Sunday, August 01, 2021

Two and a half years ahead of the Scottish constitutional referendum which is expected to be held in the autumn of 2014, the British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) is already working on the implications for service personnel.

The membership of the British Armed Forces Federation is drawn from personnel from all three services from across the United Kingdom, as well as those from elsewhere in the Commonwealth. (No referendum vote for citizens of overseas Commonwealth countries, except Malta and Cyprus.)

There will be BAFF serving members and veterans on both sides of the vote - not forgetting the majority with no vote at all.

In line with its proven track record for impartially promoting electoral participation by service personnel, BAFF has already responded to both the UK Government's consultation and the devolved Scottish Government's consultation on the administration and conduct of the referendum.

We will continue to work on electoral participation issues, and we stand ready as in the 2010 General Election to work with Government, the Electoral Commission, electoral administrators, the Ministry of Defence and the three Service Family Federations.

We are also, as ever, ready to respond to enquiries from any MPs or MSPs.

From selection to pensions to terms and conditions of service, a vote for independence/separation would clearly have implications for armed forces personnel, as much as anybody.

It must be stressed that in promoting the case for personnel in any future Scottish defence force being granted the right of association and representation, BAFF is neither taking sides in the referendum debate, nor predicting any particular outcome. We already have exactly the same objective for the UK armed forces.

While promoting awareness of and participation in the referendum when the time comes, BAFF will as always support military cohesion, encourage mutual respect, and discourage divisiveness - including divisiveness between those voting, and the majority which has no vote.

There are already signs of boredom or impatience with the issue amongst those who will not have a vote on Scottish independence. It would not be surprising if such factors were to increase in the general community over the next two and a half years. Hence BAFF's view in our consultation responses that the referendum should be held sooner rather than later.

Above all, BAFF will promote the principle that a vote either way in the referendum is neither disloyal nor unpatriotic.