With voting now under way, we are putting back on the front page the British Armed Forces Federation plan for the Scottish Independence Referendum. The plan was first published here for comment on 6 June 2012. All comments received from members were taken into account and some changes and additions made. The draft was approved by the BAFF Executive Council and thereafter endorsed by the 2013 AGM.
BAFF TEN POINT PLAN FOR A REFERENDUM ON SCOTLAND'S CONSTITUTIONAL FUTURE
1. The British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) exists "To represent, promote and protect the professional, welfare, and other legitimate interests of all members of the Federation in their capacity as serving or retired personnel of the armed forces of the United Kingdom."
2. Along with our focuses on Westminster and Whitehall, BAFF already takes a close interest in and has helped to raise awareness of the activiities of the devolved administrations, where they affect the interests of our members, in their capacities as present or former service personnel.
3. BAFF already has a proven track record for the impartial promotion of electoral registration and participation amongst members of the service community, so that they can make their own voting choices. We will take the same principled approach to any lawful referendum on Scotland's constitutional future.
4. As with our work in connection with previous elections, impartiality does not preclude normal liaison with political parties and campaigns which are recognised by the Electoral Commission, or the provision of information, and contributions to relevant discussions, on matters relevant to our members.
5. Any major constitutional changes following a referendum would call more than ever for effective independent representation for armed forces personnel, responsive to their needs and wishes and working constructively with government institutions, the chain of command, and any relevant stakeholders.
6. BAFF will advance the principles of full recognition of the right of association for the personnel of an independent Scotland's defence forces, and the establishment of a fully independent ombudsman institution for such personnel, in full implementation of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers' Recommendation CM/Rec(2010(4) on the human rights of armed forces personnel.
7. In promoting these principles, BAFF is neither taking sides in the referendum debate, nor anticipating any particular outcome. BAFF already actively promotes the same principles in relation to the present UK armed forces. While encouraging informed debate about the defence of an independent Scotland, BAFF does not itself take a view on operational, strategic or political matters.
8. In the event of any referendum outcome which is likely to affect service personnel, BAFF will give all appropriate constructive cooperation in the process of transition, in the interests of our members.
9. 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 entitled to vote, and the majority which has no vote in this referendum.
10. A personal decision to vote either way in a lawful, properly authorised constitutional referendum can be neither disloyal , nor unpatriotic.