Pickled Politics






  • Family

    • Clairwil
    • Daily Rhino
    • Leon Green
    • Sajini W
    • Sid's blog
    • Sonia Afroz
    • Sunny on CIF
  • Comrades

    • Aqoul
    • Blairwatch
    • Bloggerheads
    • Blood & Treasure
    • Butterflies & Wheels
    • Catalyst magazine
    • Chicken Yoghurt
    • Clive Davis
    • Comment is Free
    • Curious Hamster
    • Daily Mail Watch
    • Dave Hill
    • Derek Wall
    • Dr StrangeLove
    • Eteraz: States of Islam
    • Europhobia
    • Faith in Society
    • Feministing
    • Harry's Place
    • Indigo Jo
    • Liberal England
    • Liberal Review
    • Matt Murrell
    • MediaWatchWatch
    • Ministry of Truth
    • Natalie Bennett
    • New Humanist Editor
    • New Statesman blogs
    • open Democracy
    • Robert Sharp
    • Septicisle
    • Shiraz Socialist
    • Shuggy's Blog
    • Stumbling and Mumbling
    • Tasneem Khalil
    • The Other India
    • The Sharpener
    • The UK Today
    • Tim Worstall
    • UK Polling Report
  • In-laws

    • Desi Pundit
    • Incurable Hippie
    • Isheeta
    • Neha Viswanathan
    • Power of Choice
    • Real man's fraternity
    • Route 79
    • Sakshi Juneja
    • Sepia Mutiny
    • Smalltown Scribbles
    • Sonia Faleiro
    • Turban Head
    • Ultrabrown





  • Site Meter

    Technorati: graph / links

    Erm… National Service?


    by Sunny on 6th September, 2007 at 1:55 pm    

    Every 16-year-old will be expected to devote their summer to “patriotic” national service, under radical proposals being launched by David Cameron today. School leavers would be encouraged to join six-week projects such as military training, working with the elderly and even travelling overseas to help in Third World countries.

    He insisted that the plans would save the country money, although he admitted that the Tory party had yet to calculate the potential costs.

    Up to 650,000 16-year-olds could take part in the voluntary projects every year.

    The Guardian says today. Is this the magic bullet for our apparently falling apart society, or just another Tory authoritarian dream that will fall apart at first hurdle?



    Print this page and comments   |   Trackback link   |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Party politics




    39 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. James — on 6th September, 2007 at 2:15 pm  

      Just a thought…

      But if this scheme is voluntary isn’t it a danger that all the happy, motivated, middle class youngsters jump at the chance of having some fun during their summer, while in contrast those people that have lost faith in modern society, hanging round street corners, drinking etc will be the last people to volunteer to do such a thing.

      It could miss the very people it is supposed to help.

    2. Don — on 6th September, 2007 at 2:20 pm  

      ‘Is this the magic bullet for our apparently falling apart society, or just another Tory authoritarian dream that will fall apart at first hurdle?’

      The latter.

    3. Rumbold — on 6th September, 2007 at 2:26 pm  

      I agree with James (#1), but neither would I make it compulsory. It is just a bad idea.

    4. vokz — on 6th September, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

      Well I guess it beats having all 16 year olds spend their summer holidays working as a Community Support Officers … just.

    5. Flotsam — on 6th September, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

      This is going to be a tricky one for da kidz. Do they choose to:

      a) Get military training and end up being packed off to Afghanistan.

      b) Spend their days dealing with old people that smell of urine.

      c) Bugger off to somewhere sunny and that grows cheap weed.

      I’m glad I’m so old that I don’t have to take such tough decisions.

    6. Leon — on 6th September, 2007 at 2:35 pm  

      They’re all at it today, Brown with his Citizen Juries, Ming is writing in the Guardian about the public writing a constitution (now that would be the mother of all wiki style editing wars!) and also Cameron.

      I spoke to someone close to the Power Inquiry this morning and they claimed this is a success for them; basically they persuaded Brown with their report and because he’s seized on this the other parties have to jump onto it too to not be outflanked on the issue of the day.

      They’re all vying for headlines and recognition because we’re now in a pseudo General Election campaign period.

    7. Justin — on 6th September, 2007 at 2:38 pm  

      If only more political ideas were inspired by the likes of ‘Starship Troopers’. If I were 16 again I’d sign up to fight the bugs on Klendathu in a shot. Oh, to be able to demonstrate I’m a good citizen.

