Ban on wearing uniform while campaigning

Another story from the Mail. Comment: if any election candidate REALLY is thinking of wearing their old uniform while campaigning, it would be unacceptable "walting" in my opinion and not, I think, equivalent to what happened in the 1945 General Election. In that election a number of candidates from all parties were still serving, and it was permitted to serve as an MP while in the armed forces for the duration of the emergency.

Labour ban on soldiers' uniform amid fears of poll punishment over Armed Forces

By Brendan Carlin, Mail on Sunday

Gordon Brown was last night accused of ‘paranoia’ after banning retired Army officers from hitting the Election trail in uniform.

Under rules introduced on the eve of the campaign launch, senior officers have been forbidden from wearing their old uniform while involved in political activity.

The move comes amid mounting Labour fears that it will be punished at the polls over its treatment of the Armed Forces, including repeated claims that Mr Brown has deprived British troops in Afghanistan of vital equipment.
The Browns

Paranoid? The move to ban uniforms on the campaign comes amid Labour fears that voters will punish the party

It also follows the decision of former Army chief Sir Richard Dannatt to serve as an adviser to David Cameron.

Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said: ‘This smacks of paranoia. I suppose with such intensified coverage of Afghanistan and so many casualties, defence is a much more important issue than it’s been for a number of elections.’

In the past, senior Army officers have been allowed to use their judgment when deciding whether to wear their old uniforms after retiring.

Former Labour deputy leader Denis Healey, who served with the Royal Engineers, was famously pictured making a speech to the 1945 Labour conference still in his major’s uniform.

But now, in a stricter version of Army Dress Regulations introduced on March 31, retired officers will have to abide by the same rules as serving military personnel and, apart from normal ceremonial events, ask permission from Army chiefs.

Ministry of Defence sources last night claimed the move would ban any former top brass from becoming involved in political events while in uniform. ‘It’s important we maintain the Army’s reputation for impartiality,’ one said.

The crackdown comes after allegations that a former Military Police colonel standing for Parliament was using his uniform to curry favour with voters.

Terry Scriven, Liberal Democrat candidate for New Forest East, was accused by his Tory opponent – sitting MP Julian Lewis – of breaching the spirit of Army rules by appearing in a Lib Dem newsletter in January wearing his uniform.

Mr Lewis, a former Seaman in the Royal Naval Reserve, said: ‘Putting out leaflets claiming to be a colonel many years after he retired is an abuse of his former status as a military policeman.’

Mr Scriven last night denied using his uniform as a campaign tool and accused Mr Lewis of a ‘distasteful’ accusation. He said he had been telephoned last Wednesday by a senior Army officer, Brigadier Mike Griffiths, warning him not to wear uniform during the Election campaign. ‘I told him I had never had any intention to do so,’ he added.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘Army dress regulations have been amended to ensure retired personnel conform to the same uniform policy as serving personnel. This has brought Army dress regulations in line with those of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.’

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