Scandal of British soldiers in Iraq robbed of their General
Election vote -while they are explaining to Iraqi people the meaning of
Political Correspondent Graeme Wilson
Friday, April 15, 2005
of a say
in the election
Tens of thousands of service personnel have been denied
their right to vote in the General Election.
They have risked their
lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, but were disenfranchised by a controversial new
system for registering service voters.
Delays by the Ministry
of Defence meant many received leaflets explaining the system only a day or two
before the March 11 deadline to register to vote this year.
The impact is
graphically illustrated by figures from the voting watchdog, the Electoral Commission. They reveal there were 140,000
service voters registered in England and Wales in 2002. A year later, however,
the figure had slumped to 49,000.
Conservatives last night
accused Labour of staggering complacency for brushing aside repeated warnings
about the crisis.
They claimed ministers
failed to act because members of the Armed Forces are likely to vote against
Labour in protest at the spin, which took Britain to war in Iraq. There is deep resentment about the cull of
spokesman Andrew Robathan visited Iraq in January and was shocked to find four
out of five troops he met had not registered to vote.
‘This is just another
weapon for the Labour Party to deny the vote to Service voters, many of whom
will probably be Conservative supporters,’ he said.
IN the past, soldiers
simply registered as a Service voter when they joined up and remained on the
register until they left.
Under the new system
introduced in 2001, however, they have to re-register as a Service voter every
year or lose their vote - a logistical nightmare when half the Army is
currently serving overseas. They can
also using the normal registration system for the rest of the population.
However, the Ministry of
Defence failed to publicise the changes -meaning thousands of Service personnel
were unaware they had to register this year if they wanted to vote.
There are currently just over 202,000 Service personnel
of whom 195,000 are over 18 and
eligible to vote. The rule changes have also caught out military
personnel who appoint their parents or other close relatives to vote for them
by proxy -an option which many prefer because of unpredictable foreign travel.
Forms appointing proxy
voters now have to be filled out every year, but letters explaining the change
were sent by local authorities to the last military base where the voter was
known to live -even though such addresses could be years out of date.
Concerns about the
system were raised last autumn but the MoD did not launch an ‘awareness
campaign’ until January 28-2005.
At its core was a
leaflet-produced by the Electoral Commission -which told servicemen and women
how to register.
The Commission delivered
110,000 leaflets to the MoD on February 4.
A spokesman said: ‘We understand that they would be turned round and
sent out within a few days.
the MoD admitted yesterday it was another two weeks before all the leaflets had
been despatched. -and it can take up to two weeks for mail to reach troops in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
Government tried to play down the importance of the leaflets yesterday, with the MoD insisting it
was only ‘one part of a wider awareness campaign’, which included adverts on
the Electoral Commission disagreed.
leaflet was one of the key elements of the campaign,’ said a spokesman.
Senior Tory backbencher Peter Viggers, the Electoral
Commission’s official representative in the Commons, revealed yesterday that
there were 4,700 Service voters registered in his Gosport constituency in
2000. By last year, the figure had
plummeted to 470.
A similar fall was discovered by Tory MP for Chichester
Andrew Tyrie, who found that the number of service voters in his constituency
had fallen from 483 to 22 over the last five years.
Last night the mother of an RAF flight engineer serving in
the Gulf told the Daily Mail how he had phoned her in anger at the poll
I was ordered to go and fight an illegal war and put my life on the line on a
daily basis, and now I can’t even vote against the Government that sent me.”
‘He would have voted Tory.’
And an Army sergeant just returned to Germany after a tour
in Iraq said that he had no time to fill in his form when it arrived. ‘there were bombs and shootings going
off. It was exhausting. When I got
back here a few weeks ago it was too late. I would have voted Conservative. - certainly not Labour. That probably goes for most of the forces.’
revelations come amid the growing scandal over postal vote fraud, which already
has led to the conviction of a string of Labour councillors.
The Tories last night claimed Labour has a track record of
trying to prevent likely Conservatives from voting. They
pointed to the Government’s drive to cut the number of years a British citizen
can live abroad and still register to vote from 20 to 15.
Conservatives claim the move discriminates against their
supporters among more than two million expats.
[Font altered-bolding &
underlining used-comments in brackets]
[Well! the only way to redress the wrong done to the Armed
Forces abroad is for a newspaper to arrange for an Independent body to which
the many voters who had not considered voting or have never voted to arrange
for them to vote one for one for those cheated out of their vote abroad in Iraq,
Afghanistan the Balkans and elsewhere.
A disenfranchised Serviceman abroad would give his preference
to the Independent body appointed by the newspaper- with his political party
choice and receive in turn a number and they would at the same take up details
of those who have contacted them who now intend to vote in order to redress the
balance of the injustice done to the troops abroad.
The person who has decided to vote would have to be on the
register. It would be taken on trust that the particular individual had not
previously intended to vote.
