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Blair snubs The Black Watch in Dundee
- 05 Mar 2005

At the Scottish Labour Party conference in Dundee yesterday, Friday 4 March, Prime Minister Tony Blair completely ignored the massive contribution by The Black Watch in the Iraq war and the loss of young lives by failing to mention them once during his speech.

Such is the ingratitude and disrespect of this duplicitous Prime Minister who cares more about cheap public relations exercises than real people.

Tony Blair hid from hundreds of Save the Scottish Regiments campaigners yesterday, choosing to avoid approaching Dundee's Caird Hall from the front, but instead slipping in a side entrance which was heavily guarded by police and men in black!

Blair was harangued by Save the Scottish Regiments protestors when he left Dundee's McManus Galleries later in the afternoon and looked visibly taken aback as Allan Hendry, campaign organiser, stood feet away from Blair's range rover with a megaphone, challenging the Prime Minister to explain his actions in disbanding the Black Watch.

Why anyone who cares about the Scottish Regiments would want to vote for such a disrespectful Prime Minister and a party that no longer represent the people of this country is beyond us!

Please use your vote to punish Labour for their betrayal of The Scottish Regiments by voting for anybody else except Labour, or better still for the next best placed candidate to unseat a sitting or prospective Labour MP.

Dundee SNP candidates given full backing of Save the Scottish Regiments Campaign
- 04 Mar 2005

In a show of solidarity with Dundee's SNP candidates for the seats of both Dundee East and Dundee West and Press conference was held at The Black Watch memorial at Dundee's Powrie Brae.  Approx. a dozen or so Black Watch veterans as well as former Black Watch piper Jimmy Doig joined SNP prospective MP's for Dundee East, Stewart Hosie and for Dundee West, Councillor Joe FitzPatrick at the Press Conference.  Campaign organisers from our campaign attended also.

We look forward to helping the SNP to gain both Dundee seats at the General Election.


Veterans and Campaigners join prospective
SNP candidates for a Press Conference

   
Scots travelling to Liverpool to support Kings Regiment march and rally this Saturday (26th)
- 21 Feb 2005

At least two coach loads of Scottish Regiments supporters are travelling to Liverpool this Saturday (26th Feb) to show support for The Kings Regiment march and rally.  Jeff Duncan, Campaign Organiser, said, "In Edinburgh last December there were many supporters from other parts of the country who came to show solidarity in the face of a devious and divisive Government and Scottish Colonels who have employed every trick in the book to dampen the protests.  It is our turn now to show similar support for The Kings Regiment.

We look forward to many regimental supporters converging on London in April.

Seats are still available (free of charge) for those wishing to travel to Liverpool from Scotland.
Call 01980 59 49 49 or email: info@savethescottishregiments.co.uk

Kings Own Scottish Borderers launch legal challenge over Government  plans to merge
- 20 Feb 2005

The Keep Our Scottish Battalions campaign has confirmed that the Edinburgh Branch of The King's Own Scottish Borderers Association has commenced proceedings before the Scottish Courts to declare that  proposals by the Secretary of State for  Defence relating to the King's Own Scottish Borderers are outwith his powers. The Branch of the Association seeks the protection of the Scottish Courts in upholding the validity of legislation passed by the Scots Parliament in March 1689 in obedience to which the King's Own Scottish Borderers was lawfully established.

   
Soldiers encouraged to Register to Vote in forthcoming General Election
- 17 Feb 2005

www.soldiervote.co.uk

In an important push to encourage as many serving soldiers to Register to Vote - Save the Scottish Regiments Campaign has launched a dedicated information website with simple clear instructions and help for ensuring soldiers are registered to vote at the forthcoming General Election.

Soldier Vote can be reached at www.soldiervote.co.uk  - please pass on this web address to anyone you think might make use of this valuable information

   
Ingram tries to side-step responsibility for Government mess-up over Regimental recruiting
- 26 Jan 2005

Monday’s response from Adam Ingram to a parliamentary question by Anne Winterton on whether a future Royal Regiment of Scotland would be able to maintain five battalions given present recruiting levels has been incredulous in the extreme with Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram attempting to shift the blame for a fall in recruiting on to the Save the Scottish Regiments campaign.

