UK Politics

Labour wants new law for attacks on armed forces

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Media captionJim Murphy: "This is a government that does not listen".

Attacking a member of the armed forces should be a "specific criminal offence", the shadow defence secretary has said.

Jim Murphy said Labour would seek to change the law next month.

The move would give British troops "the protection their bravery deserves", he told delegates at the party's annual conference in Brighton.

He attacked the government for cutting soldier numbers and Army pay, labelling its defence policy a "shambles".

'Discrimination'

Labour has sought to emphasise its support for the armed services in recent months, holding a summit this summer.

Mr Murphy said he was "determined we are the party of the armed forces".

Among the party's plans are proposals to name streets after those killed in action, new legal entitlements to "in-service education" and personalised health support for those with life-changing injuries.

The shadow defence secretary said the new measures would be enshrined in an "armed forces and veterans bill of rights".

"Too many of our armed forces face discrimination," he told party activists.

"It's sad to think that those who fight for our country might need the additional protection of our laws, but some do.

"Next month in the House of Commons, Labour will table amendments to the Defence Reform Bill so that for first time ever is it a specific criminal offence to attack a member of the British armed forces...

"At last they will have the protection that their bravery deserves."

He launched an attack on the government's attitude to British soldiers, saying a decision to sack 20,000 and replace them with reservists was a "shambles".

And he criticised the government for cutting troops' pay, adding: "You should never cut the pay of the bravest to fund a cut for the richest in our country."

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