Further to BAFF's recent good news about Lib Dem support for the right of representation for ordinary personnel, more detail has now emerged from a BFBS ForcesNews interview with former defence minister Sir Nick Harvey MP.
In the interview, ForcesNews' James Hirst asks Sir Nick whether the policy on allowing troops' representation by a professional federation "will make it into the manifesto" for the next General Election.
The MP, who is a former Armed Forces Minister as well as a member of the House of Commons Committee considering the Defence Reform Bill, replies to the effect that he does expect representation to be included in the party's Defence Manifesto. His party has supported the right of representation for a number of years.
James Hirst then asks why in that case the Lib Dems have failed to bring about acceptance of the right of representation while they have been in power in the present Government. The MP replies to the effect that in the coalition his party were not in a position to make that particular policy prevail. Sir Nick adds that "We really don't understand what the problem is here."
Watch the ForcesNews video:
- The BFBS report correctly mentions that representation would be "without the right to strike". The point was no doubt added to the Lib Dem policy paper to pre-empt any possible misunderstanding on this issue. Anyone who has been following this will know, however, that there has never been any question of industrial action in the armed forces of any European country which recognises the right of representation/right of association for its armed forces personnel. Does anyone honestly believe that British service personnel would even want to go on strike, when their "European" counterparts have never done so?
- While encouraging electoral participation by armed forces personnel, the British Armed Forces Federation has (of course) no party political affiliation and is always willing to engage constructively with any serious political party over matters affecting armed forces personnel. BAFF has already cooperated successfully over particular issues with members of all major political parties - including the Labour Party and the Conservative Party.
- BAFF congratulates the Liberal Democrats on this latest development of their longstanding support for the right of representation for British service personnel.