The real reasons for any drop in recruitment, as Mr Ingram knows, but is of course unwilling to share with us, is the following:

1. His own Government has seriously under-estimated the strength of feeling in Scotland to the cuts and amalgamations which would then form a deeply unpopular ‘super-regiment’. Neither serving soldiers nor veterans and the general public accept the rationale for these ill-conceived changes.

2. Recruitment levels have dropped because Government Ministers, Mr Hoon and Mr Ingram in particular, have amply shown serving soldiers and prospective recruits just how undervalued they are. The Black Watch are a perfect example –after two tours of duties in Iraq within 18 months, a dangerous deployment at Camp Dogwood at the request of the U.S. Military and subsequent fatalities, a massive outcry from the public to retain them as a single regiment and soldiers of the regiment who broke ranks to talk to the press to convey the feelings of their fellow soldiers that none of them saw the need or wished to be part of this ‘super regiment’ – none of this has counted for anything by an ungrateful Labour government with Mr Hoon and Mr Ingram arrogantly dismissing MPs, MSPs, formed defence chiefs, many former colonels, brigadiers, serving soldiers, campaigners and the public as misguided and wrong.

3. Furthermore, recruits see other non-active regiments, such as ceremonial guards units remaining untouched by defence budget cuts (they also realise the monetary cuts drives these changes).

4. A bus driver in Edinburgh earns an average £22k for driving along Princes Street – a soldier around £13k for driving an armoured vehicle from Basra to Baghdad, under threat of suicide attacks. Surely this less than minimum wage structure the army employs has ‘a little’ to do with recruitment levels – in short it’s about time we properly recognized the dedication and commitment our soldiers make to this country.

Taking all of the above into account it does not take much for a serving soldier nor a prospective soldier to work out that to give so much for so little and to ultimately be rewarded with the decimation of your regiment is ‘not much of a reward’ – as one soldier put it at the Edinburgh Rally in December.

Mr Ingram may make as many attempts to blame anyone else he sees fits for the mess he and his fellow government ministers have gotten themselves in to, but prospective recruits know where the blame lies, as do serving soldiers and the public – fairly and squarely at the feet of this Labour Government. In attempting this feeble shifting of blame, Mr Ingram only serves to further fuel the already deep resentment of Labour and the depths to which they will stoop to ‘sell a bad idea’.

If Mr Ingram is so sure of his parties plans for the Regiments why does he not have the courage of his conviction and take the blows from the critics – the more Labour ministers spin, distort facts and blame anyone but themselves for this mess the more they come across as devious and unbelievable to prospective recruits and the public.

Hansard, 24th January 2005, Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the future Royal Regiment of Scotland will be able to maintain the establishment for five battalions under present recruiting levels. Mr Ingram: The ability to man the five battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland will depend on a number of factors. It is not possible to predict its establishment until it is clear what roles the battalions of the regiment will be assigned. Recruitment to the Scottish Division has recently been slightly depressed not least by coverage of 'Save the Regiments' campaigns.

 
 
A murky affair conducted behind closed doors and a worried General about to retire 
- 15 Jan 2005

Geoff Hoon’s refusal this week to answer questions from Bruce George, Labour Chairman of the Commons select committee on Defence, on the process which led to the controversial decision to scrap Scotland’s regimental system, is further evidence of the contemptuous approach by Labour to the democratic process of government. Labour’s already indefensible position over these defence cuts to the Scottish Regiments is further discredited and our campaign denounces the Defence secretary and the Prime Minister for approving General Jackson’s plans which came in to being after Gordon Brown’s demands for savings in the army’s budget.

General Jackson has stated this week that campaigners now “accept the changes and move on”. We would instead suggest that General Jackson accepts his place in history, not as a great general but instead be remembered by many Scottish soldiers, families and supporters for the part he has played in the destruction of the Scottish Regiments – an unforgivable and “treacherous” act. The campaign will NOT accept plans which are destructive and wrong for the army. Labour will be amply reminded of their wrongdoing between now and the General Election – a Press conference will be held on Jan 27th in Edinburgh to reveal some of the Election strategy of our campaign.

