Nov 11 2009 by Our Correspondent, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
DOCTOR John Reid has been criticised by constituents for failing to attend the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Airdrie – but then taking his place in the stand for a football match that afternoon.
The Airdrie and Shotts MP was not among the local politicians and dignitaries who gathered at the town’s war memorial for the traditional 11am service and parade.
However, in his capacity as Celtic chairman, he was at Falkirk for the club’s league match which kicked off at 12.45pm.
Gartlea man David Truesdale, whose father was a war veteran, was among the hundreds who watched the annual ceremony and march-past on Alexander Street.
He said: “There was an excellent turnout and a fair amount of dignitaries in attendance, like councillors, the police and fire brigade chiefs and the lord lieutenant.
“Alas, Dr Reid wasn’t there and when I enquired why not, nobody could give me an answer.
“However, when I went home and put on the television there he was sitting at the football.
“I really thought he should have been at the Remembrance Service especially as he was the defence secretary who took us into Afghanistan and some of his younger constituents may well be serving there right now.
“Several other people who I spoke to were upset at the fact that he wasn’t there and it seemed to be a topic of discussion.
“If he was ill or absent for some other good reason, that would be acceptable.
“However, it just seems totally disrespectful not to be there and then to be watching football.”
Plains man James Cassidy was among several constituents who contacted the Advertiser and Dr Reid’s constituency office about the issue.
He said: “Dr Reid should have been there as our MP and as a former defence secretary who was responsible for sending British soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan, yet he wasn't.
“However, since he is stepping down at the next election and no longer needs our vote, his duties as an MP seem to be taking a back seat.”
A spokesperson for the Airdrie and Shotts representative said: “Dr Reid has traditionally attended the national service at the Cenotaph in London, but this year was unable to do so as he was travelling.
“However, he always observes the remembrance and broke his journey on Sunday to observe the two-minute silence at precisely 11am.”