Thursday, 25 March 2010

Disenfranchising the army

Earlier this month Iraq held a general election. Twenty million Iraqis went to the polls, including nearly 2 million living overseas. The British government set up polling stations in the UK so that tens of thousands of Iraqis living here could vote. The government was diligent in making sure ex-pat Iraqis didn't lose their democratic rights.

In six weeks or so we will (probably) have a general election in the UK. We currently have 6,000 of our citizens serving in the armed forces in Afghanistan. The government is being considerably less diligent in making sure they can vote. The government has said it may not be possible to fly the ballot papers back to the UK in time for them to be counted.

There will be 16 days between close of nominations and polling day. During those two weeks or so the ballot papers have to be printed, flown to Camp Bastion, distributed, marked by voters, collected and flown back to the UK. Tight, but it seems do-able.

Is there another reason the government would want to drag its heels?

Well, yes. Rumour has it that the great majority of private soldiers would vote for the British National Party - and we can't have that, can we?

Iraqi election 2010

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