AN SNP youth leader has claimed the army recruits in Scotland by “preying on poverty and desperation”.
Rory Steel – vice convenor of SNP Youth and parliamentary assistant to Marion Fellows MP – made the controversial statement in website article.
The piece on the SNP Youth website – “Young and desperate? I want you to fight my wars” – claims that the MOD uses seductive advertising to “prey” on young people in poverty.
Mr Steel also takes the chance to back statements made recently by a senior SNP official, claiming that recruitment drives for the cadet forces in poor areas are “cannon fodder schemes”.
His remarks have been condemned by veterans, who have called the comments “despicable”.
The article, published on Monday, states: “With an uncertain future and minimal opportunities for young people comes poverty and desperation.
“Any prospect of leaving ‘here’ can seem appealing. It is these feelings that the MOD has often preyed on and sought to exploit.
“There are a number of adverts from the MOD that are seductively employed to recruit people – youths in particular – to join the armed forces with promises of adventure and lifelong skills.
“What the MOD does not show you is the horrors of war: your dead brothers and sisters in arms or the disfigured civilians in the street.”
“They would rather glamorise war to entice fresh-faced recruits with no welfare safety net or opportunity, but with an uncertain future.”
He went on: “This is just weeks after a leaked correspondence showed a UK Defence Minister, Julian Brazier, urging the Scottish Government to open cadet units in Scottish schools, prioritising the most deprived areas.
“A senior SNP spokesperson described the plans as a “cannon fodder scheme” – and rightfully so.”
The comment Mr Steel refers to was made by a senior SNP source and was quoted recently in a Sunday newspaper.
Nicola Sturgeon herself disowned the comment, saying it was “a phrase that should not be used as it characterises our armed forces in a way we do not agree with”.
Speaking about the repeat of the “cannon fodder” remark, Murdo Fraser – Scottish Conservative MSP – said SNP “top brass should have got to the bottom of this the first time round.
“The remark is not only deeply offensive to the British Army but it is also disrespectful to those who have fought in battles to keep the UK safe.
“Once again this brings to light the SNP’s shoddy vetting process.”
Major Ronnie Proctor – a trustee of the Black Watch charity which helps those who served in the regiment – said it was “despicable to described any of the cadet forces in that way.
He added: “These organisations give youngsters a chance to develop their character to become good citizens and a lot of cadets do not join the armed forces.
Speaking of his own time in the cadets, he went on: “It taught me self-reliance and gave me self-confidence.
“Statements like these denigrate and insult all those who have served in the armed forces and are currently serving. I feel quite offended by that..”
A spokesman for the SNP said: “We do not agree with the use of this phrase, and we’ve made that clear.
“Our armed forces do important and often dangerous jobs, and they have our full support.”
Reacting to Mr Steel backing the “cannon fodder” statement, an MOD spokesperson said: “The rich leadership and development opportunities offered in the cadets, which are quite separate from recruitment into the Armed Forces, speak for themselves.”
Mr Steel could not be contacted for comment.