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The suffering of being voluntary

“National service should be compulsory for the young, says Chuka Umunna”

Coming out can be a stressful process. All should have sympathy with Mr Umunna’s personal struggle to accept his inner Tory.

Young Britons should do a form of ‘national service’ to end the current ‘social apartheid,’ according to Chuka Umunna. The Independent Group frontman has unveiled a list of policies, including on tuition fees, education grants and how to fund the health service. The former Labour MP has suggested that youngsters be forced to carry out work to break down barriers within society.

Because nothing builds unity in a society like some of its members using force on others. Both sides are participating, right?

The TIG spokesman stressed the plan would not be a return to compulsory military service but would help people meet other Britons from different social backgrounds.

Mr Umunna said his proposal could build on the National Citizen Service scheme introduced by David Cameron, which ‘has suffered by being voluntary’. It could also draw on evidence from France, where Emmanuel Macron made a national service requirement for 16-year-olds a key policy, with trials beginning this year.

Will no one think of the National Citizen Service scheme? We cannot leave it to suffer this way.

24 comments to The suffering of being voluntary

  • They suffer so much when we are allowed to volunteer – or not. Silenced people can still vote with their feet – or express their opinion of your ideas with their very silence. I’m sure Mr Umunna feels sure this proposal will be very popular – so popular, everyone must be forced to do it.

  • Paul Marks

    The ideas of the “Independent” Group seem very much in line with the ideas of Mussolini and Italian Fascism. Everything for the state – nothing outside the state, “social apartheid” overcome by conscription of the young to serve the masses.

    To Chuka Umunna the problem with Marxism (the sort of thing that John McDonnel and co believe in – Marxism having taken over the Labour Party now) is that his personal wealth would be confiscated. Mr Umunna wants Collectivism – but he wants to keep his personal wealth, and Fascism allows him to “have it both ways”, have Collectivism but keep his personal wealth.

    Sadly I am sure there are many “Conservative” Members of Parliament would also be attracted to Fascism – to Collectivism, but with the proviso that they keep their personal wealth. These Members of Parliament are called the “Remainers” – in that they do not see the Fascism of the European Union as a bug, they see it as a feature.

  • Roué le Jour

    I do realise that our host is expressing the Libertarian view, but just to play Lucifer’s Lawyer for a minute, we already compel children to attend school, so really it’s just a question of where you draw the child/adult line?

    So if teenagers are given a choice, get a job, go to college or fill sandbags for a couple of years is that so bad? the alternative is they sign on, so do young men have a “right” to live a life of idleness at their neigbour’s expense?

  • but just to play Lucifer’s Lawyer for a minute, we already compel children to attend school, so really it’s just a question of where you draw the child/adult line?

    I have long called mandatory state schooling “Child Conscription” (and mandatory jury duty “Judicial Conscription”). I oppose all forms of conscription.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Does that mean that there are no “duties of citizenship”?

    Taxes are a form of conscription, if you want to look at it that way (but I still think taxes aren’t necessary — I think there’s a work-around, but it won’t happen in my lifetime or yours). Jury duty is conscription. The draft is conscription for national defense. I think that taxes are in fact unnecessary and that the draft is harrd to defend (and that a volunteer army works better anyway); what else is there except jury duty? Especially since the idea is to get a bunch of people, hopefully impartial, to decide whether the law was broken in a given case — and the “Rule of Law” is one of the fundamental pillars of our preferred political system, and is supposed to be a safeguard for everyone, including me the drafted juror. (Still, if anyone can come up with a better method of adjudication I’d be all for it.)

    So citizenship is supposed to confer at least the benefits of a stable system and a rule of law, plus protection from non-domestic malefactors — but the citizen has no duties to keep the system going? (I don’t mean in spite of political abuses — I mean assuming the regime is not seriously abusive in any way.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Just to be clear, the only “conscription” that I really defend is jury duty.

  • Eric

    Were my country infested with these people I’d recommend a law which specifies they all be tied to a chair with their eyelids forced open, A Clockwork Orange style, while Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl plays over and over on the screen.

  • James Strong

    @ Perry de Havilland

    What alternative do you propose to mandatory jury duty and why would it be better?

    There might be a fill post’s worth ofdisacussion on this.

    My first thought is that it would be a hugely retorgrade step because you’d probably get volunteers motivated to develop their own views on what they would see as criminal, or not criminal, behaviour. The chances of a disdpassionate assessment of the case presented in court would be much reduced.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Athenian democracy had many of its political rulers selected by lot. So let’s replace MPs with public service.

    Another amusing possibility would be to require everyone to do 6 months as a police officer. Lots of meeting the public, mixing with those of other social backgrounds, seeing the welfare state up close and personal, … Chuka should be delighted.

  • Roué le Jour

    I’d like to see laws passed by a jury. Let legislators for and against argue their case in front of “twelve good men and true” picked at random. Let’s see how far climate change, immigration and no smoking in pubs fares then.

  • I’d like to see laws passed by a jury. (Roué le Jour, March 10, 2019 at 9:06 am)

    I’d like to see guilt beyond reasonable doubt decided by a jury. If I were charged with hate speech, I’d feel less concerned if I knew it would be a jury trial than if I knew it would be before magistrates only.

    As regards your devil’s advocate, it is indeed true, as regards school, that a given society tends to have an age when childhood ends, before which there is typically some ‘thou shalt’. But just as schools would be much better if the state’s role shrank to vouchers for privately-provided, parent-selected schools, so, conversely, it says everything about Mr Umunna, never mind his scheme, that he seems not even to have thought, “How can I provide as much voluntary initiative in my scheme as I can.” Taking control is always the first step of him and his kind, and no practical experience of how that makes outcomes worse has yet shaken the faith of Mr Umunna that the solution to any problem is for such as he to be given yet more power over it.

