15.3 C
Thursday, June 13, 2024
Submit Content to Leeds Magazine
HomeUncategorizedTories Pledge Mandatory National Service for 18-Year-Olds

Tories Pledge Mandatory National Service for 18-Year-Olds

National Service Proposal

Eighteen-year-olds would be forced to carry out a form of national service if the Tories are voted back in at the July 4 General Election, Rishi Sunak has announced. Young people would be given a choice between a full-time placement in the armed forces for 12 months or spending one weekend a month for a year “volunteering” in their community, the Tories said.

Uniting Society

The Prime Minister said the policy would help unite society in an “increasingly uncertain world” and give young people a “shared sense of purpose”. In an apparent pitch to older voters, the Conservatives said volunteering could include helping local fire, police, and NHS services as well as charities tackling loneliness and supporting elderly, isolated people.

Opposition Criticism

Opposition critics dismissed the plans as unserious, with Labour saying the pledge would never come to fruition and amounted to “another unfunded commitment”. The Prime Minister is seeking to draw a dividing line with Sir Keir Starmer’s party on global security following his pledge to raise defence spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product by 2030.

Programme Details

Teenagers who choose to sign up for a placement in the forces would “learn and take part in logistics, cyber security, procurement or civil response operations”, the Tories said. The Conservatives said they would establish a royal commission bringing in expertise from across the military and civil society to establish the details of what they described as the “bold” national service programme.

Implementation Plan

The party said this commission would be tasked with bringing forward a proposal for how to ensure the first pilot is open for applications in September 2025. After that, it would seek to introduce a new “National Service Act” to make the measures compulsory by the end of the next Parliament, the party said.

Funding the Programme

The Tories estimated that the programme will cost £2.5 billion a year by the end of the decade, and said they plan to fund £1bn through a “crack down on tax avoidance and evasion”. The remaining £1.5bn will be paid for with money previously used for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), which was brought in to replace lost EU funding after Brexit, the Tories said.

Statements from Rishi Sunak

Sunak said: “This is a great country but generations of young people have not had the opportunities or experience they deserve and there are forces trying to divide our society in this increasingly uncertain world. I have a clear plan to address this and secure our future. I will bring in a new model of national service to create a shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country. 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.”

Defence of the Policy

Defending the policy on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show, Home Secretary James Cleverley said it was aimed at tackling “social fragmentation”. “Too many young people live in a bubble within their own communities,” Cleverley said.

Opposition Response

Responding to the announcement, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: “The only thing he is going to mobilise is Scotland’s youth against the Tories. And the SNP will be at their side, fighting against this pathetic policy, every step of the way.”

Labour has criticised the pledge as “desperate” and “only needed because the Tories hollowed out the armed forces”. A Labour spokesperson said: “This is not a plan – it’s a review which could cost billions and is only needed because the Tories hollowed out the armed forces to their smallest size since Napoleon. Britain has had enough of the Conservatives, who are bankrupt of ideas, and have no plans to end 14 years of chaos. It’s time to turn the page and rebuild Britain with Labour.”

Context and Comparisons

Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have all recently reintroduced some form of National Service, and France is too. Now, months after the head of the army said Britain should train up a “citizen army” ready to fight a war, Rishi Sunak is proposing 12 months of mandatory national service.

Campaign Trail

Mr Sunak’s pledge marks the first major policy announcement from either side ahead of the July 4 General Election that he called in a rain-soaked statement outside Downing Street earlier this week. The Prime Minister has said he is “pumped up” and enjoying himself on the campaign trail despite a difficult start that saw him encounter several hiccups on a whistlestop two-day tour of the four nations.

He is understood to be continuing the trail in the south east while Rachel Reeves will give a stump speech to party members in West Yorkshire as she heads out for Labour on Sunday. Meanwhile, Sir Ed Davey will launch the Liberal Democrats battlebus in a marginal constituency in the so-called Tory blue wall of southern England.

Leeds Magazine
Leeds Magazine
Leeds Magazine: Bringing you the best of Leeds, West Yorkshire! From Arts & Culture to Leeds News, Leeds History, Things to Do, Science & Technology, Business, Education, and Sport—we cover it all. Nestled by the River Aire and the Pennines' foothills, we deliver positive, inspiring local news. We ❤️ Leeds. Contact Leeds Magazine - Submit Your Content
Submit Content to Leeds Magazine


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -spot_img

Most Popular

Recent Comments