They dont make MPs for North Down like this anymore. Constitutional expert Vernon Bogadanor warns retired former Defence chief Lord Guthrie against becoming a political general like Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, who retired as Army chief in Feb 1922 and became Unionist MP for North Down the following month. Assassins suspected of being agents of Michael Collins cut him down on his doorstep three months later.
Before 1914, Major-General Henry Wilson, Director of Military Operations at the War Office, sought to sabotage the Liberal Governments policy of Irish Home Rule by providing the Conservative Opposition with details of confidential ministerial discussions. Some serving officers declared that they would refuse to obey orders if the Government sought to move against illegal arms depots in Ulster
Wilson’s latest biographer Prof Keith Jeffrey of Queens records that he resumed his championship of the Unionist cause after the war when..
he became an MP and was chief security adviser to the new Northern Ireland government. As such, he became a target for nationalist Irish militants, being identified with the security policies of the Belfast regime, though wrongly with Protestant sectarian attacks on Catholics. He is remembered today in unionist Northern Ireland as a kind of founding martyr for the state.
Browns claims of ever rising Defence budgets may be controversial but the verdict of Bogdanor ( who was Camerons political tutor at Oxford btw) is definitive.
Lord Guthries remark that not fully funding the Army … undoubtedly cost the lives of soldiers, blaming Gordon Brown for loss of life because of decisions made when he was Chancellor, hardly falls within that category ( of criticising in calm and measured tones). It is unseemly to use the deaths of soldiers in Afghanistan as the basis for a personal attack upon the Prime Minister.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London