We may not have forces fighting in Iraq any more, but there are still more than 10,000 UK troops serving in Afghanistan and many more on other bases around the world. With a General Election due in the next six months, I believe that this country owes it to our soldiers, sailors and airmen to make sure that they have a real opportunity to vote in that election.
That means two things. Firstly, the Government needs to ensure that everyone who wears the British uniform is allowed to vote. According to the MOD, as of 05/11/09 there were 5,119 service personnel not eligible to vote at the next General Election as they are not British, Commonwealth or Irish Citizens. This includes 4,143 Ghurkhas and 928 service personnel with ‘No Nationality Recorded’ (which is a bit worrying in itself).
Secondly, the Government must take action to make sure that UK forces overseas have a real opportunity to vote. The only way that they can currently vote is appoint someone else to vote on their behalf - a proxy. But how may actually do so? I believe that the law should be changed so that our forces overseas can vote in person. But in the meantime, the MOD should have a special recruitment drive to make sure that every member of the armed forces overseas appoints a proxy.
The UK armed forces dominate political discussion week after week and will surely do so at the general election. Surely they should be able to have their say.
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