Monday, July 26, 2004

Not Just One Regiment. . .

. . .as we worried about in this post. Instead, it is all of Scotland's military heritage that is to be destroyed. Along with a goodly chunk of Britain's military capability in every area: air, sea, and land. As one British (indeed, English, as it happens) friend said to me "Fine. Now we're fully prepared for a war against Monaco. Provided someone who still has a navy agrees to give us a lift."

There is much discussion in the Scottish press. This article headlined "Anger Grows over Scots Regiments Shake-up" includes the following:

SNP shadow Scottish minister for defence Angus Robertson said: "This news is a disaster for the whole of Scotland, and our servicemen and women deserve better treatment from the Government. Our armed forces, their families, veterans and the communities have been badly let down by the Government."

Tory shadow secretary of state for Scotland Peter Duncan described the cuts as "gross negligence". He said: "The Defence Secretary can dress this up all he likes, but the simple fact is that this announcement is all about cuts.

"Scotland’s regiments have worked tirelessly to preserve the freedom of our people and bring freedom to others over hundreds of years. We live in a time where terrorist fanatics pose a threat, and our Armed Forces are already stretched to the limits. To stretch them further is nothing short of gross negligence on the part of the Government."

Lib Dem spokesman for Scottish affairs John Thurso added: "

"At a time when this Government seems intent on committing the UK to new military enterprises throughout the globe it is quite ludicrous to be carrying out reductions of this kind.

"This announcement is an insult to the proud tradition and record of military service by Scots over many generations."

The military itself has been issued a gag order; no adverse comments permitted. Major Ronnie Proctor, the semi-retired keeper of the Black Watch's regimental museum received a sharp dressing down for expressing "disappointment". Nevertheless, many in the military have decided not to take it lying down.

On Saturday The Scotsman revealed that Brigadier Hughie Monro, colonel of the Highlanders regiment, had described the cuts as "barking mad" in a letter to his troops.

And yesterday, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford, who served with the 4th Royal Tank Regiment, questioned whether the MoD could enforce the gagging order. He said that European human rights legislation gave soldiers the right to freedom of expression.

"Soldiers who have been threatened with disciplinary action are being treated in a manner which is not legal," he said.

The suggestion has also been made this will be the last nail in Tony Blair's coffin. And, indeed, the biggest boost that the Scottish National Party has ever had.

Some have banded together to "save the Scottish regiments". And the best of luck to them.