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Policy and Press – September 2014

By DPF Admin15th September 2014August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates

During the last month, the UK’s defence news has been dominated by events in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

In Syria and Iraq, Islamic State forces continued to advance. The RAF joined the US Air Force in dropping aid to refugees fleeing the advance of Islamic State fighters in Iraq, and Tornado bombers have been deployed to RAF Akrotiri to help direct the drops. Following the release of a video of the execution of a US journalist by an Islamic State fighter, who appeared to have a British accent, the Prime Minister chaired a series of meetings on the crisis.

Downing Street has rejected claims that the UK is ready to join the US campaign, citing an absence of a request from Washington, a need for further domestic debate and a current focus on providing humanitarian support. However, with Australia signalling a willingness to join an expanded air campaign and the New York Times reporting wider efforts by the US to secure a coalition of allies to support both further action in Iraq and an extension of the campaign into Syria, the UK may soon decide to adopt a more aggressive posture, particularly in light of the execution of a second American journalist and threats made against a British journalist.

In Ukraine, NATO has warned that Russia may be preparing for an invasion. Whilst there is no sign of Britain planning to become directly involved in either of these conflicts, it has emerged that the threat Russia poses to the UK will soon be upgraded from ‘Tier 3’ to ‘Tier 1’ – placing it on an equal footing with international terrorism. It also became increasingly clear that Russia is providing direct support to rebels in eastern Ukraine. David Cameron is expected to use the NATO conference taking place in Newport (the security provision for which includes MDP officers) to call for NATO members to increase their defence spending in light of the situation in the Ukraine.

The political approach

The Federation has continued its engagement with the MOD during the last month on the subject of officers’ pensions. We have now confirmed a meeting with civil servants to discuss the need to change pension arrangements to ensure officers are not expected or required to work to the State Pension Age.. We have confirmed meetings with various MPs to take place when the House of Commons returns from recess in September, and again in October. This includes meeting with Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage, whose constituency borders HMNB Portsmouth, former Defence Minister and current Defence Select Committee member Derek Twigg MP, and Graham Evans MP, the newly appointed Private Parliamentary Secretary to Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon.

We have additionally confirmed that the Clerk of the Commons Defence Select Committee is to investigate whether Committee members would welcome a briefing from the DPF at one of the Committee’s upcoming meetings.

We are currently awaiting confirmation of the date for a meeting with John Glen, who as MP for Salisbury has his constituency both encompass and boarder a number of key MoD facilities, and have sent further information regarding the DPF’s concerns regarding current policy to Mark Pritchard MP.

The purpose of these discussions with Parliamentarians over the coming weeks is to reinforce our previous engagement and to ensure high levels of parliamentary awareness, ahead of next year’s Defence Review, of the effect further cuts to the MDP would have on the security of key assets and establishments.

Media activity

We are continuing to take forward meetings with the defence correspondents of national broadsheet newspapers as a means of briefing them on issues affecting the Federation and its members, and to ensure continued good relations with the national media ahead of next year’s Defence Review.

We have also had a meeting with a new member of the Police Oracle team, Josh Loeb, who has responsibility for reporting on matters relating to the MOD. He has since written two stories highlighting the DPF’s concerns, which can be accessed via the links below:

Police Oracle: Military base security reduced after MoD police withdrawal

Police Oracle: MoD Police should investigate army rape claims

Local lobbying

We would recommend that members refrain from contacting their local MPs at present while dialogue with the MOD and Cabinet Office on the subjects of terms and conditions of service and pension provisions is ongoing, but would remind any member wishing to contact their MP that any correspondence is subject to MDP regulations.

DPF HQ

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