One of the questions I haven’t seen asked in connection with what would happen to the British military if Scotland gets independence is who will run the defence forces. Plenty of questions about the nuclear submarine base at Faslane and even would the Scottish infantry regiments get their old names back. But looking at the biographies of the officers appointed to the Royal Regiment of Scotland, I can’t help noticing how that about half of them are young Englishmen; often products of private schools. So, in an independent Scotland, where will the army officers come from? The British Army obviously doesn’t think there are enough Scots boys with brains to meet the requirements needed to be an officer in the RRoS. What if it’s right?
I think one guy from my high school became an officer in the old Queen’s Own Highlanders. I suspect if I’d gone to a private school such as Ampleforth in Yorkshire, a whole battalion’s worth of former classmates would have become officers. And certainly, when I had dealings with junior officers from the Highland regiments in my younger days, they all had English accents (though admittedly several of the Scottish private schools teach their pupils to speak with English accents).
A book I was reading recently suggested there was a degree of unease and distrust between the last Labour government and the Army. Scots were over-represented in senior government posts at the time, and sometimes that was for legitimate reasons. But perhaps the distrust and unease came from the fact that none of the Scottish Labour MPs had ever known anyone who was or became an officer in the British Army.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there are no Scottish officers in the British Army, and not all of those Scots selected went to private schools. What I am saying is that there might be a problem finding enough qualified men to run even a small defence force in an independent Scotland.