A press report in today’s Scotsman reveals that General Irwin was personally in favour of reversing the cuts. We should not forget that General Irwin was ‘caught out’ earlier last year when it was revealed that he had written a paper for the Executive Army Board in which he advocated the ending of the single regimental system whilst at the same time writing to all of the Black Watch rank and file to say how committed he was to defending the Black Watch Regiment from army and government attack. The majority of the Black Watch soldiers, veterans and those at RHQ have little or no trust now in their colonel, bar a few ‘career’ officers who are more focused on their own accession within the ranks – no matter what form the regiments take. Alaistair Irwin latest attempt to shift the blame from himself to the politicians should indeed be viewed as highly suspicious – we are told by the Government that the decision comes from the Army Board – General Irwin heads up the Scottish Regiments in Scotland – so according to the Government it is HIS decision. Are we to believe General Irwin and now accept it was the Government who forced the destructive changes to the Scottish Regiments for reasons of defence budget cuts? Even if we do give him the benefit of the doubt, was he powerless to raise his voice in opposition – he had a choice to make and he made the choice to support the damaging changes that he now admits are wrong.

Our campaign has always believed Alaistair Irwin was, and remains, at the heart of the deconstruction of the Scottish Regiments – if he is truly opposed to the cuts then he MUST do the following – issue a complete rejection of the Army Board’s recommendations to the Government and say he was wrong to support them and finally he must apologise to the soldiers of the Six Scottish Regiments – especially The Black Watch Regiment of which he is currently the Colonel. Alaistair Irwin retires from the Army in July and will effectively not be Colonel of the Black Watch Regiment from this April onwards. He has one last chance to demonstrate that his loyalties are with the soldiers of the Scottish Regiment and not an ignorant and arrogant government assisted by General Jackson. Anything less than a complete rejection and an admission he made a mistake will not be enough and he will retire in Scotland and be viewed for ever more as the man who killed the Black Watch and the other five Scottish Regiments.

It takes a brave and honorable man to admit he was wrong - we hope Alaistair Irwin is such a man.

 
 
Royal Highland Fusiliers prepare to head to Basra- Hoon prepares to scrap their Regiment!
10 Jan 2005

The government has announced it is to send more Scottish troops into Iraq, up to 650 troops from the 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers are expected to be sent to British-controlled Basra after an escalation of attacks by insurgent groups. They could well be dispatched to the same area south of Baghdad where the Black Watch suffered the appalling loss of lives. It will be a highly dangerous period for any soldier of the British Army as Iraqi elections draw closer and now doubt insurgents will be keen to cause as much trouble as possible.

Whilst the government expects every soldier to do his duty, it has itself “deserted” it’s own post by effectively rewarding the soldiers who have carried out the work on behalf of this government and country by stabbing them in the back by disbanding their regiments through forced amalgamation. Soldiers, both serving and ex, have made their opposition to the planned mergers and amalgamations perfectly clear. As well as many thousands of supporters who also recognise that the changes are not for the good of the army, the country or the serving soldier.

The Top Army General who has recently been rewarded for his complicity with the government and the duplicitous colonels of the Scottish Regiments, who will no doubt appear in the next New Year’s honours list, should hang their heads in shame and will undoubtedly be remembered for their dishonourable role in refusing to lift a finger to save their Regiments. With only the exception of the KOSB Regimental Colonel, the others Scottish Colonels voted to amalgamate their regiments – the Royal Scots Colonel even voted to disband his own Regiment! These colonels are supposed to represent and defend their regiments – the rank and file who make up these regiments now view these colonels as nothing less than lapdogs of the government, more interested in their own selfish interests whilst at the same time pretending the changes are for the good of the regiment as a whole – they have failed to convince anyone except themselves.

As the New Year begins in parliament the message from the Government to the soldiers of those regiments affected is effectively - “we expect you to do your duty – just don’t expect the same from us!”. The campaign to Save the Scottish Regiments is planning for a very active spring, which will include a mass rally in London in April. We are busy working on our election strategy and will announce details soon. The campaign is already talking to other campaign groups representing affected regiments in England to further enlighten the electorate of the damage being done to the British Army and to urge everyone to repay this Labour Government at the ballot box – key will be the very marginal seats for Labour.

Although the campaign is a single issue campaign it will no doubt contribute to the making up of many people’s minds in who they should vote for at the forthcoming election – our campaign will be on hand to remind the public between now and the General Election.

