They always say you should write about what you know. What a pity Kevin McKenna failed to heed this basic guideline when writing his attack on Ruth Davidson for taking up the post of Honorary Colonel of 32 Sigs regiment, as clearly he knows little or nothing about the Territorial Army and fell back on the much worn stereotypes of it being a Dad’s Army type organisation, wandering aimlessly around the Campsies playing dress up. As someone who spent a total of 17 years in the TA let me try and put Kevin straight on the “part-time professionals”. When the regular soldiers were going off duty on a Friday night many TA soldiers were finishing shifts at their normal Monday to Friday jobs, they would then spend a weekend training, often on exercise with little or no sleep in all conditions, before returning to work on Monday. The training we would carry out was virtually the same as that carried out by regular soldiers, so much so that on the occasions where we were trained or deployed alongside regular soldiers you would be hard pushed to tell the difference. I attended many training courses where I and other TA soldiers not only equalled but outperformed our regular counterparts, and the TA soldiers I served with included some of the finest soldiers I know, regular or otherwise. TA soldiers have been deployed alongside their regular colleagues more and more in recent years, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. The idea that they are somehow all in the Private Pike mould couldn’t be further from the truth, and perhaps Kevin McKenna should take the time to visit a TA deployment and maybe he’d learn something.
As for the real subject of his article, I as an ex-serviceman was left slack jawed at the appointment of Ruth Davidson as Honorary Colonel to her former regiment, as it showed a complete lack of tact from the MOD for offering the role and from her in accepting it. Once upon a time for an ex-serviceman to become an Honorary Colonel was a sign of your contribution to your regiment, a reward for perhaps long and distinguished service; as far as I am aware Ruth Davidson only spent some two years as an officer cadet before leaving through injury, and was never actually commissioned. Nowadays the role of Honorary Colonel is dished out to all and sundry and is perhaps on par with those gaudily attired Regimental Goats that are wheeled out for ceremonial occasions.
These are however the least of my concerns. Davidson has spent the last few years rallying the forces of unionism to rebuild the Conservative Party. She’s wrapped herself in the union flag and banged on about “no divisive second referendum” above all else. She has successfully managed to convince hard core British Nationalists that her party will protect the union and by exploiting Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent support for the IRA has also seen the Orange Order come back to the fold en-masse, with many abandoning Labour and any pretence of concerns over policies as they do so.
I was told recently of a soldier who decided to run in the council elections, who was told that if he was successful he would have to leave the military. The military is supposed to be impartial, to represent all of us equally, but this appointment blurs the lines of impartiality, and instead subliminally invites us to draw a line between supporting the union, the military and the Orange Order/ the far right and the Conservatives. Army regulations clearly forbid the wearing of uniform where it may infer some sort of support by the MOD. The fact that Ruth Davidson is not actually a serving soldier means the rules don’t actually apply in this case, however the spirit of the rules should be adhered to as they exist for good reason and their minutiae is not known to the average person. Most people will simply see the Tory leader being endorsed by the Army, nothing less.
Someone, somewhere has played up to Ruth Davidsons vanity, allowing her to extend her repertoire from prancing around on a tank to actually playing dress up as Colonel Gadaftie. If Davidson had any sense she’d have politely refused the offer until she had left politics, instead she has grabbed it and will milk it for all its worth, and as we see from Kevin’s article, will taint the armed forces reputation in the process.