Greater opportunity, not National Service, will engage our young people – Scotsman comment

The UK Government should focus on ways to give young people a greater stake in society, like helping them get on the property ladder

Rishi Sunak has sought to defend his plans for ‘compulsory’ national service by saying it would strengthen the UK’s defence and make society “more cohesive”. He wants to legally require 18-year-olds to carry out a 12-month placement in the armed forces or cyber defence or spend time doing volunteer work, although apparently no one will be sent to jail for refusing.

Criticism from ex-military leaders that national service would redirect funds from more effective methods of defence has undermined his first point. While some Conservatives might welcome the move, Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker clearly wasn’t one of them, saying: “History has proven time and time again that liberty under law, not compulsion and planning, is the surest road to peace and prosperity.”

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Sunak’s second point could strike a chord with those who believe today’s youth are disaffected and apathetic. However, a better method of fostering greater social cohesion among the young generation would be to ensure they have a realistic hope of getting on the housing ladder. Citizens with a real stake in society are more likely to look upon it fondly, and even fight for it.



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