By a newsnet reporter
A group of armed forces veterans who are voting Yes – including 102-year-old Desert Rat Jimmy Sinclair – have today issued an open letter in response to an article in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph by Lord Richard Dannatt, in which the No supporting peer attempted to use the deaths of service-personnel as a reason to vote No.
This weekend, the ex-Chief of the General Staff said a Yes vote in Thursday’s referendum would be letting down the families and friends of soldiers, “who died to keep Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom”.
However Lord Dannatt’s remarks have been condemned by former army veterans who have slammed the use of dead servicemen to promote a No vote.
The veterans include Colin May, who has just retired from the Royal Navy and was Lieutenant Commander and a senior Faslane Naval intelligence officer, and Scottish Government Veterans Minister Keith Brown MSP, who served in the Royal Marines and fought in the Falklands.
Expressing their anger in a letter, they write:
“As former UK armed forces personnel, we take the strongest possible exception to the outrageous statement by Lord Richard Dannatt implying that our fallen comrades died in support of a No vote in a Scottish independence referendum.
“How dare he take their sacrifice in vain and try to turn it to political advantage – particularly having presided over the destruction of Scotland’s historic regiments.”
Writing for the Telegraph, Lord Dannatt said: “Between 1969 and 2007, Scottish soldiers fought and died to keep Northern Ireland within the overall United Kingdom – more than 100 of them.
“What was that all about? The IRA fought a bloody 38-year campaign to take Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and join the six northern counties of the island of Ireland to the republic in the south of Ireland as one sovereign state.”
He added: “I worry particularly about the extent that we will be letting them down if Scotland disappears from our country, just on the whim of a few thousand voters…”
Responding, the Veterans said: “People who serve in the armed forces, and veterans, hold a variety of different views on Scotland’s future. We are all voting Yes on Thursday, others will vote No.
“It is that freedom to decide matters democratically which our service men and women have helped safeguard for generations – it is not about bolstering the position of a self-serving Westminster establishment – and the people of Scotland will choose on Thursday. We believe that choice should and will be Yes.”
The letter was signed by:
- Jimmy Sinclair: 102-year-old Desert Rat
- Colin May: Lieutenant Commander, Faslane Naval intelligence officer
- Keith Brown MSP: Royal Marine who served in the Falklands War
- Iain McRobbie: Royal Navy who served in the Falklands War
- Lorraine Orr: Corporal – Adjutant General’s Corps (Staff and Personnel Support)
- Russ Denny: Warrant Officer 2 – Royal Signals & Adjutant Generals’ Corps (Staff and Personnel Support)
- Cllr Kate Howie: Lieutenant Colonel – Royal Logistic Corps
- Marty McNeil: Corporal – Royal Corps of Transport & Royal Logistic Corps
- Gavin Templeton: Corporal – 51st Highland
- Ally Strachan: Corporal – Royal Signals
- Cameron Scott: Warrant Officer 2 – Royal Artillery
- Johnny McNeill: Warrant Officer 2 – Royal Signals
- Jeff Duncan: Former RAF Serviceman – and campaigned for 2 years to Save the Scottish Regiments from MoD cuts
- Cllr Feargal Dalton: Lieutenant Commander – Royal Navy (Submarine Service)
- Ed Campbell: Royal Military Police
- Cliff Purvis: Corporal – Queen’s Own Highlanders and Royal Army Medical Corps
- Stephen Bradford: Lance Corporal – Royal Household Cavalry – Blues and Royals
- Noel Buckley: Lieutenant – Royal Navy