Labour 'should be forces party' - Jim Murphy

Jim Murphy Jim Murphy addressed delegates at Labour's annual conference

Labour should aim to replace the Conservatives as the traditional party of the armed forces, shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy has said.

Launching a scheme offering Labour membership for £1 to current and former forces personnel, he said defence cuts showed the Tories were no longer the forces' friend.

He told delegates: "I, along with the brilliant shadow defence team, want to challenge the age-old orthodoxy that the Labour is the party of the NHS and the Tories the party of the forces.

"Particularly, at a time when the Tories, through their health reforms and defence review, are proving themselves to be the party of neither, it is essential that a Labour opposition that wishes to be a Labour government again is the party of both.

"Let's look at what the Tories have done over the past year or so - an Army cut by 7,000, an island nation with aircraft carriers with no aircraft upon them.

"You don't have to be a military strategist to know what aircraft carriers are meant to do. The clue is in the name."

Mr Murphy was introduced to delegates by Dan Jarvis, a former member of the parachute regiment who joined the handful of ex-soldiers on Labour's benches earlier this year when he won the Barnsley Central by-election.

Mr Jarvis will play a leading role in a new Labour Friends of the Forces group, headed by former defence secretary and Nato general secretary George Robertson.

Serving members of the armed forces are allowed to be members of political parties but are prevented from standing for office.

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