UK: Tories unveil plan to introduce national service

The Conservatives in the UK have set out a plan to introduce compulsory national service if they win the general election in July. Under the scheme, 18-year-olds would have the choice between doing twelve months of military service or community service at weekends. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the measure would promote a "shared sense of purpose among our young people". A sensible proposal?

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The Times (GB) /

An idea that deserves careful consideration

Labour shouldn't just dismiss Sunak's proposal out of hand, says The Times:

“Is Starmer absolutely confident that there are no circumstances, by the end of the decade, in which many more trained soldiers are needed? Does European security look set fair? Is Russia going to transform itself into a peace-loving democracy? Unless he is thinking of a much larger army or reserve force by some other means, he is going to need national service in some shape or form. ... Before dismissing a policy that would add to military skills, create a large reserve, rebuild national identity and rescue many from loneliness, there is a strong case for pausing to think.”

Andrei Movchan (RU) /


In a Facebook post, London-based financial consultant Andrei Movchan lists several reasons for being against Sunak's proposal:

“As if there wasn't already a shortage of labourers in almost every sector (from agriculture to construction). As if the nation wasn't ageing and one could constantly withdraw two to three percent of the workforce without consequences - and think that this would have no impact on social contributions, of which more and more are needed. As if teenagers could be turned into soldiers capable of participating in modern wars (instead of getting in the way and dying needlessly) within the space of twelve months. As if the country had the funds to house and train 300,000 people.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Damaging to peace

Sunak's idea would have fatal consequences for Northern Ireland, warns The Irish Independent:

“In Derry, where the events of Bloody Sunday still loom large, the idea that a young person from the Bogside or Creggan could be forced to join the British army in any capacity is beyond ludicrous. ... Just as with Brexit - when little or no consideration was given to what would happen to the Border in Ireland if trade arrangements changed - this is a further example of how little the UK government thinks of Northern Ireland. ... To impose such a divisive policy in a post-conflict society trying to nurture a new generation away from a troubled past would not just be immoral and incompatible with human rights, but damaging to the delicate peace in Northern Ireland.”