ON FRIDAY, the details of a Bill aiming to bring in a new form of national service will be revealed.
For now, the details of the Private Member’s Bill put forward by Kettering Tory MP Philip Hollobone remain hazy. But its existence has sparked a series of internet petitions demanding that military service will not be enforced in the UK.
One, on Change.org, reads: “We do not want our children and grandchildren to be forced to undertake military-style training or conscription in to the military for any reason that is not voluntary.”
Mr Hollobone moved to reassure people that if the Bill, which is supposed to “provide a system of national service for young persons”, would not involve military conscription and branded much online speculation as “totally misleading and inaccurate”.
Even so, the Bill raises an interesting question: should youngsters be pushed into some kind of mandatory service?
The Leader put the question to Wrexham and Flintshire residents.
Pete Bartley, 41, of Flint, thought the idea was a cynical ploy to target youngsters not in education or training.
He said: “They have to change their unemployment figures somehow.
“How would it make them independent? Ripping young people away from friends and families, and forcing them under penalty of heavy fines or jail-time into service would make them anything but independent.”
Tricia Yesildal, 46, of Flint, had a similar suspicion. She said: “There are good points and bad points to everything.
“It could just be the Government’s way of getting more money off the people who have to buy themselves out. They are robbing this country enough already.”
Bob Rooke, 32, of Sandycroft, likened forced national service to “slavery”.
However, Donna Hopkins, 28, of Connah’s Quay, said: “Yes, bring it back, at least for youths that refuse to work and live off the dole.”
Elwyn Evans, 51, of Wrexham, said: “Yes, I’m all for it. Get these thugs off the streets.”
Tom Jones, 29, of Wrexham, thought the measure could instil good qualities in some youngsters,
He said: “Some people aren’t lucky enough to be taught respect and discipline and are left to run riot. They never get jobs because hand-outs are readily available. I think you should put in the pot before you’re allowed to take out of it.”
However, Tom also took issue with the labelling of young people as “thugs”, as did Chris Cleverley, 25, of Wrexham.
Chris said: “While we’re at it, let’s ban all women off the roads because they are all such bad drivers and let’s get all old people into nursing homes because they can’t look after themselves.
“I’m sure there are a few more stereotypes I’m missing out on but you catch my drift! There are older thugs as well as younger ones.”
Chris Waters, 42, of Rhosllanurugog, agreed with the idea in theory.
He said: “I believe there should be a choice of further education, employment or national service.
“Benefits shouldn’t be an option. That means people will learn skills rather than being left to rot on the welfare state. National service doesn’t just mean military – it could encompass things to aid society.”
Sue Bonney, 39, of Queensferry, agreed.
She said: “Some people should be forced to get a job.
“There are too many young and older people out there with no respect for anything in this world and expect things handed to them on a plate.
“My father, who is 74, still works doing a paper round because nobody wants to do it.
“I say bring it back. It’s worth a try because soon we won’t have a world for our children to grow up in.”
However, Sue Allen, 62, of Wrexham, worried that mandatory service could interrupt people’s careers, while Janet Jones, of Wrexham, said it was a “Tory upper crust idea” and argued more effort should go into creating proper jobs for young people.
Daniel Hughes, 66, of Flint said: “I think military service might do a lot of good because of the lack of opportunities young people have to work. But then again there’s that many wars, it’s a difficult one.
“In the past I have sat in the pub and said ‘bring it back’, and I do think it would be a good thing overall.
“There are other countries that still have it and it works for them.”