MoD face battle over future of Black Watch

The MP who represents the home of the Black Watch, Pete Wishart, has called for the UK Government to abandon any plans which would further compromise the identity of the battalion following reports that the names of two famous Scottish regiments are set to be merged in a bid to mask cuts to the army.

Reports suggest that the names of the Black Watch and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders are to be merged.

With the recently-announced disbandment of 40 Regiment, the Lowland Gunners, one-third - three of the nine Scottish-raised battalions in the army - have now been scrapped by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition.

The Perth and North Perthshire SNP MP is to seek a Westminster debate on the future of Scottish recruited units, and has tabled an EDM demanding Ministerial assurances.

Mr Wishart said:

“This would be disgraceful betrayal of the Black Watch by the UK Government, and Ministers must abandon any plans to further compromise the identity of our historic units.

“It is clear that proposals to merge the names of the Black Watch and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders are just a cack-handed attempt to mask MoD cuts to the army in Scotland.

“With the disbandment of the 40th Royal Artillery Regiment only 8 of 140 regular units will be Scottish recruited and only three of those, or a shocking 2 per cent, are actually based in Scotland. It brings into focus the disturbing decline of Scottish recruited units and exposes the extent to which the UK Government are running-down Scotland's defence capabilities.

“In contrast to the need for a well funded conventional defence presence in Scotland, the reality is completely the opposite. For over a decade Scotland has been short changed, losing more than 10,500 defence jobs and enduring a £5.6billion underspend.

“As the former CO of the Black Watch pointed out, the real damage was done seven years ago when historic regiments were amalgamated by the previous Labour government to become part of Scotland's single "super regiment”. Nobody outside of Whitehall wanted to see the amalgamation of Scottish regiments - it was a small comfort that the unique identities of the battalions would be preserved and now even that seems to be at risk.

"We should make better defence decisions in Scotland and not leave it to London."