The UK Conservatives should not bring back Mandatory National Service, and here’s why!

Estimated read time 2 min read
Photo credit UK Parliament on Flicker, Licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent pledge to reintroduce compulsory National Service, should the Conservative Party emerge victorious in the upcoming July 4th national election, has ignited a fierce debate.

The proposal to resurrect a policy that Britain abandoned over six decades ago has sparked a nationwide discussion and a flood of mocking memes and critical comments, underscoring the contentious nature of this issue.

Sunak announced that 18-year-olds will either join the armed forces on placement or participate in community volunteering. But the concept of military National Service – officially ending on December 31, 1960, with the last conscripts discharged in May 1963 – has really lit the touchpaper.

As with many government initiatives, this proposed policy is notably vague on crucial specifics. Implementing such a large-scale program would undoubtedly pose significant logistical and financial challenges. Funding, infrastructure, and training implications require meticulous consideration, yet no information on these vital aspects has been provided.

It’s crucial to consider the political landscape in which this proposal exists. Its fate hinges on the Conservative Party securing a majority, a scenario that appears unlikely based on current polls. Furthermore, the policy is unlikely to resonate with many young first-time voters, further undermining its political feasibility and potentially impacting the election outcome.

We should question whether mandatory service achieves its goal of encouraging purposeful living. The National Service’s concept of training young people for war poses a significant moral question.
Voluntary community service programs already exist and may be more effective as young people choose to participate rather than be obligated to serve.

As a former youth worker in Yorkshire, UK, I’ve seen the importance of encouraging individuals to decide how and when they want to contribute to society, and the idea of imposing mandatory National Service on young people goes against their freedom of choice.

Even cabinet members have expressed concerns, with former Major General James Cleverly acknowledging that reinstating national service is “daunting” and involves pushing people out of their comfort zones.

This special piece for Epistle News UK is by Dawn-Maria France, the award-winning Editor-in-Chief of Yorkshire Women’s Life Magazine and a dedicated mental health campaigner.