in turn have been used for regrettable purposes (not to mention the bombs we've dropped on innocent families all around the world) aren't we opening ourselves up to the mother of all lawsuits here? And the charge of hypocrisy when we inevitably refuse to honour an agreement to any similar compensation claims?