 
 
Hugely Succesful March and Rally in Edinburgh- 20 Dec 2004

The hugely successful Edinburgh March and rally took place last Saturday and attracted supporters of 3,000 plus!!  On top of that the number of people who gathered to line Princes Street was immense as shoppers joined in and dropped bags to clap the march as it passed by.  Stirring speeches from the stage sent out warning after warning to Labour.  Ignore us at your peril - we will damage you at the ballot box.

The resulting media coverage has truly raised awareness but we must not rest on our laurels - we must push forward and build on this successful day.

To that end we annouce several key plans for early 2005

l LONDON RALLY

§                 In late March / Early April 2005 we shall stage a mass March and rally in the center of London, 2 chartered trains will leave from both Inverness and Aberdeen (one for the West Coast and one for the East Coast).
We may also charter other forms of transport.  The message to the government is simple – engage in meaningful discussion with those who will be affected by the destructful plans or face a well-organised and wide-spread campaign to ensure lost votes for Labour through tactical voting and SSRC candidates.

  VOTES FOR SOLDIERS

§                 An alarming number of serving soliders are not properly registered to vote at the forthcoming general election – a separate initiative to ensure as many servicemen as possible are registered to vote will commence on Jan 1 2005.

§                 A part of that initiative will be to direct as many to vote tactically against Labour to ensure maximum damage to Labour’s prospects in all areas of Scotland, especially those marginal Labour seats.

  WIDENING CAMPAIGN TO INCLUDE ENGLISH REGIMENT CAMPAIGNS

§                 Several English Regiments face similar destructful plans for their Regiments and as a result campaigns have started for those Regiments – we are in the process of talking to those campaign groups and plan to make this issue a nationwide issue. 

§                 Those campaigners and supporters in England will of course join us in National Rallies – especially in London

 


Scottish Colonels accused of lack of back bone by former Lieutenant Colonel- 15 Dec 2004

Former Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford has accused the Six Scottish Colonels of simply rolling over and failing to mount a behind-the-scenes campaign against the cuts. Stuart Crwford who is highly respected for his military and legal knowledge said "If this lot had been in charge at Bannockburn, then no doubt the Scots army would have been ordered to lay down its arms and surrender. Thank God Bruce’s generals were made of sterner stuff," he said. "The English colonels who have refused to co-operate with the MoD’s plans have shamed the Scots colonels with their robust and principled stance."

SSRC Comment:

Our Campaign has for over 4 months squarely pointed the finger at the head of the Scottish Colonels Alistair Irwin for his failure to defend his own Regiment, The Black Watch and for having a foot in both camps, simulatenously carrying out the destructive plans of the Army Board whilst giving the impression to the rank and file of his regiment that he would defend them from such moves.  We deplore this behaviour and when it was discovered via a leaked document that Alistair Irwin had advocated these changes as far back as May 2003 we immediately called for him to either resign his position as Head of the Scottish Colonels or Colonel of The Black Watch.  Obviously he did not feel the conflict of both positions was of a serious enough nature.  Meanwhile, conversations our campaign has had with many serving soldiers, veterans and family members as well as public supporters has revealed the extent of the damage to Alistair Irwin's standing.  We cannot repeat what has been said but suffice to say the majority of it is very negative.


Lord Guthrie's views dismissed by arrogant Hoon - 13 Dec 2004

Lord Guthrie, the former head of the Armed Forces, said yesterday that cutbacks have left the Army "dangerously small and over-committed".

Lord Guthrie: 'The Army is not just another job'Lord Guthrie

The retired general, who is Colonel Commandant of the Special Air Service and served as Chief of both the General Staff and the Defence Staff, told The Telegraph that Government plans to cut the size of the infantry were a mistake and would leave Britain unable, in certain situations, to react militarily.

Referring to the plans, to be announced this week, to cut the number of infantry battalions from 40 to 36, Lord [Charles] Guthrie said: "The Army is very small as it is and has a huge number of commitments. It has become dangerously small for what it is being asked to do.

"The Army always has to be prepared for the unexpected but, of course, if you have too small an Army you can't react." Ministers did "not understand" the military.

The intervention by Lord Guthrie on the eve of an announcement on the future structure of the Army will alarm the Government. Lord Guthrie, 66, who served as a senior officer under both Conservative and Labour governments before retiring four years ago, was highly regarded by Tony Blair, and is seen as one of the finest and most combative Defence Staff heads of the past 30 years.


