Yesterday the SNP MSP Christine Grahame criticised the army for recruiting in deprived areas of Scotland. She also stated that Scots army recruits stood a one in nine chance of being badly wounded or coming home in a body bag.
The MoD is strongly denying her statistics. I disagree with them as much as I disagree with Ms Grahame's source. The MoD's numbers are over a period of 4 years don't include personnel who have been injured. They are wrong because many battalions have had more than one tour of duty in Afghanistan therefore of the MoD's numbers, 68,000 in 4 years, many will be the same personnel so therefore the individual risk is higher.
Despite the mounting death toll in Afghanistan and the increase in public hostility towards the war there, 1,000 Scots men and women joined the army between April and December this year. Support for our troops is strong in Scotland and I'm sure it is the same throughout the UK. Ms Grahame also mentioned the rise in numbers was possibly due to Scots having no other career choice open to them.
Her comments were allegedly in direct contrast to those of her party. Bruce Crawford, the Minister for Parliamentary Business, had earlier welcomed the rise in recruitment.
Labour called on Alex Salmond to condemn Ms Graham's comments saying that they were an insult to Britain's armed forces.
Really? How dare labour say the comments of a female MSP are insulting to the forces when they are the party which has been, in my opinion, criminally responsible for not providing our troops with the best equipment and have deployed our soldiers in two unjustified wars.
I know where Ms Grahame is coming from - she's a woman and possibly a mother. She's aware wars are not won with arms but with talk. Although her statistics may be askew, she has been courageous enough to speak out on this issue knowing she would be pilloried by male politicians. The SNP must be commended for permitting freedom of speech on these vital issues - the sign of a healthy political party.
In the past 10 years, through the Iraq war and now Afghanistan, labour women MSPs and MPs have deafened me with their silence. But then they voted for these unjustified wars didn't they?