Sunday, July 21, 2024

BAFF member Douglas Young's paper Silence in the Ranks was produced on behalf of the 2005 Service Voting campaign, and helped to bring about important changes to electoral legislation and official attitudes affecting service personnel and their partners.

Young was also a member of the Service Voting Working Group formed by the Ministry of Justice for the 2010 General Election. The Working Group supported, as being the best which could be put in place in time for the General Election, special arrangements for electoral registration and voting by deployed personnel in Afghanistan.

Several founding members of the British Armed Forces Federation had been instrumental in the politically-neutral campaign to encourage Forces personnel and their families to register and vote in the 2005 General Election. The campaign was centred on the unofficial 'Army Rumour Service' website, which continues to carry news, information and debate about service voting - often contributed by BAFF.

Influence on the movement for establishment of a recognised Armed Forces Federation

While we wouldn't claim that every supporter of the service voting campaign necessarily agreed with the Armed Forces Federation concept, the campaign was significant in showing how a wide range of service personnel of different ranks and experiences could work together on a responsible, innovative and effective campaign.

'Silence in the Ranks' concluded:

We would be happy also to contribute to a wider debate about the representation of the armed forces community and its relationship with the democratic system.

The service voting campaign in Parliament

House of Lords debates, 26 May 2005 - Electoral System - speech by Lord Garden:

There was one beacon of light in all this: there was an unofficial, if somewhat irreverent, website called the "Army Rumour Service", where volunteers posted information to encourage servicemen to register to vote and to get out and vote. This was done in a totally non-partisan way, and links were made to all the electoral registration offices so that registering could be done on a voluntary basis. That is the kind of thing that the MOD should have been doing.

House of Lords debates, 7 June 2006 - Electoral Administration Bill - speech by Lord Garden:

The real hero, however, has been a retired Army officer called Douglas Young, the author of a report called Silence in the Ranks. He used the power of the internet through the Army Rumour Service network to identify the scale of the problem, and he gave helpful advice to servicemen and servicewomen on that website, so we got a better response in 2005 than we would have done otherwise. He also spotted errors in the official information on MOD and local authority websites, and he mounted the campaign to right what we have all agreed is a wrong. The chain of command has not come out of this with distinction, having shown a reluctance to tackle the problem. It is perhaps scarcely surprising that this week has also seen the launch of the British Armed Forces Federation.

The Independent - Obituaries (Aug 2007) - Air Marshal Lord Garden:

His great legacy is the Electoral Administration Bill, for which he secured cross-party support to overcome, in the face of dogged Ministry of Defence opposition, the problems of registration and voting for members of the armed forces and their partners.

Download 'Silence in the Ranks'

House of Commons Library reference

This document has had several updates; in the above edition the part dealing with the Army Rumour Service campaign and the 'Silence in the Ranks' paper is at pages 16-17.

More external links (as accessed 2010)