    I of course would prefer more freedom yet and do not see Umunna’s scheme as anywhere to start from, but I could make it less bad – because more free – than he ever will. 🙂

  • Roué le Jour

    This is an armchair exercise in the sense that I think there is zero chance of any such scheme being implemented in the UK, not the least because any attempt to target NEETs, for example, would be found to be racist.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Although Mr Umunna might realize that this ‘social apartheid’ is primarily caused by a great many “young people” who are of religious and cultural backgrounds that are not as tolerant as he wishes, does he really think this would help the ones who are being victimized by such intolerance?

    For example, what does he think would realistically happen if a young homosexual person is forced to collaborate and commune with others from a culture that is less than tolerant of such sexual preferences? Does he believe the intolerant idiots will have a sudden change of heart and become less homophobic?

    He is just trying to paper over the cracks his own “progressive” policies have created in the past.

    out of interest, does Mr Umunna propose what the punishment would be for any person not wishing to comply?

  • Mr Ed

    The law of England does not require children to go to school. Read that again until it sinks in, and then again. Write it out a thousand times, and then it might sink in.

    The law of England does require that children receive an education, homeschooling is lawful.

    State schools are free-at-point-of-use childcare, with costs attached.

  • Paul Marks

    Fascism – Collectivism, “everything for the state – nothing, and no one, outside the state”.

    But (unlike orthodox Marxism) with the sly promise that certain people will not have their wealth touched.

    This, Fascism, is the doctrine of our age – and Mussolini was actually very “Woke” by the standards of this time (up with the latest Social Justice thinking – right to his dying day, and he remained an admirer of Karl Marx even as orthodox Marxists killed him).

    Will the sly promise of Fascism “Collectivism – but NOT for you my dear Sir” actually be kept?

    Of course, in the end, the sly promise of Fascism will NOT be kept – the mega rich and the mega corporations who back such things as the “European Union” (a Fascist institution to the core of its being) WILL BE BETRAYED by the very thing they back.

    Just as the mega rich and the mega corporations who back the left in the United States WILL BE BETRAYED by the forces they are backing.

    But they will not listen to some gutter person like me – they will just laugh. Till the moment the betrayal happens – then they will understand everything (when it is much too late).

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed is quite correct – neither the law of England and Wales nor (as far as I know) Scots law or the law of Northern Ireland compels people to send their children to a school – Home Schooling is legal.

    However, it is the law of GERMANY that people send their children to a school (Home Schooling being illegal in Germany – thanks to a certain “senior private” who was born and raised in Austria).

    I wonder what the view of Mrs May (Prime Minister May) is on this question? I think I can guess…..

    As with the “Woke” BBC (only the other day the local Member of Parliament was saying how “Ofcom” just ignored formal complaints, with overwhelming evidence, about the bias of the BBC- in relation to the European Union) the “Woke” education system (the “Critical Theory” schools and universities) is the pride and joy of the Prime Minister. Social Justice and the “equality and diversity agenda” is dear to her heart.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed and Paul,

    Is homeschooling in Britain subject to various requirements, such as a requirement that the child be tested periodically for knowledge of X or Y or Z? Or to psychological “evaluations,” or anything equally outrageous?

  • John B

    ‘… but would help people meet other Britons from different social backgrounds.‘

    Wasn’t that supposed to be the rationale for comprehensive education and what does Chukkie Chicken think happens at university or in the work place?

    The people for whom there should be national service to ensure they meet others of different backgrounds, are politicians who live in a little World apart and remote.

  • EdMJ



    If the council wants to check on your child’s education:

    The council can make an ‘informal enquiry’ to check your child is getting a suitable education at home. They can serve a school attendance order if they think your child needs to be taught at school.

    And the usual source of FUD on these things:

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thanks very much, EdMJ. It seems to me that the laws vary among the States here, and I’m very much against governmental involvement in education, so I’m interested in how it works elsewhere, and especially in Britain.

    I see the “Grauniad” has several pieces on the issue. Should be interesting reading. And thanks for the gov.uk link. :>))

  • Runcie Balspune

    For the record, my own children have had less than gratifying experiences with the current NCS, in their service they experienced intolerance and bullying.

    For the record, my children have lower melatonin levels than Mr Umunna.

    For the record, the intolerant ones assumed that my children had come from “posh” homes and were therefore subject to ridicule and harassment.

    For the record, my home is about average for a person of my age and relative to my earnings over many decades.

    The “social apartheid” that Mr Umunna refers to is not, as he imagines, the wealthy pushing down on the less fortunate, but rather, in my experience, those with less financial security prepared to challenge, often physically, those with more financial security, and egged on by Mr Umunna’s previous party policy of “for the many not the few” and the general leftist degrading of anyone who may have committed the eternal socialist sin of bettering themselves and becoming marginally more successful than average.

    And this is coming from someone who owns a nice collection of fancy, and not inexpensive, watches, as if an average person needs more than one, like, few not many.

    The world of rich people oppressing the great unwashed is a fantasy in Umunna’s mind, the reality is the problem of imported mob violence and religious and cultural intolerance started mainly in part by his political party to get more votes.

  • Stephen Houghton

    This brings up the interesting question of civic virtue and the libertarian state. How should those who hold the state in being be rewarded for doing so.

  • staghounds

    An “all volunteer” military works better unless there is an unpleasantly unpopular war. Or an existential one. Or you don’t have enough pay to keep the mercenaries from bypassing the middleman.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    I have a standard response to things like this.