Army Chief plays at politics as he blames UK media for Black Watch soldiers deaths- 10 Dec 2004

Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Michael Walker, the UK's most senior military officer, said attacks on the Scots regiment may have been prompted by media coverage of their deployment to the so-called "Triangle of Death" in central Iraq. Five members of the 850-strong battle-group were killed during their month-long mission to Camp Dogwood, near Baghdad, and the unit came under regular attack with roadside bombs, mortar fire, grenades and small arms.

General Walker said: "I think the contribution towards the initial attacks against the Black Watch was certainly enhanced by, if you like, a media picture that was being laid across a number of channels in all sorts of places. "As a result of that, there could well have been a response by those who wished us ill to go and meet us with something like a bomb."

Strange but perhaps not unexpected that once again a General of the Army will shift blame to anywhere other than where it belongs - which in this particular case is himself and minister such as Adam Ingram and Geoff Hoon, who because of their desperation to back the Prime Minister who had already made the decision to support the American request for troops further North, were prepared to reveal such details as when the advance recon. units of The Black Watch were travelling and then the actual bulk of The Black Watch Battle Group itself.

If anyone is too blame in the UK for contributing to the attacks on the Black Watch it is the MoD and Government Ministers for effectively printing a "terrorists timetable".

 


Legend Sir Sean Connery backs The Save the Scottish Regiments campaign - 09 Dec 2004

The Save the Scottish Regiments Campaign is delighted to announce the support of Sir Sean Connery to our campaign to Save Scotland’s Six Regiments. Sir Sean, believes in retaining what is best about Scotland and he understands the important contribution our Regiments make to the security of the United Kingdom and indeed the world.

Sir Sean joins a vast number of supporters from every walk of life, from serving soldiers and veterans to politicians, actors, establishment figures and of course the Scottish public. All united with the same message for Tony Blair.

Hands of our Regiments!

Stabbing our soldiers in the back while they serve our country is not acceptable. Proceed with these plans and your party will reap what it is now sowing at the General Election. Sir Sean sends his best wishes for the national March and Rally being held in Edinburgh on Saturday 18th December. March along Princes Street at 11:30am and Rally in Princes Street Gardens at 12 mid-day. Full detail available at Rally website: http://www.edinburghrally.co.uk/

 

Carry On Basra - Hoon's 'Publicity Stunt' to Iraq - 09 Dec 2004

Today Geoff Hoon arrives in Basra to ‘spend as much time as possible with troops’ in what the mod claims was a trip arranged some time ago. It is a little too late in the day for Mr Hoon to look concerned for the welfare of the Scottish soldiers, especially of the black watch – who endured tragic fatalities after he agreed to send them to camp dogwood, Baghdad at the request of the Americans.

If Mr Hoon really cared for the welfare of those soldiers he would have visited the Black Watch at camp dogwood when they needed support of a government minister most. Mr Hoon was of course too busy with a trip to India with his wife at the time, Mr Hoon has a track record of making pleasurable trips to warmer climates when British soldiers are engaged in battle – remember the gulf war! Families and campaigners are not fooled by this shameless opportunistic media stunt by Mr Hoon whose sole objective is for photo opportunities in which he will give the appearance of being supportive and welcomed by soldiers.

Hundreds of family members and serving soldiers have made it clear to our campaign of their utter contempt for Mr Hoon and his plans for the Scottish regiments. Mr Hoon, who has never served in any of the armed forces, will be remembered as the defence minister who stabbed soldiers in the back whilst he shook hands for his own selfish pr purposes.

Nobody will be fooled by this latest desperate attempt by Mr Hoon to sell his unwanted and ill-conceived plans for the Scottish regiments.


