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Sunak and whose army? Say No to plans for compulsory national service!

By N Knowles (WPB Writers Group)

Predictably lacking anything to offer his electorate, Rishi Sunak hastily announced that if elected, 18-year-olds would be made to do national service if the Tories win the general election. This was an interesting way to put himself even more on the back foot, after a similarly hasty general election announcement that was followed by the biggest exodus of Tory MPs since World War Two. This major policy proposal was not shared with his remaining MPs, given the allegations made by Wycombe MP Steve Baker, who as Minister of State for Northern Ireland, had not been consulted on the matter. Other Tory figures have argued that Britain’s armed forces need more money, not untrained teenage volunteers.

Although these plans had clearly done little to unite his own party, Sunak maintained that his plans for mandatory national service would help unite British society in an “increasingly uncertain world” and give young people a “shared sense of purpose”. In an apparent appeal to older voters, Mr. Sunak said that volunteering could include helping local fire, police, and NHS services, as well as charities tackling loneliness and supporting elderly and isolated people. Sunak’s contempt for young working-class people and their families was further highlighted in his rationale that some sort of national service was needed to keep kids out of trouble, and to give them rules and structure.

The plan has been rubbished by Admiral Alan West, a former chief of the naval staff, who said it was a “bonkers” plan, reiterating the assertions of other Tory ministers who said it would deplete the defence budget. He added that Rishi Sunak should have committed more funds to the defence budget before the election (Guardian, 26 May 2024)

The Workers Party unequivocally rejects this proposal. How can a government that have inherited a legacy of decimated services for children and young people, only to continue to erode what was left, strip them of the scant opportunities afforded to them to earn minimum wage on the weekends to support themselves and their parents through school and college, in exchange for compulsory unpaid menial labour? And if they aren’t being denied their spare time to do litter picking, the alternative is being trained on the cheap in preparation for the meat grinder of a war machine that seeks to bolster the profits of bankers and arms dealers.

Instead of imposing further burdens on our already stretched armed forces, we seek to review our defence infrastructure, with an end goal of ensuring those we recruit to defend our country do so because they are willing, proud, and supportive of a country that has taken care of them from the cradle to the grave. Comprehensive support of children and their families is the way to creating a society that is willing and able to serve its community. If families can raise their children in safe, supportive, and secure conditions, we will be closer to alleviating many of the societal ills that Sunak wishes to solve through national service. By properly funding education, we can provide young people with the sense of purpose that young people need to shape their futures.  Our workers demand dignity, decent wages, and sufficient job protection. The Workers will not allow the safety and reward of work to be compromised by what amounts to slave labour. 

One thought on “Sunak and whose army? Say No to plans for compulsory national service!

  1. If this nonsense happens, and the kids do their national service, they could come out as trained killers on the streets…

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