WE will all be looking forward to Armed Forces Day this weekend. It’s an opportunity for people across the UK to come together to celebrate the contribution our forces and their families make not just to our national security but to our local communities.
Labour has presented a Bill to Parliament which would outlaw discrimination against our forces in pubs, hotels and other services. Evidence shows that 18 per cent of service personnel have experienced unfair treatment in this area, which is simply unacceptable and demands action.
We also want to see those who abuse or attack our forces treated harshly and for there to be legislation to protect reservists at work.
Everyone has a duty to support the forces. We must give our service personnel higher-level skills so that they can perform to the best of their ability on the front line, increase their chances of progression within their service and be more employable when they leave.
We also want to see improved support for those who leave the forces, targeted towards some of the most vulnerable. We have a duty of care to all service personnel and their dependents and I want us to be more ambitious for what they can achieve while they serve and beyond.
It is a non-party political objective to want to reward and commemorate those who serve. Just as all parties want to defend our nation, so too do they want to protect those who protect us in the dust and danger of battlefields overseas.
Today the House of Commons will therefore debate Armed Forces Day and how we can all ensure that the central principle of the Armed Forces Covenant – that no disadvantage should arise from service – can become not just an aspiration but a reality for all.
Our forces are exceptional; so too should be the support they receive. Armed Forces Day is an opportunity for us all to play our part.
Jim Murphy MP is shadow defence secretary