Over 1,000 people sign petition in matter of hours in Stirling City Centre - 04 Dec 2004

Over 1,000 people signed the Save the Scottish Regiments petition in Stirling’s city centre on Saturday morning in an extraordinary display of public support for the local regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Stirling’s Tories - led by prospective parliamentary candidate, Stephen Kerr - had taken to the streets to champion the cause of Scotland’s threatened infantry regiments.
The Labour government is proposing to disband all six of Scotland’s infantry regiments and create a so-called ‘super-regiment’ comprising of five battalions. Stephen Kerr commented, “The response is fantastic. People queued up to sign the petition because they wanted to register their support for Scotland’s regiments. What’s so impressive is the number of people who proudly volunteer their family connection with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

The threat to the future of the regiment is taken as an attack on this community. “Feelings are running high. There is deep resentment towards the Labour Party and especially Mrs McGuire. People are disgusted that their elected representative has done nothing to stand up for the regiment that means so much to so many people. “Friday’s stunt at the Castle* has only intensified the feeling of betrayal. The last thing people wanted from Mrs McGuire is more spin. But that is all she could come up with! “Stirling is sick and tired of Labour’s ‘smoke and mirrors’ but no action.”

Jeff Duncan of the national 'Save the Scottish Regiments' campaign announced an escalation of the campaign: “We are now calling on supporters of the Save the Scottish Regiments Campaign to further reduce Labour’s overall vote in Scotland by casting their vote at the election for the best placed candidate to unseat a sitting Labour MP or prevent a Labour candidate from winning – we are actively working with candidates from other political parties around Scotland to ensure this will have an negative effect on Labour’s vote count.”

*Mrs McGuire and Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram MP staged a visit to the Castle and held a meeting with the Regimental Association (a closed session which ignored rank and file members opinions)


Britain's Top Soldier - General Jackson asks for apology

General Jackson, Chief of the General Staff
has asked Save the Scottish Regiments Campaign founder, Jeff Duncan, for an apology.  He claims that Jeff has brought into question Commanding Officer of The Black Watch, James Cowan's integrity.  Below is the transcript of General Jackson's letter to the editor of The Dundee Courier and the reply to that letter from Jeff Duncan

Letter from General Mike Jackson to Courier Editor
Dear Mr Hutcheon,

Your report this morning (29 November) that Jeff Duncan, organiser of the Save the Scottish Regiments campaign, is of the opinion that Lieutenant Colonel James Cowan, Commanding Officer of the Black Watch, “is having to say what he’s saying right now because he’s under immense pressure directly from General Jackson … he faces losing his career”.

First, let me make it clear that James Cowan is under no pressure – direct or indirect – whatsoever from me in the matter of the future infantry structure; what he and his battlegroup do have is my thanks and praise for a difficult job well done in Iraq. Secondly, it is insulting of Jeff Duncan to suggest that I would behave in such an underhand way or, more importantly, that a commanding officer would succumb to such improper behaviour by a general. Whatever Jeff Duncan’s opinions, he needs to understand that the British Army does not work in such a dishonourable manner.

Perhaps he does understand but feels that he has to insult James Cowan’s integrity in order to protect his own position which puts emotion before the fighting capability of the whole British Army. I believe he owes James Cowan an apology.

Yours sincerely,

Mike Jackson


Response to General Jackson from Jeff Duncan
General Jackson you are wrong in your accusations towards myself. Firstly, I would like to make it perfectly clear that at no time have I implied that James Cowan is anything other than an honourable commanding officer, who has always put his regiments needs and welfare before that of his own.

During the first stages of the Iraq war James Cowan wrote back to point out the shortages of equipment that his men faced, and just this month he sent emails from Iraq to point out that he felt the government may not have “fully appreciated” the position it was placing the Black Watch in by moving it to Camp Dogwood. The rank and file soldiers of The Black Watch (as well as the five other Scottish Regiments) do NOT support the plans you have drawn up for their future, Recent press shows just exactly the depth of feeling from serving soldiers in the Black Watch - it is not supportive of the change you propose. Our campaign has talked to many serving officers from all the Scottish Regiments and what appears to exist is an atmosphere of fear where if anyone dared to speak out they may find there future posting confined to Shackleton Barracks in N.Ireland for the next 20 years (to quote one officer). In my opinion it does not take much thought to conclude that James Cowan has had pressure bought to bare on him – I personally find it hard to swallow that he could be so out of touch with his men – therefore I am forced to conclude he has indeed been pressured from his seniors. We have overwhelming support from hundreds of families of serving soldiers who write to us daily to express their anger and deep resentment towards the Army and Government for the way their sons and husbands are treated – they realise the serving soldier does not have a public voice

As I may have your attention at this point I would like to stress that the veterans who previously served with the Scottish Regiments are anything but nostalgic and sentimental, indeed they are highly intelligent men who know the value of the current Regimental system and recognise the wilful destruction of the Army’s proposed changes. These cuts and amalgamations are driven by budgetary concerns by the Chancellor, which in turn cascades to the Defence Secretary and then your own in-tray. It is a pity that you felt it necessary to force through your plans rather than work with all concerned parties to reach an amicable and well-supported plan for the future of the Scottish Regiments.

