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Our Man in Westminster: Important Gibraltar trip marred by false claims says MP Drew Hendry who argues politicians must do all they can to 'learn more about our current service personnel’s challenges'

By Andrew Dixon

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Drew Hendry during his visit to Gibraltar.
Drew Hendry during his visit to Gibraltar.

Given the military tradition here in the Highlands, Remembrance Sunday has always been significant and poignant.

During the many ceremonies I have attended, I have been privileged to chat with many armed forces personnel and veterans about their experiences. It is always an honour to spend time reflecting on their sacrifice and that of their fallen comrades, acknowledging everything they and their families have endured in service to us all.

There are probably no veterans of World War I left now, but the heartbreaking stories of the horrors they faced in the trenches remain with us. As the poet Wilfred Owen wrote in 1918: “Gas! Gas! Quick boys! – an ecstasy of fumbling, Fitting the helmets just in time; But someone was still yelling out and stumbling, And flound’ring lime a man in fire or lime...” those lines are haunting – and they should be.

As time marches on, living veterans of World War II are also diminishing. They, too, had horrific, inhumane struggles, often performing unthinkable heroics while facing shortages of equipment or support.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of the justifications or wisdom of government orders, service personnel have selflessly risked their lives facing ever more sophisticated opportunist threats, again, sometimes accompanied by substandard equipment and supplies.

Regardless, they carried out their orders and did their duty, as did comrades, injured or killed in other conflict theatres or maintaining peacetime activities. Each and every one of them deserves our thanks and thoughts.

In addition to attending this year’s remembrance event in Inverness, as part of a parliamentary delegation I was given the opportunity to visit Gibraltar to learn about the current pressures and operations affecting our service personnel there and attended a very poignant Armistice Day event at the Royal Navy base.

As politicians, we must do all we can to understand what we can and learn more about our current service personnel’s challenges and the vital role they all play in keeping us all safe.

It may not have escaped your attention that, while there, I was subject to some highly false accusations regarding my conduct. These claims are untrue. It is disappointing that other politicians chose this particular cross-party visit to politicise what was, otherwise, a very important, intensive and informative experience.

I will leave that to their own consciences, and I will continue to engage with our serving men and women and our veterans and to thank them for their current and past sacrifices.

Related Story – MP Drew Hendry lashes out at 'false claims' that he got drunk with other MPs on a flight to visit troops in Gibraltar as 'a shameless attempt to divert attention from the Tory corruption scandal engulfing Westminster'

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