General Election 2015: View the RUSI/Forces TV Defence Debate
For those who missed it, today's General Election Debate hosted by Forces TV and the Royal United Service Institution is now available to view online here:
The debate covered hot issues like defence spending, new overseas threats, the Trident nuclear programme, veterans' welfare and the recruitment of reservists.
The debate was chaired by Kate Gerbeau with expert analysis from RUSI's Professor Michael Clarke.
Speaking for the Conservatives was Mark Francois, the current Minister for the Armed Forces and a former Royal Anglian Regiment reservist. For Labour, Ian Lucas, a Shadow Minister and spokesman for the Middle East and Africa. For the Liberal Democrats, Sir Bob Russell, a leading member of the Defence Select Committee in the last Parliament. The SNP was represented by Keith Brown, MSP a former Veterans Minister and Royal Marine. UKIP was represented by their Deputy Chairman, Suzanne Evans.
Points from the floor included a question from former DSACEUR General Sir Richard Shirreff about politicians' loss of credibility in the eyes of the armed forces.
Professor Clark suggested that with respect to Gen Shirreff, the problem was not just with politicians but with senior officers as well:
The boys and girls on the ground will put up with anything if they feel they are a bunch of winners.
There was also a point from Army Families Federation Chief Executive Catherine Spencer about "ever-decreasing pay packets", and reduced pensions for new entrants under AFPS 2015. Catherine also mentioned that the armed forces can't take industrial action. BAFF has always recognised the important role of the three family federations, has worked with them over electoral participation, and sees their increasing involvement in issues affecting single personnel as further evidence of the need for recognition of the right of representation.
At the end of the debate there is a package of contributions from Elfyn Llwyd of Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party's Home Affairs Spokesman and a former RAF Engineering Officer, Darren Hall. Finally there are contributions from the Democratic Unionist Party's Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds, and from some of the other Northern Ireland parties.
BAFF political neutrality
The British Armed Forces Federation's politically neutrality is hard-wired into its Constitution. BAFF remains available for consultation by any registered political parties or candidates. BAFF members and those in the wider armed forces community will, as ever, make up their own minds on who to entrust with their vote.
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