It is not too late to admit that ECAB did not account properly for the strength of feeling over the issue of the Scottish Regiments and engage in meaningful consultation with the serving soldiers and veterans of the Scottish Regiments.

As it stands today the vast majority of serving soldiers, veterans, campaigners and the Scottish public view the proposed future for the Scottish Regiments as wholly unacceptable and will fight to the bitter end to repel them.

 


The following is a transcript taken from Prime Minister's Q&A session on Monday 29 Nov 2004

Save the Scottish Regiments Comments are in red

You said that the issue of the disbandment of the Scottish regiments is being handled by senior Army officers. Well those senior Army officers have made two things clear: one, that the plan to scrap the regiment is going to go ahead; and secondly, that the final decision is not a military one but lies with you. Can you tell the soldiers of the Scottish regiments, many of whom are still out fighting in Iraq, and the Scottish people, why you can't or won't come up with a solution that will preserve their regimental status? 

Prime Minister: 

Well we are trying to come up with a solution that satisfies everybody, and no-one has made any announcement at all so far as I am aware yet, but what we are trying to do is to marry two things together if you like - one is the regimental identity and people's belief that they want to keep that regimental identity, and the other is the Army's desire, sensibly in the modern world, for a more flexible means of people crossing over in the disciplines within our Armed Forces. That is what they are trying to do. And I don't think this argument is actually helped by trying to polarise it around some great issue of party politics, it is not.

It is laughable that a Prime Minister who has admitted it is a political decision then feels that the parliamentary democracy of challenging government decisions can no longer be tolerated.  The SNP and The Conservatives have honoured themselves by challenging the Government over these ill-conceived and barely support plans for the Scottish Regiments, these politicians represent the people – and lest PM Blair forgets – these are the people who will desert his party in droves at the General Election over this issue.


The reason why these original proposals were made was because the Army felt that the old system was not sufficiently flexible to meet modern needs. Now what we are trying to do is meet that objection and issue, at the same time as making sure that those people who are going to continue to be employed by our Armed Forces still retain that sense of identity within their regiment, that is what we are trying to do. Now there is no point in me speculating about the outcome, or frankly you, until we actually get the outcome.  And of course ultimately all these things are political decisions. 

It is finally nice of you to admit this is a political decision – perhaps you can tell the whole truth and now explain that this is a defence budget cut to balance the huge overspend with FRES and Eurofighter projects as well as the war.


.. but the point is this, you know what is sensible for us to do is to work with the Army to get the right solution for our Armed Forces, and what I think was being said over the weekend by the Commanding Officer of the Black Watch is there is a view of the actual people presently serving that is also important in this, and isn't necessarily the view that is there in parts of the media.  

The Black Watch CO, James Cowan has clearly been ‘got at’ by General Jackson and Sir Alistair Irwin.  He has 1 yr left in service with The Black Watch before moving on – reliable sources have informed us that he was ordered from his superiors to ‘get the message across” Bully boy tactics and brow-beating by generals intent on having their own selfish way – supported by a gutless Prime Minister too scared to stand up to a general in a suit with lots of medals!


And it is important again in addition to understand that nobody is suggesting that the people who are fighting and doing a fantastic and courageous job with the Black Watch now out in Iraq are somehow going to be made unemployed, or all their traditions are going to be disbanded. Nobody is suggesting that.

You are making them unemployed Mr Blair – those soldiers joined the Black Watch or The Royal Scots or The Kings Own Scottish Borderers or any of the six Scottish Regiments.  If you government allows the destruction of those single regiments then you make the job the signed up for redundant.


The issue is simply whether the rigid demarcation of regiments, and the fact that people stick with the one regiment throughout their career, whether that is sensible to be maintained in today's world in the same way, that is the discussion that is going on and it is a discussion that as I say I think we should be able to have without it generating stories about how we are sort of betraying this, or doing down people, and that.