The details of the proxy voter -as such -would not be
given out by the independent body appointed by the newspaper
It would simply be a question of a number to each
The disenfranchised voter would have the satisfaction that
though he could not vote at least someone who had not considered voting would
now do so to redress the wrong.
Possibly it could be made much simpler by the newspaper
simply asking those who have not voted over the last few elections to for once
consider the gross injustice done to our brave servicemen and women risking
their lives abroad and ask the person concerned to simply give the constituency
in which they will vote.
As there are election statistics available for each
polling area it should be possible to see after the election whether indeed the
promises were fulfilled.
The result of this exercise
in justice will be that more citizens will become voters, which is good for
democracy at the same time a great wrong will be rectified.
In the words of a President of the United States Theodore
‘A man who is good enough to
shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal
afterwards. More than that no man is
entitled to, and less than that no man shall have.’
Springfield , Illinois, 4th June 1903.)
We ask Tony
Blair to answer the charge against him by quoting a further saying
of the President.
‘No man is justified in doing
ground of expediency’
No serviceman or women
should be deprived of their right to vote.
Their pay book is their authority and the rest should be left to the unit
commanders and the Ministry of Defence to ensure that our troops are not having
to consider such matters when their prime responsibility is to defend our
* * *
So it comes to this: any Tom Dick or Harry in Britain can
get hold of illicit postal votes by the bucketful, but our soldiers have been
cynically dis enfranchised.
that they are prepared to risk their lives in the cause of bringing democracy
to Third World dictatorships. Forget
that some have been wounded in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans and other
theatres of war and that many have seen their comrades killed.
Government so blithely sends them into action at the drop of a hat - in one
case on the basis of a pack of lies - is denying tens of thousands of them the
chance to vote, because of the gross incompetence of a new registration system.
smell of something rotten is overpowering.
Was this shambles just the result of an official blunder? Or is it another squalid New Labour
manoeuvre to rig the results on May 5 by ensuring that members of the military-many
of whom have seen their regiments destroyed and might be presumed to be voting
Conservative -don’t get near a ballot paper?
Government doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. It is frantically
promoting a postal voting system elsewhere in Britain that it knows is wide
open to fraud that it has been forced to announce major changes - but only when
the election is safely out of the way.
the meantime, it expects to benefit from a postal vote fiasco that in the words
of Judge Richard Mawrey is reminiscent of a ‘banana republic’.
then New Labour will do anything to hang on to power, even if it means leaving
the door wide open to election crooks and dragging the integrity of our
democratic process into the gutter.
* * *
So You Want Out Of The EU
THEN WHY NOT SIGN THE
RENUNCIATION of EU CITIZENSHIP
Details from petition creator
With the signing of the Maastricht Treaty the
people of Britain were given
EUROPEAN and BRITISH
The extra tier of citizenship was thrust upon
the people without their consent -and in many cases knowledge.
The PEOPLE of GREAT BRITAIN should be allowed
the option of opting out of the EUROPEAN CITIZENSHIP if they so wish. The
GOVERNMENT will then be able to provide those who have opted out with
-only such as British (not EU) passports,
driving licences and other national documents.
EU laws will also NOT APPLY to those who
HAVE OPTED OUT OF EUROPEAN CITIZENSHIP
Let the people speak!
[Latest Addition - June07]
Daniel Hannan - Forming an OPPOSITION to the EU
GORDON BROWN WANTS TRUST-BUT WHY
WON'T HE TRUST YOU?
HELL ON EARTH
want powers back from EU-ICM poll-June 21-2007-95%
of British people want a REFERENDUM
SIGN TODAY ON LINE
JOIN THE 10 DOWNING STREET PROTEST
Readers can add their support to the growing clamour for a
REFERENDUM on the '"REFORM TREATY" by signing up to a 10 Downing Street 0n-line
The Petition reads as follows:
the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to guarantee that the British people
will be permitted a binding REFERENDUM on any and all attempts to resurrect the
EU " CONSTITUTION" (and any or all of its content) regardless of nomenclature."
Deadline for the PETITION is 31st January,2008
Eurofacts 27th July 2007.
'The Spirit of
In London on St.George's Day -1953
WITH THE ONLY PARTY WITH A MANDATE
TO SET YOU
THE QUESTION THAT THE VOTER MUST
YOU WISH TO BE GOVERNED BY YOUR OWN PEOPLE, LAW AND CUSTOM OR BY THE CORRUPT
,EXPENSIVE UNACCOUNTABLE AND CORRUPT ALIEN BUSYBODY BRUSSELS’
-SIMPLE IS IT NOT?
TO RECLAIM YOUR DEMOCRACY DON'T VOTE FOR THE
TRIPARTITE PARTIES IN WESTMINSTER
SMALL PARTIES THAT SPEAK THEIR MINDS
WITHOUT SPIN AND LIES.
AWAITS ITS PARLIAMENT-WHY?
[All underlined words have a separate
ADDED NOV 1-2015
he was a
It is so
if on a
details go to :http://eutruth.org.uk