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Political parties aim election policies at veterans

BayRadio | November 13, 2019

Veterans and serving military personnel are the focus of party policy as politicians mark Armistice Day on the campaign trail.

Boris Johnson has vowed to protect veterans from vexatious legal action while Jeremy Corbyn wants to improve working conditions.

The Lib Dems have said they will end settlement fees for veterans who were born outside the UK.

In the first full week of campaigning:

  • Boris Johnson welcomed a Brexit Party decision to stand down candidates
  • Labour’s Keith Vaz confirmed he would not stand again in Leicester East
  • The Conservative Mims Davies found a new seat after standing down
  • Lib Dems announced a £10,000 skills wallet for adult education

Mr Johnson would amend the Human Rights Act so it does not apply to incidents before 2000, when the law came into force. This would include deaths during the Troubles.

The Tory leader, who will mark Armistice Day in the Black Country, said: “As we remember the ultimate sacrifice made by our brave men and women for their country just over a century ago, it is right that we renew our commitment to the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and veterans of today.”

It comes a day after the publication of a report by the think tank Policy Exchange, which was endorsed by former US Army General David Petraeus.

Mr Petraeus had said: “The extension of the ECHR to the battlefield has made extensive litigation against British soldiers inevitable…This is not only unfair to those who have served and sacrificed for their country, it also gravely undermines the morale of those serving now and raises an unnecessary concern for potential recruits.”

Mr Johnson has also promised to guarantee veterans job interviews for public sector roles, provide childcare funded by the Ministry of Defence, and tax relief for firms hiring veterans in their first year out of the forces.

Labour wants to scrap the public sector pay cap, saying that according to their analysis, the starting salary of a private is £1,159 lower in real terms than in 2010.

The party wants to improve housing for armed forces personnel and their families by ending reliance on the private rented sector.

They also want to review the outsourcing of contracts as well as improving support for children whose parents are in the military.

Emily Thornberry, the party’s shadow foreign secretary, told Sky News: “We have been listening to personnel and they have been saying they have effectively been getting a pay cut because of a cap on service pay.

“We expect the ultimate from them so the least we can give them is a decent wage.”

She also said service personnel and their families were not getting good maintenance on their homes, claiming some people have waited three months to have boilers fixed, and talked about how hard it was for some of them to get their kids into the schools they want.

She added: “We want to help them establish something like the police federation, so there’s something to be the voice for rank and file members.”

Mr Corbyn said: “Our forces should not have to put up with pay cuts, sub-standard housing, difficulties accessing schools for their children, or face the uncertainty of relying on outsourced providers.

“After a decade of government cuts and outsourcing, Labour offers our armed forces real change with the pay, conditions and respect they deserve.”

The Lib Dems vowed to end the “excessive” processing fee which is charged to former personnel who apply for indefinite leave to remain, with their analysis suggesting the fee has risen from £750 to £2,389 since 2007.

But the Government suggests it costs £243.

The Lib Dems have claimed the fee stops some former personnel from settling in the UK, with PA speaking to one man from Fiji who said it was the sum that stopped him applying after 18 years in the British Army.

He said the fee was a “slap in the face”, adding: “What’s the point in saying ‘for your tomorrow, we gave our today’ when we fought for your today and we can’t even survive our tomorrow?”

Written by BayRadio

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