When I go on holiday, I switch off from Twitter. Going on holiday means just that, it means switching off, and instead of obsessing over what’s bubbling in the carp filled pond of Scottish politics, you lie on a beach somewhere sunny or take in the sights of a new city. That’s unless you’re Ruth Davidson. If you’re Ruth you don’t spend your time on holiday lying on a beach and flicking through a photo album of Gillian Anderson in lingerie, you keep an eye on what people are saying about you on Twitter so you can use it to claim that you’re being victimised because you’re unclear on the difference between a functioning democracy and a tinpot dictatorship where politicians are happy to strut about in fancy uniforms.
It’s the first rule in the playbook of power, when you’re powerful and privileged, any criticism of your power and privilege means that you become a victim and you’re being oppressed by those horrible people who’re pointing out that you’re powerful, privileged, and abusing the power and privilege that you enjoy. Poor Ruth, she’s the victim in all this you see.
Despite supposedly being on holiday and spending her time objectifying women in lingerie and posting pics of them on Twitter for the benefit of her male fan boys so that they can objectify women by proxy – because apparently it’s totally PC when a lesbian does it for you – Ruth instead chose to post a thirty five part rant on social media about how unfair it is that she’s being criticised for posing in uniform as the honorary Colonel Boakie of the Signals Regiment. It’s all a cybernat ploy which is being stirred up by that horrible SNP.
Unfortunately for Ruth, some of us don’t need the SNP to tell us why it was wrong for Ruth to have been offered the position of honorary colonel, why it was even more wrong for her to have accepted it, and why it was most wrong of all for her to pose for photos in uniform for her fanboys in the press. Ruth doesn’t get any of this, but then we’re talking about a woman who thought that the whole point of the gay rights campaign was to allow gay people to be reactionary bastards too, so self-awareness, or indeed political awareness, isn’t exactly her strong suit, or rather, uniform.
Honorary colonels aren’t paid. As the title suggests, the rank is honorary, and is generally awarded to people who have some previous connection with the armed forces. Although it has to be said that “previous connection” is sometimes very loosely defined. The purpose of an honorary colonel is to promote the interests of the regiment, and to give it a higher public profile. According to the Army in Scotland’s official facebook page, “The role of Honorary Colonel is an important one. Every Army Reserve unit appoints a public figure to promote and advocate the regiments’ work across the local community. The position usually requires a person well known to the general public and normally have a connection with their unit or the work it does.”
Honorary colonels seem to fall into two broad categories – the chinless wonders and the celebs. Despite the fact that his military career consisted of an unsuccessful and ignominious month in the Royal Marines, Prince Edward appears at public events bedecked in uniform with a chest full of medals by virtue of the fact that he’s an honorary colonel of no less than three British army regiments – an honour that he got because of who his maw is, which is the same reason he’s got all the tin on his chest. And there we were thinking that he’d got all those medals in what must have been a particularly action filled month in the Royal Marines. The rest of his siblings likewise hold a fistful of “honorary” ranks, as do other assorted members of the family and various members of the aristocracy. Then there are the celebs. Celebrities who are honorary colonels include such military experts as Jools Holland, Carole Vorderman, Lorraine Kelly, and Chris Hoy.
The problem here is that Ruth Davidson is not a member of the royal family or the minor aristocracy so beloved of the higher ranks of the armed forces with their sense of entitlement and social privilege a mile wide. Neither is she a celebrity like Lorraine Kelly or Carole Vorderman, despite the fact that Ruth will happily pose for any publicity photo opportunity or take any game show gig that she can get. Ruth Davidson is an elected politician. There is a clear and obvious conflict of interests in offering her a position requiring her to “promote and advocate” on behalf of the armed forces. It blurs the line between politics and the armed forces, which in a democracy can only function if they are under the firm control of democratic institutions and responsible to them.
To be fair, other politicians have accepted the rank of honorary colonel, such as Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle, or Winston Churchill, who became an honorary colonel during the very special and peculiar circumstances of WW2. Mind you, Ruth does like to imagine that she’s fighting a war against evil cybernats. Hoyle is the deputy speaker of the Commons, and so in theory above party politics. Ruth however is very much an active and partisan combatant in political skirmishing.
By offering Ruth Davidson the position of honorary colonel, the officers who made the decision to give her the gig have politicised the role. They have placed an elected politician whose responsibility is to her constituents in the compromising position of being beholden to the army. Worse, according to the Scotsman, the army did so without following the normal procedures and having two candidates. They directly offered the rank to Ruth. That’s a very dangerous thing in a country where there is no written constitution and no clear distinction between the various branches of the government. Serving military officers are perfectly entitled to hold political views in private as private individuals, but they are most certainly not entitled to display their political preferences in public by choosing a Conservative politician for a high profile role.
Ruth meanwhile, was so blinded by the opportunity to pose on a tank, this time actually in uniform, that she leapt at the title offered to her by the Tory boys of the officers’ mess. Her acceptance only displays her lack of thought, and her unsuitability for high office. This is a woman who makes no secret of the fact that she aspires to become First Minister of Scotland, and yet she’s quite happy to place herself in a position where she’s obliged to promote and advocate for the army. By accepting the rank it means that should there be a direct conflict of interests between what’s good for the officers of the regiment, and what’s good for the public as a whole, Ruth is obliged to side with the army. The army should serve the public, Ruth is the public’s representative. By accepting the rank of honorary colonel, Ruth Davidson has made it clear that she serves the army first, and the public only second. That’s the lack of forethought that means Colonel Ruth deserves to be cashiered.
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