Not top of their list. The parties' focus groups would have told them that the economy comes first, followed by health, education, EU. Afghanistan and defence does not feature high enough for a serious debate. Otherwise when Nick Clegg mentioned Trident in the live TV debate the other two participants would have jumped on it if it was a vote decider.
As RearWords says its not high on the agenda of interests for most voters and is not in the interests of the leaders to raise.
Brown is not going to raise the issue. Being pro-defence or pro-forces is not to his personal tastes and does not play well with core Labour supporters but being honest about his true feelings would not play well with the majority of voters. Its also an area he has been caught lying about.
Cameron could have gone for Brown big time on the issue but has probably calculated that voters can be turned off by too many personal attacks by leaders. Many people will have drawn their own conclusions about Browns appalling behavior. More worryingly I suspect that Cameron does not want to get boxed in to having expensive policies that he has promised to follow.
Clegg has been quite clever. What Clegg says is 'popular' even though it does not bear scrutiny. The Ban-the-bomb mob will probably be inclined to vote for him despite the fact that he has not said he will unilaterally disarm. Indeed when pressed he has said he won't, at least not in the short term so he is not overly scaring the horses. I think he is making a major 'tactical' error in suggesting any date for withdrawal from HERRICK because I believe that even saying that gives succour to the enemy and encourages them to think they are winning and should push harder. However it plays well to the home front.
Fear. No one wants to give hostages to fortune.
Whoever wins is going to either have to break manifesto promises, or try and make a silk purse out of the sow's ear that is our current defence policy.
All sides have made 'we support the troops' noises. One Party is going to have to shaft the troops straight after the election, when the cuts come in.
That's not going to be nice for whoever does it, but the more pro-military noise you make now makes you look a bigger hypocrite in a few weeks time.
Worse, make too much noise, and in some key marginals it might look as if you approve of invading Muslim countries at the Americans' behest. Dangerous.
Also, when the next round of inquests comes out, no-one wants to be too pro-military if the findings are that equipment shortages contribute to deaths, AND you've just cut Â£x million from the equipment budget. That makes it clear that not only is Government NOT acting on these findings, but is actually making it worse, it simply looks like it doesn't give a S**T about more dead Toms?