Scotland: SNP Youth motion to raise Army recruitment age passes at conference

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The youth wing of the Scottish National Party (SNP) secured a landmark victory at the party's annual conference on Sunday (8 October) as members voted in favour of raising the army recruitment age from 16 to 18. 

SNP Youth have long-campaigned for the Ministry of Defence to ban the enlistment of 16- and 17-year-olds into the armed forces and yesterday a majority of party members agreed as the motion passed with a significant majority. 

Rhiannon Spear, Glasgow councillor and SNP Youth national convenor, told the conference: “This is about what society that we want to be, it is about how we value our young people. We believe that the interests and health of Scotland’s young people must come before the demands of British military recruiters.”

The passing of the motion, which was publicly backed by 17 MSPs, one MP and 12 local branches before Sunday's debate, means that the SNP as a whole will now actively push for an increase in recruitment age.

Under the motion, the SNP will work to get the UK government to raise the recruitment age to 18 for all combat training. 

It is significant progress in the fight to get the Ministry of Defence to address its out-dated recruitment policies.

Rachel Taylor, director of programmes, Child Soldiers International, said: "It is fantastic news and shows there is real appetite to change recruitment practices from across the political spectrum."

"The SNP Youth pursued their campaign against a backdrop of scepticism and criticism but their victory shows that the majority of the party are indeed eager for the MoD's out-dated recruitment policy to change."

"The UK remain the only EU and NATO country to recruit at 16 and this victory is a significant step forward in ending the recruitment of children by the UK armed forces."

"Hopefully it will make the major political parties in Westminster sit up and address the issue themselves. It is about time the UK armed forces moved into the 21st century and this latest success can hopefully bring about progress across political lines."    

Source: Child Soldiers International

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