Monday, 2 November 2009

Let MSP's Remember Them and How Fortunate They Are

This Blog doesn't often do requests though Subrosa did raise this point with me earlier today. She herself has blogged 0n the subject of the Scottish Parliament's Corporate Board (SPCB) allowing MSPs to claim the cost of Poppy Wreaths that they lay.

I suspect from the history of Subrosa's posts I assume that she like me comes from some line of military involvement. The last occasion I laid a wreath personally was on behalf our our Boy's Brigade Company on the same morning as the Enniskillen bombing.

There are two points of view to take on this, on the one hand is Jeff's take on this that the MSPs are laying the wreath on behalf of the population of all their constituents. On the other is the one that Subrosa herself takes that on the salary that MSPs earn there is more than enough money to pay for the basic poppy wreath at £16 for however many ceremonies they are capable to attend throughout the year. (Not all remembrance services occur on Remembrance Sunday some memorials relate to certain conflicts, battles etc and have ceremonies to match). The war memorial back home for example also marks the Battle of the Somme, and in the hills above Bathgate is the Korean War Memorial as just two examples.

So is essence what Jeff is saying that if a MP is asked to lay a wreath at a School, War Memorial, Hospital or whatever other public location he or she may be called upon to lay a wreath it is a civic duty. Looking at the uniformity with which our BBC newsreaders an presenters receive their pristine poppy's provided by the wardrobe department before going on, a bit like a Blue Peter badge. It doesn't show a personal commitment or affiliation to the Earl Haig Fund, or the Scottish Poppy Appeal.

Having gone wreath in hand, stood in silence, marched forward placed the wreath on behalf of fallen Old Boys of the Company, I would tend to side with Subrosa in this situation. The reason being is the many widows, former soldiers, or other family members who also lay their own wreath. Many of these are paid for out of a widow or army pension where £16 goes a lot further than from an MSPs salary.

My personal view is that if elected I would continue to attend remembrance services either at the war memorials or in the churches, but the costs for the wreaths I laid would come from my own pocket. My constituents who wish to honour the fallen will have already given what they can afford to wear their own poppy, I'm not not going to take any more of their money even if it is just a fraction of a penny from each to pay for my act of remembrance, even if I am a civic representative. For years part of my subs as a boy and officer went towards that wreath laid for the fallen of 4th Bangor Company.

I was actually quite proud that on meeting Ruaraidh Dobson and Kieran Leach on Haymarket's platform on Saturday one of the first things they asked was 'is it the time to wear a poppy?' it prompted me to donate to my third of the year (I always have a workday one and one for the acts of remembrance fresh and unsullied) since I was wearing the wrong coat. The next generation after me is sadly as aware of war as the one above me was. We shall remember them as those that come after us seem to be going to do with their own.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon from For the Fallen


  1. I have no problem with wreaths being laid at public expense on behalf of constituents.

    But it must be clear that this is what it is for, not on behalf of a MSP claiming it back, not in the name of a political party.

  2. Like Jess I have no problem with politicians laying wreaths throughout the year when requested by constituents.

    I do have a problem however, with them claiming for Remembrance Day wreaths. Many military families are denied a chance to lay a wreath at ceremonies because, either the area is too small for the public to be admitted, or the occasion is only for the great and the good.

    The British Legion would help in such matters, but which Mum or brother would want to be singled out, especially if frail veterans are in the public group?

    Many military officers pay for their own wreaths, whether they're laying one or ten. What's so special about MSPs?

    The SNP are saying none of their MSPs will be claiming for wreaths, but I'd like that taken a step further. I'll do a post later about that.

    There's also the problem question of morals. Would putting this on the statute book be the return of MSPs claiming for plants, tissues, wellies if it's wet?

    Thank you Stephen for writing the post.