      Sigh.

    8. Kismet Hardy — on 6th September, 2007 at 2:52 pm  

      Ban kids from playing violent computer games. Give them real guns

    9. Sofia — on 6th September, 2007 at 2:53 pm  

      how about sending the 16 year olds to space camp..pressing a button and blasting them all off into space…*oops*…this does seem rather an attractive propostion when one has to travel on the buses with them..

    10. justforfun — on 6th September, 2007 at 3:02 pm  

      Surely this scheme already exists - can’t one already go to Pakistan to undertake good works, and get a bit of military training thrown in for free :-)

      Will kids be given “educational vouchers” they can spend the privitised provider of their choice. I think we should be told.

      Justforfun

    11. Longrider — on 6th September, 2007 at 3:12 pm  

      The operative word being “voluntary”. If Cameron was being authoritarian, it would be compulsory. Providing it remains voluntary and doesn’t become compulsion by the back door, I have no problem with it. If I was sixteen, I would simply opt out and spend my time as I choose rather than as some tit of a politician thinks I should. If it was compulsory, I would make a point of refusal.

      As it is proposed, it is really not a problem.

    12. Sofia — on 6th September, 2007 at 3:15 pm  

      Longrider, the risk is that it may start off as voluntary and then once established become compulsory..especially as we have a penchant for becoming embroiled in illegal wars

    13. Leon — on 6th September, 2007 at 3:34 pm  

      The operative word being “voluntary”.

      That’s a dubious term, it isn’t hard to make something voluntary and almost compulsory due to circumstance.

    14. Morgoth — on 6th September, 2007 at 3:37 pm  

      What, like ID cards? Or a DNA database?

    15. Leon — on 6th September, 2007 at 3:44 pm  

      Yep but I was thinking more along the lines of funding.

    16. The Common Humanist — on 6th September, 2007 at 3:49 pm  

      “especially as we have a penchant for becoming embroiled in illegal wars”

      One in Fifty years? (Ok, 2 in 51 years)

      Most European nations have something similar but in cynical old blightly I don’t think this will be more then a state funded junket for Tom and Lucy’s to do…AKA hijacked by the middle class.

      Transfering wealth and opportunity from the poor to the wealthy…..typical Tory bollocks in other words.

    17. The Common Humanist — on 6th September, 2007 at 3:55 pm  

      Besides, national service in the military sense might take young men and women off the streets but if thenet result is a less capable Army etc then its probably not the right approach.

      Unless, we have a professional force for fighting and a more civil emergency orientated force for disaster relief and the like. Actually, that might be a way to a bit of international rehab for us - a 100,000 civil soldiers ready to rescue refugees, help flood victims, etc etc etc. We can use the funds from not replacing Trident (Plus the regular army deserves a payrise)

      TCH

    18. Billy — on 6th September, 2007 at 3:56 pm  

      If it were compulsory it would be authoritarian.

      As it is, it is just pointless.

    19. Sofia — on 6th September, 2007 at 3:59 pm  

      lol @ 2 in 51 years…maybe I should change illegal wars to “in my opinion what should be classified as crazy arse reasons to go to war” wars

    20. The Common Humanist — on 6th September, 2007 at 4:04 pm  

      I suspect Suez and Iraq will be sharing pages for decades to come!

      POssibly its all been a plot by Waterstones to boost non fiction sales in years to come??? You heard it here first! The MilitaryPublishingComplex!

      The thing is….somebody, somewhere would believe that!

    21. justforfun — on 6th September, 2007 at 4:23 pm  

      I do

      Think about it - If a tree falls in a forest with no one to hear it, then does it make a sound?

      Hollywood scriptwriters have no imagination - they need to get their inspiration from real life or perhaps they are all part of a plot - as fictional wars have no resonance. Fictional stories set in real wars - now that IS powerful propaganda and can effect how a nation behaves.

      Justforfun

    22. Ramiie — on 6th September, 2007 at 4:31 pm  

      Just what this country needs..dumb, army trained and idle killing machines on our streets.

    23. Ramiie — on 6th September, 2007 at 4:40 pm  

      ..but then again the British has prospered mainly through its unique brand of militarism - and, not to forget, racist empire building. What other nation has so effectively raped the economies of brown people’s countries through force of arms and a sinister mind control?

