Sunday, June 16, 2024
HomeElection WatchNational Service? Haven't the Tories done enough damage to the young?

National Service? Haven’t the Tories done enough damage to the young?


HERE we go. Although as Kathy said yesterday we do not intend to give blow-by-blow commentary on every twist and turn in this daft election campaign, this bonkers idea of National Service deserves some examination.

Here we go: straight off, let’s get the youth to do some indentured servitude, sorry, National Service. 

The Sunday Times reports: ‘Every 18-year-old will be required by law to sign up for a year of National Service under plans unveiled by the Conservatives this weekend.

‘Rishi Sunak’s first manifesto commitment would see youngsters given the choice between a full-time course (for 12 months) or spending one weekend a month volunteering in their community. There will be sanctions for teenagers who do not take part. Up to 30,000 full-time positions will be created either in the armed forces or in cybersecurity training. The weekend placements could be with the fire or police service, the NHS or charities tackling loneliness and supporting older, isolated people.

‘The Tories have pledged to set up a royal commission to design the £2.5billion programme and establish details such as how the cybertraining would be delivered. A pilot will start next year and by the end of the parliament legislation will be passed making it mandatory for all 18-year-olds.’

(In my online version, there are two photographs of Sunak and one of Sir Keir Starmer, both open-collar and tie-free. Why do they do this?)

Mandatory volunteering. If that sounds like an oxymoron, it is because it is. It is also just wrong. Haven’t the Tories done enough damage to this rising generation, trashing their teenage years with lockdown? They now seek to force them to volunteer or something. I don’t think the youth need any more reasons not to vote Conservative in this election, but I am pretty sure this should disabuse any foolish youngsters completely of that mad idea.

Look, I am all for volunteering and community spirit. But it has to come from within. State-mandated volunteering is as confusing as it sounds. It also ignores the fact that lots of people already volunteer.

For the Conservatives, it is not enough to plunge this generation into huge levels of university debt (which they must attend as it is essentially a credentialling regime) but before they do that, they must surrender a year of their life to the State – or else. ‘There will be sanctions for teenagers who do not take part.’ That’s lovely, that is. Very community-minded.

You might think that ‘volunteering’ a year of your life or one weekend a month in your community isn’t asking much. But it would interfere with work, family and caring commitments. Just who does Sunak think he is to order young people to do this? The man cannot even remember his umbrella when making an important speech in the pouring rain, for goodness’ sake.

And the wealthy, time- and housing-rich baby boomers? (You knew it was coming) They don’t have to do anything, of course. Anyway, they will be on a cruise somewhere so it’s not as if you could get hold of them.

The Prime Minister says: ‘This new, mandatory National Service will provide life-changing opportunities for our young people, offering them the chance to learn real-world skills, do new things and contribute to their community and our country.’ I doubt very much it will do this. The youth could learn real world skills in a weekend job that they’d actually get paid for but under Tory Rule they must become an indentured servant of the State instead.

It was floated that ‘the weekend placements could be with the fire or police service, the NHS or charities tackling loneliness and supporting older, isolated people’. Really? The fire and police service having to babysit some surly 17-year-old teenager glued to a mobile phone? Is this really what a police officer wants?

No doubt the vast majority of the youth will be dumped in some NHS hospital to do goodness knows what, or indeed a nursing home. And what about all the people who are currently off work and on anti-depressants ‘because of mental health’. Will they be forced to volunteer, or let off the requirement?

This is all bad enough, but is there something more sinister at play? The Sunday Times piece ends with: ‘Earlier this year, the head of the army said Britain should train a “citizen army” ready to fight a war on land in the future. General Sir Patrick Sanders warned that an increase in reserve forces alone “would not be enough”. He highlighted the threat from Russia and pointed to steps being taken by other European nations to put their populations on a “war footing”.’

So more pro-war propaganda. Let’s get the youth ready for whatever ghastly plans they have in the future. Thanks but no thanks. 

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