Mr Blair they are not stories – the soldiers of the 1st Battalion The black Watch are themselves saying they are being stabbed in the back by your government – can you please answer these three soldiers.

Quote: from Scotsman on Saturday:

Private Wayne Mackie, 25, from Dundee:  “This is a kick in the teeth, considering we have lost six men out here”  “We can’t understand why they want to disband us” 

Private Ian Porteous, 20, from Dundee “People appreciate what we are doing – the Government obviously doesn’t.  I can’t see why Hoon wants to get rid of us”

Private Lee Beaton, 23, from Dundee “The decision is particularly hard to take when you see the amount of taxpayers money the Defence Secretary and other MPS spend on themselves.  They should all come and spend some time out here with us.  Then they would see why we are worth keeping”


We are not trying to do anything other than get the most effective British Armed Force we can for the modern world.

If the Prime Minister believes in having an effective British Armed Force then he should invest properly instead of making budget cutbacks – the simple fact is that we are loosing soldiers through cutbacks to their numbers.

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Soldiers explain feelings of betrayal by Government

Despite desperate attempts by General Jackson and Sir Alistair Irwin to try and suppress the real feeling amongst soldiers of the Scottish Regiments, three extremely brave soldiers have exposed the true feelings of the serving soldier.

:: click here :: to read this article

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Solidarity from all the Scottish Regiments - Press Release 25th November 2004

At a meeting held at The Royal Scots Club in Edinburgh last night Regimental Secretaries and Representatives from Scotland’s Six Regimental Associations plus Representatives from other Scottish Regimental Associations who's Regiments have already disappeared (previously disbanded or merged) and The Save the Scottish Regiments Campaign have agreed to issue the following joint statement.

As representatives from the Regimental Associations we unreservedly and wholeheartedly reject the proposals by the Army Board to merge the Royals Scots and the Kings Own Scottish Borderers.   Furthermore, we entirely reject the plans for the amalgamation of the remaining five regiments into a single enlarged battalion or what is often referred to as a “super regiment”

The proposals, announced by the Council of Scottish Colonels, does not have a mandate from the people it is supposed to represent, the serving soldier.  Soldiers have no voice in the current process, which will decide their future, as under military law they are forbidden to take part in political debate or any form of protest.  Past service and sacrifices made by thousands of soldiers, both alive and dead, throughout two World Wars and various campaigns have barely been recognised, nor taken into consideration in these hastily and ill-conceived plans.

We believe the choice for the Government is a simple one.  Engage in meaningful consultation with serving soldiers, veterans and other concerned parties to ensure that Scotland’s six historic regiments do not lose their identity and most importantly their right to exist as single regiments, whilst working towards reforms, which benefit the Army as a whole and the future of the Scottish Division.

Should the government decide to press ahead with plans as currently recommended by the Army Board, we shall give our full support to The Save the Scottish Regiments Campaign which will engage the government at the forthcoming General Election by contesting marginal Labour seats
throughout Scotland.  In addition, on Election Day we shall have a presence at every polling station throughout Scotland to remind the Scottish people of the gross betrayal of it’s soldiers and the willful destruction of it’s historic regiments, which is also perceived as an attack upon Scottish Heritage and Culture.

We also announce that a Mass March and Rally will be held in Edinburgh on Saturday 18 December.  The March will take place along Princes Street with a Rally in Princes Street Garden afterwards.  Time  11:30am till approx. 1:15pm.  Details of speakers, etc. can be found on the
Rally Website at
http://www.edinburghrally.co.uk/ which will be updated regularly with new information.
 

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Edinburgh National Rally - December 18th

Attention is now focussing on the National Save the Scottish Regiments Rally to be held in Edinburgh on 18 December.  Details and speakers are still be worked out but you can keep up to date with the rally website at
:: http://www.edinburghrally.co.uk/ ::
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Labour continue to display their typical arrogance.

This Wednesday's commons debate which was secured by Pete Wishart, SNP MP for North Tayside, as expected produced little in the way of answers as to the Government's plans for Scotland's Regiments.  The clear message from Adam Ingram, delivered in his usual arrogant and dismissive manner, was that the Scottish Regiments would not remain single Regiments and that the destructive changes would take place.

Our campaign fully expects the Government to produce an altered plan which will offer little in the way of real change to their ill-conceived plans.  Watch this space for a helping of Labour spin!

 
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