Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Right to Vote?

In my chats with soldiers it's unusual to find one who is a Labour supporter. There's no surprise for this: if they're in the Army then by defnition they're employed, they don't have a council house, they're patriotic and put themselves on the line for other people.

So there are people questioning if it's any coincidence that despite Parliamentary Questions and assurances from ministers that something will be done to ensure that those serving away from home, particularly in Afghanistan, can vote, it appears that they have been backtracking on this statement in recent weeks.

Service personnel based overseas will generally have insufficient time to receive a postal ballot and return it in time for polling day, and therefore the MOD and Electoral Commission continue to encourage appointing a proxy as the best way to vote.

An additional Service Voting and registration campaign is being run specifically for those who will be in Afghanistan during the forthcoming election period.

However, this scheme will not work for every Service person in Afghanistan and due to the tight electoral timeframe, electoral timeframes and operational priorities, success cannot be guaranteed. Service personnel are therefore still encouraged to register to vote by proxy.

Given that the election was always going to happen before June could there not have been more effort made to ensure that those who are risking their life and limb on the order of politicians can at least have their one in five year opportunity to actually express their opinion?

Or do the government think that given the cluster fuck which is the Labour Party's defence policy it's just best not to ask them?

We had record numbers of lives lost and serious injuries ensuring that the Afghan elections went smoothly and as many civilians could vote. It's a shame that this government don't consider the rights of our soldiers to be able to do the same anywhere near as important...

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