John Baron MP secures Commons backing in his campaign to save the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
By Peter Hoskin
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Protests seldom occur in step to a marching beat — but that was exactly what happened when veterans of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers paraded down Whitehall today. There is video footage here; the photo above is taken from Manchester Evening News website.
They were there not just to protest against the government’s decision to disband their Regiment in 2014, but also to witness the latest, most significant, stage in a political process led by the Tory MP John Baron. He — along with the Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, Jonathan Reynolds, and former Dennis Laverick — presented a petition of 8,000 signatures to Downing Street. And it was Mr Baron who was behind a parliamentary motion urging the government to reconsider this particular cut. That motion was passed by 57 votes to three, although it is non-binding.
The campaign to save the 2RRF is amongst the most high profile of its sort, not least because it has the backing of the Manchester Evening News. Yet despite that, and despite the political pressure that today’s motion represents, there’s little sign of the MoD shifting its position on this, or for any of the 16 other Army units picked out for disbandment over the next few years. In fact, it was an Army spokesman who today responded to Mr Baron’s suggestion that a “poorly recruited Scottish battalion” might have been chosen instead. “To suggest decisions were taken on recruitment performance alone,” that spokesman said, “is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Army's process.”
Still, it’s a preview of what the Government might face, with increasing ferocity, as the cuts come closer. And it ought to remind them that, if they are to build an Army that’s more reliant on reservists, then much more needs to be done to encourage people to sign up.