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Rally to Save Scottish Regiments

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Hundreds of people have joined forces in Dundee to voice their opposition to plans aimed at merging Scotland's regiments.

The show of strength comes just two days after ministers confirmed soldiers from the Black Watch would move from Basra to an area closer to Baghdad.

The rally at Camperdown Park on Saturday has been organised by the Save the Scottish Regiments Campaign.

Troops' families and former soldiers will join the demonstration.

Objectors are opposed to plans to merge the Royal Scots and the King's Own Scottish Borderers into a single battalion.

Under the proposals from the Council of Scottish Colonels, it would become part of a single large regiment of five battalions.

Get your hands off our regiments

Peter Duncan MP

Shadow Scottish Secretary

Critics are concerned the move will mean the Scottish regiments' historic identities will be lost.

Save the Scottish Regiments protesters are planning to field candidates against Labour at the next general election.

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Menzies Campbell and Shadow Scottish Secretary Peter Duncan will be among voices from all political parties lending support to the Dundee protest.

Mr Duncan, Scotland's only Conservative MP, is expected to endorse the pledge by party leader Michael Howard to reinstate the regiments in the first week of a Tory government.

He is set to tell the rally: "We are all here for the same reason. We are brought together from different political backgrounds, and different areas of the country.

"United for the common goal of giving a simple message to Tony Blair, Geoff Hoon and Alistair Darling: get your hands off our regiments."

Critics fear the sun will go down on one Scottish regiment

Mr Duncan is expected to add: "If the government had set out to choose the most inappropriate, ill-informed and frankly insane time to cut our armed forces, they could scarcely have chosen a better time than right now.

"We live in a very uncertain time; in a very uncertain world. If there is ever a time to reduce the size of our armed forces, this is not it."

Campaigners said at the time that the recommendation confirmed their worst fears.

The proposals from the Council of Scottish Colonels are being passed to the Army board, but remain a recommendation until they secure ministerial approval.

Families 'distressed'

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon announced in July that one Scottish battalion would be disbanded as part of the defence spending review.

The number of infantry regiments in the UK as a whole will be cut from 40 to 36.

A final announcement will be made before Christmas, with the changes due to come into force by 2008.

Meanwhile, the father of a Black Watch soldier has criticised the government's handling of the redeployment issue.

Gordon Stacey said the troops and their families had been treated poorly.

He said: "The way this has been handled is a joke.

"For the government to leave it until the last moment is ridiculous. They've not just upset the soldiers, they've distressed the families in the UK."


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Why is it that the Scottish, an ethnic minority in Britain, are the ones being sent to the more dangerous parts of Iraq, rather than any of the units of the ethnic majority. Just chosen at random maybe? Yeah… right… rolleyes.gif

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