      I really can’t name any other outside of the pages of Star Trek. lol

    24. Sofia — on 6th September, 2007 at 4:47 pm  

      I suppose that’s mostly 19th and 20th century empire building as opposed to the likes of the Caesars, Genghis Khans and Alexandras of yore.

    25. Don — on 6th September, 2007 at 5:23 pm  

      Six weeks is ridiculous. In any worthwhile task, it would take at least that before a newcomer became an asset instead of a drain on the time of the people who are actually doing the job.

      In fact, this idea is ridiculous in so many ways it could be used as a new linguistic paradigm for ‘ridiculous gimmick’.

    26. The Common Humanist — on 6th September, 2007 at 7:08 pm  

      Compared to the Empires pre Enlightenment the British was a benign liberal hug fest, thats a fact. Doesn’t make some of what was done right but there is a longer context with which to view such things.

      I think as a Brit we should be aware of the positives and the negatives of the Empire rather then be either tub thumbing or constantly apologising.

      I mean, take slavery, with the Royal Navy’s long long reach and, lets be honest, wilingness to shoot first, the slave trade would have been much harder to curtail.

      On t’other hand, we screwed up across Africa and let the worst angels of our nature take over (Rhodes et al - tossers).

      Or India - we gave it unity, prevented a mughal comeback,good government and civil law…..sorry about the resource extraction, not killing off the caste system and the famines.

    27. What sixteen-year-olds really need is a good traipse up a hill « Gary Andrews — on 6th September, 2007 at 7:19 pm  

      […] , I no understand , Politics When the Devil’s Kitchen (courtesy of The Namless One) and Sunny Hundal are in broad agreement, you just know the idea’s not so much half-baked but hasn’t even […]

    28. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 6th September, 2007 at 7:27 pm  

      I think that this is a bloody brilliant idea. If you follow any of the tribe series you can see that in every ‘primative’ society we have a ‘comming of age’, one minute you are a boy the next you jump over a cow, or take some really serious hallucinogenic drugs and BAM! you are a man!

      Of course if I were under 16 I’d think that this is a terrible idea, although if it involved less community service and more LSD I’d sign up in a heart beat.

      TFI

    29. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 6th September, 2007 at 7:30 pm  

      You know it all sounds a great deal like Badin Powell’s most famous work: “The Scouts”.

      TFI

    30. Don — on 6th September, 2007 at 8:13 pm  

      ‘ one minute you are a boy the next you jump over a cow, or take some really serious hallucinogenic drugs and BAM! you are a man!’

      Were you at my 18th birthday?

    31. sid — on 6th September, 2007 at 8:19 pm  

      I think I was at mine.

    32. ad — on 6th September, 2007 at 9:25 pm  

      OTOH, the other lots idea is 2 more years compulsory education. At least Cameron will only waste 6 weeks of everyones time…

    33. Kulvinder — on 6th September, 2007 at 11:33 pm  

      Sometimes you think the Tory party is actually making progress in joining the 21st century, then they helpfully remind you that they’re still quite insane.

      Wouldn’t it be more useful to be radically progressive instead of reheated-reactionary? Theres obviously a problem with people leaving school at 16 without any qualifications of social aptitude for working in a professional environmen.

      Personally id allow children who obviously don’t have a desire to follow an academic path into industry the option of working one or two days a week in an office or in insudstry - id allow them to do that from the moment they start secondary education. Some people just prefer learning ‘on the job’ and i don’t think theres anything wrong with that, infact afaik a combined education/work system is seen as very helpful to those who leave school but don’t want to go to university; so why not allow someone the opportunity to do that from an early age?

      I’d much prefer a society in which education and work were integrated (for those who choose it) at much earlier age. Having all your ‘education’ in one big block till the age of 16 then only working is absurd imho.

    34. chris y — on 7th September, 2007 at 12:43 pm  

      If only more political ideas were inspired by the likes of ‘Starship Troopers’.

      This is more like “Bill, the Galactic Hero”.

