Posts Tagged ‘conscription’

Peace-time Conscription

November 9th, 2009
Carry On Sergeant Poster - based on relcutant NS Conscripts

Carry On Sergeant - based on reluctant National Service Conscripts

I genuinely wonder if people, when called up to take part in a polling survey, ask the caller to hold on one moment whilst they remove their brain.  A poll in today’s Metro declares that 56% of those surveyed would like to see National Service reintroduced into Britain.  I’m not sure they thought that through. Firstly, National Service (assuming we follow the traditional model) would be compulsory for all.  So yes, it would get rid of the ‘yoofs’ accosting dog walkers in the local parks for a year, but it would also apply to Joshua and Elizabeth, who would probably find their Raleigh International project and piano lessons did not form sufficient grounds for a dispensation.

When would you take this year out of their lives?  At 16, just after they leave school to reduce their chances of continuing into further education, or at 18, to end the gap year and accrue another year of debt before they enter University.  Perhaps we could defer it until 21, to kill the practice of graduate recruitment in higher education and allow an extra year of interest to fester on their student loans.

How much will you pay them?  I ask because there is a word for being forced to work for no pay.  I know the government likes to employ people, but putting an extra 700,000 16 year olds on the national payroll at minimum wage would cost over £4 billion or £5.5 billion if they are all over 18.

National Service in this county meant military service.  It was in fact peace-time conscription, enacted by the National Service Act 1948.  Where should we deploy these half trained teenage conscripts first, Northern Ireland, Iraq or Afghanistan?  Over 200 brave soldiers have now been killed in Afghanistan, an enormous loss.  Their sacrifice is the greater because they knew the risks, and enlisted anyway.  How would the media react when our first national service teen gets blown to bits or kidnapped in a place they were sent to against their will?

“Other countries do it!” they cry.  No, they don’t.  Not what these people have in mind when they hear ‘national service’.  The only ones that do that are Israel and China.  I see some problems with the comparison.  Yes, Germany and Denmark do as well, but I don’t think that will be the case for long.  Germany is already quite flexible about how the time is spent and their conscripts are as likely to undertake the German equivalent of Raleigh as a military role (though due credit to the courageous guys that choose to do that.)  In this country, I’d guess the ‘yoofs’ would pick the taxpayer funded holiday.

National Service here ended in 1960.  I may be wrong, but I guess that means that in practice, no one born after 1942 has served by conscription in the UK.  In which case, I respect the opinion of everyone over 67 in favour of national service, but the rest should be quiet.

I would love to leave it there, but this cohort become even more bonkers.  Does it not terrify you that over a thousand people (51% of the survey) think conscription should replace custodial sentences of less than a year for young offenders.  Basically, they are in favour of taking these errant, angry and disengaged miscreants and teaching them how to run fast, track covertly and use automatic weapons.

I blame the Daily Mail.

Listen out for Kenneth Williams – comic genius.

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