This article is from the July issue of Total Politics
As readers of Total Politics may be aware, a recent row has broken out after the government announced the possible end of Scotland’s historic regiments and battalions. My piece of historical memorabilia is a photograph of my grandfather’s grave in Gibraltar, where he died on 22 November 1941, aged 35.
Hugh Macdonald was born in 1906 in Inverness. His mother died when he was an infant and he was moved to Dundee and brought up in care. By 1938 he was a baker, married with six children. Unemployment loomed and he joined the 4th and 5th Territorial Army Battalion of the Black Watch.
He was called up on the outbreak of war and was one of the many thousands of armed forces personnel who were evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940. In fact his primary concern following the evacuation was the fact that he had lost his clarinet, which he was proud to play as part of black watch regimental band.
He died while serving with the Black Watch. Though the government have seemingly stepped back from their commitment to axe the traditional identities of our battalions, it reminds me that in politics too often the personal touch is lost.
Feelings run high among my constituents, who like me have relatives who have served and indeed are currently serving with the Black Watch. The government’s zealousness for cuts and reform meant that they failed to see that personal connection, and failed to see that often the personal is political.
While formulating their cuts and reforms they must understand the human impact of those cuts. Politics must be about people, and spreadsheets and balances must come second to that.
Jim McGovern is the Labour MP for Dundee West