Are you going to vote on the basis of defence policy?

Heard your local parliamentary candidates talking about defence policy and their parties’ plans for the defence industry recently?

You might have done if you live in a constituency with specific military or defence industry links.

Dorset South, for example, includes Bovington Army camp and the MP for South Ribble notes that his constituency in Lancashire is at the heart of Britain’s defence industry.

Otherwise you might not have done.

But the Chairman of the Defence Industries Council, Mike Turner, thinks all potential MPs should be talking about defence. He argues that “practically every Parliamentary constituency has a connection to the defence and security industry”.

Of course, the Defence Industries Council, comprised of Britain’s leading defence company CEOs, is keen to point out how important the sector is to Britain’s economy.

The DIC says the sector employs over 300,000 people in the UK and is responsible for £5 billion of export sales each year. (Which is an interesting figure because the UK Trade and Investment Department valued defence export sales at £4 billion in the financial year 2008-9).

Unfortunately for the DIC, the public do not seem to place the same value on defence and security when it comes to voting in this election. Which means politicians probably haven’t spent much time talking about it.

According to MORI opinion polls conducted in February and March defence policy is not at all that important to voters. I picked up these figures from an interesting post on the UK Defence Forum blog.

When MORI asked what is the most important issue affecting the country 55% said the economy, with only 14% citing defence, foreign affairs, and terrorism.

In a survey conducted between 19th and 22nd March, 32% said managing the economy was the most important issue when they were choosing which party to vote for. Only 3% regarded defence as the most important.

I’d be interested to hear from those 3%. Who are you? And who will you be voting for?

If you’re not sure what the parties’ policies on defence are you could do far worse than start with this analysis of the Labour and Conservative manifestos on the Kings of War blog. The Liberal Democrats defence policy can be found here.

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