Gaddafi killed, say Libyan officials

Major news agencies reporting that the former dictator has died after being arrested. Warning: conta

The image above --taken on a mobile phone -- appears to show Muammar Gaddafi being arrested in Sirte.

It is now being reported by major news agencies including Reuters that the former dictator has died of his injuries. Sky News has played a video which appears to show Gaddafi's body being dragged through the streets of Sirte.

This comes after revolutionaries took Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown and the final stronghold of his loyalists.

Earlier today, the Information Centre for the Misrata Military Council said:

Now in contact with our correspondent at the front of the Sirte. The tyrant Muammar Gaddafi was arrested. God is great and thank God.

Following this, the National Transitional Council's information minister, Mahmoud Shammam, appeared on al-Jazeera. He stopped short of confirming the claim -- which was being widely reported on Libyan TV -- but alluded to the rumour:

I think we can say that Sirte is liberated ...I think the celebrations are going on right now. Also there's big talk about some big fish on their way to Misrata. I cannot confirm anything but people over there are talking they caught a big fish.

Asked about the NTC's intentions if Gaddafi had been captured, he said:

We are going to put him in front of the court, we're not going to hang him in the street. We are going to give him the fair trial he never gave the Libyan people. We hope that we are catching some big names so we can put them in the court and let the people have the last word on their fate ...I think every Libyan wants to see Gaddafi stand trial.

Abdel Majid, another NTC official, appeared to confirm the capture by telling Reuters that Gaddafi was injured in both legs.

UPDATE - 12.56: Al-Jazeera and Reuters are both reporting that Gaddafi has been killed.

 

 

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

How Jim Murphy's mistake cost Labour - and helped make Ruth Davidson

Scottish Labour's former leader's great mistake was to run away from Labour's Scottish referendum, not on it.

The strange revival of Conservative Scotland? Another poll from north of the border, this time from the Times and YouGov, shows the Tories experiencing a revival in Scotland, up to 28 per cent of the vote, enough to net seven extra seats from the SNP.

Adding to the Nationalists’ misery, according to the same poll, they would lose East Dunbartonshire to the Liberal Democrats, reducing their strength in the Commons to a still-formidable 47 seats.

It could be worse than the polls suggest, however. In the elections to the Scottish Parliament last year, parties which backed a No vote in the referendum did better in the first-past-the-post seats than the polls would have suggested – thanks to tactical voting by No voters, who backed whichever party had the best chance of beating the SNP.

The strategic insight of Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in Scotland, was to to recast her party as the loudest defender of the Union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. She has absorbed large chunks of that vote from the Liberal Democrats and Labour, but, paradoxically, at the Holyrood elections at least, the “Unionist coalition” she assembled helped those parties even though it cost the vote share.

The big thing to watch is not just where the parties of the Union make gains, but where they successfully form strong second-places against whoever the strongest pro-Union party is.

Davidson’s popularity and eye for a good photo opportunity – which came first is an interesting question – mean that the natural benefactor in most places will likely be the Tories.

But it could have been very different. The first politician to hit successfully upon the “last defender of the Union” routine was Ian Murray, the last Labour MP in Scotland, who squeezed both the  Liberal Democrat and Conservative vote in his seat of Edinburgh South.

His then-leader in Scotland, Jim Murphy, had a different idea. He fought the election in 2015 to the SNP’s left, with the slogan of “Whether you’re Yes, or No, the Tories have got to go”.  There were a couple of problems with that approach, as one  former staffer put it: “Firstly, the SNP weren’t going to put the Tories in, and everyone knew it. Secondly, no-one but us wanted to move on [from the referendum]”.

Then again under different leadership, this time under Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour once again fought a campaign explicitly to the left of the SNP, promising to increase taxation to blunt cuts devolved from Westminster, and an agnostic position on the referendum. Dugdale said she’d be open to voting to leave the United Kingdom if Britain left the European Union. Senior Scottish Labour figures flirted with the idea that the party might be neutral in a forthcoming election. Once again, the party tried to move on – but no-one else wanted to move on.

How different things might be if instead of running away from their referendum campaign, Jim Murphy had run towards it in 2015. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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