Postal votes have begun to be delivered to those voters who applied for them. The paperwork is not difficult but, because of the nature of postal voting, there is inevitably more to it than voting in person at the polling station. Election officials may have to return some votes because of errors.
Like all other parties except the SNP, Plaid Cymru's General Election manifesto doesn't say anything about representation for armed forces personnel. But Plaid has firmly supported representation in the past, giving cause for optimism that the party would again be prepared to support sensible representative arrangements.
Further to our news about SNP and Lib Dem support for armed forces personnel representation, an analysis of the Labour Party record on this issue is being produced and will be posted here during the weekend. Readers will be aware of BAFF's political neutrality; more on that point below.
Political support for the "right of association" for armed forces personnel has increased in the 8 years since the launch of the British Armed Forces Federation, but remains patchy. We cover in a separate article a new message of support from the Liberal Democrats, and the position of the outgoing coalition government. But only the Scottish National Party (SNP) has made a General Election manifesto commitment to representation for armed forces personnel.
A BBC Radio 4 investigation asks why the Ministry of Defence continues to use a drug that has been shown to cause psychosis, hallucinations, paranoia and confusion. It is alleged that, unlike other travellers who are able to make an informed choice and change their medication if they experience problems, some British service personnel in malarial regions have been given no choice and, in some cases, have been ignored when they reported side effects.
In 2006 the then Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Michael Walker (now Field Marshal Baron Walker of Aldringham), in evidence to the House of Commons Armed Forces Bill Committee, told MPs that an unnamed foreign contingent which had been part of his command in Bosnia had "laid down its arms" over "a pay deal" and "That is the sort of trouble you get into when there is a representative body".
At the time some MPs accepted this as a valid argument against representation. Were they right?
Time has now run out for registering to vote in the General Election on 7 May. The deadline to apply for a postal vote in this election has also passed. If you are registered you can still apply for a proxy vote until 5pm on Tuesday 28 April. After that deadline, you may still be able to apply for an "emergency proxy vote" in limited circumstances. Read on for more details:
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Manifesto for the Westminster General Election 2015 supports a strong UK defence, with defence spending not falling below 2% of GDP, and argues that the next Strategic Defence and Security Review should ensure that our Armed Forces should be capable of undertaking multiple deployments, whether as part of a multinational force or on our own. It also says that the Military Covenant should be implemented fully "and in an equivalent manner" in all parts of the UK.
So what is the DUP policy on representation for armed forces personnel?
The Liberal Democrat Party has for some years supported the cause of representation for armed forces personnel, and formally adopted it as a policy at its 2013 conference, so some British Armed Forces Federation members were surprised to note that it was left out of the party's General Election manifesto. BAFF took this up with the Lib Dems, and has now received confirmation from its defence spokesman that representation remains an official party policy.
For those who missed it, today's General Election Debate hosted by Forces TV and the Royal United Service Institution is now available to view online here:
As predicted, the Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB) has recommended a general increase of 1% in base pay, increases of up to 2.8% in rental charges for service accommodation, and of 1.5% in the daily food charge.
BAFF has also just learned that Australian Defence Force personnel, after a hard-fought but respectful campaign by representative organisations with influential MP support, have finally won an increase to their Government's original pay offer.