    35. Rohan — on 7th September, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

      Kulvinder - I used to think that was the cure to all ills. Unfortunatly the evidence is that more (young) people just don’t want to learn, train or work and furthermore I don’t think it is the “state’s” fault unless you believe the huge provision of training and support for 16-18 year olds has actually caused those same people to turn away from training, education and work. There are several economic and societal reasons you could look to. The pursuit of short term utility (and in particular hedonism) now overides a medium term pursuit of happiness (driven by stable relationships and work primarily). This is enabled by a hugely successful economy, a parental welfare state and family structures that will provide sufficient financial resource to live your life without fear of not being able to support yourself.

      Generally people are on average making themselves more unhappy through their own choices, and the impact of those choices on others. I’m torn whether the Government has a right to intervene in agressive ways to stop making people making bad choices (a camp some liberal economists, radical Greens and right wing politicans could each fight a corner for in different ways), or whether the Government’s role is to treat the symptoms of peoples’ choices (the Layard approach). If it intervenes it will invetably constrain the choices of many, and lead to decreases in happiness of some, but it could raise overall happiness and cure some of the so-called “societal decline” by hugely incentivising renengagement with positive networks. If it attempts to treat it could enable people to make better choices or it could further infantise the population. And both approaches would have inevitable unintended consequenses. What we do know is in the area of policy on young people at the moment we know progressive policies are having limited impact and pretty much every indicator is going in the wrong direction. Inevitably we will just blunder on somewhere in the middel overseeing more and more failiures of public policy.

    36. sonia — on 7th September, 2007 at 4:55 pm  

      Ha - just goes to show. Where has David Cameron been? if he really wants to, i’m sure he could come up with a scheme where kids who want to go on a year out after finishing school (which increasingly more and more people are doing!) get some money from the government to do something ‘volunteer-y’ along the way etc. so many people pay to go on those Africa volunteer schemes! you wouldn’t even have to make it mandatory obviously.

      of course, the dodgy thing is the ‘patriotic’ bit and the military training bit.

    37. Kulvinder — on 8th September, 2007 at 7:44 am  

      Kulvinder - I used to think that was the cure to all ills. Unfortunatly the evidence is that more (young) people just don’t want to learn, train or work

      Every generation seems to like saying this - despite overwhelming evidence of continual human progress being evidence to the contrary. Its a bit like lunatic racial/class purists getting overly upset at ‘the wrong kinds of people’ breeding too much; because quite clearly people 100 years ago were cleverer.

      From my own experience years ago i remember a fair amount of enthusiasm when work experience was arranged - there was also quite a bit of jealousy when some kids were paid for their work. The government is apparently considering paying kids to stay in school so i don’t think my idea is completely off the wall.

      To put it another way lets say the minimum age at which you could leave full time education was raised to 26, all the problems we now associate with those 16 and under would suddenly appear in those 26 and under. The same delinquency would in my opinion become apparent.

      Full time secondary education is really little more than a hangover from victorian times - they didn’t have vast information networks available to them and needed a fairly rigid structure to inform the public to a desired level. We live in an age of mass telecommunication where David Attenborough can tell me about the natural world far more effectively than any classroom. Thats before we even consider the internet.

      We’re willing to recognise that monetary incentive is a factor in life, so we’re willing to pay kids to stay-on in an environment which they don’t appreciate and which somewhat hinders their social aptitude. Yet we’re not willing to take a leap of imagination and see the multiple benefits of dividing their time between formal schooling and a professional atmosphere largely free of other kids. I think a market solution would be best for all concerned.

    38. Don — on 8th September, 2007 at 11:41 am  

      Kulvinder,

      I agree, at least we should be moving in that direction and making a work/school combination a viable option.

    39. Rohan — on 10th September, 2007 at 5:39 pm  

      “Every generation seems to like saying this - despite overwhelming evidence of continual human progress being evidence to the contrary. Its a bit like lunatic racial/class purists getting overly upset at ‘the wrong kinds of people’ breeding too much; because quite clearly people 100 years ago were cleverer.”

      I think the evidence is quite clear - the proportion of young people who are not in education, training or employment is rising. We’re not sure why but the funds dedicated to training and education has risen and unemployment for those who want to work has fallen. The proportion of young people on inactive benefits (income support and incapacity benefit) is rising. Young people are also less happy on average than before. That is a pretty serious timebomb. It’s worth reading Layard’s book even if you disagree with him. What it all adds up to is a public policy failure which should be an area where truely radical policies are looked at.



    • Post a comment using the form below

    Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2007. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
    With the help of PHP and Wordpress.