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By Peter Hoskin
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2RRF

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.

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