Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Tory Policy Everyone Can Unite Behind

David Cameron has got the best coverage in The Sun this morning that he has had since he bcame Party leader. The Sun highlights Cameron's excellent policy idea of encouraging 16 year olds to take part in a six week stint of 'national' service. It's not a stunt and it's extremely well thought out, as the article clearly demonstrates.

Every 16-year-old will be expected to devote their summer holiday to “patriotic” national service under radical Tory plans to be unveiled today. They will give up six weeks to put something back into Britain. David Cameron will launch his plan for a National Citizen Service with boxing champ Amir Khan. Youngsters going into adulthood will be able to take part in a mini triathlon, military training or the Three Peaks Challenge. Others will get the chance to work with old folk, charities and even travel overseas helping Third World countries.

Mr Cameron exclusively told The Sun: “This will make people feel proud about themselves and about their country. “It will mix people from different backgrounds.
“North and south, black and white, rich and poor. They will be putting something back into the community. “It will be a way of learning respect for our country and each other, just like national service was. “This could really change our country for the better. “I feel very passionate about this. It should be a part of every child’s
experience. “You should go from primary school to secondary and then at 16 your citizen service. We cannot afford not to do this.” Teenagers will NOT be forced by law to take part in the NCS. Experts say that would be the wrong way to encourage the 650,000 16-year-olds each year to participate. Instead, they say the scheme should become so attractive it will become a natural part of growing up.

Employers will take note of those who include NCS work on their CV. Students will qualify for a cash award on completing their course. Half of it will go to the organisation with which they worked. The other 50 per cent will be donated to a charity of the individual’s choice. They will only complete the course after making a personal appearance in front of organisers. During this they must pledge allegiance to Britain, say what they have learned and declare which charity they have chosen
and why. Tories say the scheme will help foster a “can do” spirit and boost
their chances of a job. It will increase self-confidence and help “drifters”
gain a sense of focus. Teens will be able to go to Third World nations to work on projects. Bookish swots will be shown there is more to life than just exams. And those in danger of turning to crime will learn to respect others and their communities.
Youngsters who finish the course will attend a “graduation ceremony” with their family and friends.

A document published today by the Tories says: “Whether individuals are leaving school, moving on from their GCSEs to another qualification, or have dropped out of the system altogether, our national programme would take them out of their comfort zones, provide them with a chance to mix with others away from home. “It will give
them a challenging mission to fulfil and enable them to be stretched in an environment they would never, otherwise, have encountered. In the middle of the
last century National Service helped prepare young people for adult life, as
well as bringing Britain together in one shared, classless, patriotic mission.”

Now, just watch as Gordon Brown steals the policy in his usual magpie-like fashion.
UPDATE: Just heard a fantastic 30 minute discussion on this with Michael Gove and youth workers who reckoned that the Tories were onto something.


The Hitch said...


I can just see the queues to join up.
Im begininng to like Cameron , everyday he gives me something new to laugh at.
He's Boris Johnson with better hair and less common sense.

towcestarian said...

Non-compulsory wold give an opt-out for those who need it the most, compulsory would be very difficult to manage/supervise, 6 weeks is too short to make any difference and more than 6 weeks would be unaffordable. Apart from that, it sounds like a good way for middle class parents to get the brats out of the house during the summer holidays...

Anonymous said...

Seems a bite too Stalinist - but if it saves Rock and North Cornwall from the drunken antics of hooray henrys in midsummer it deserves support.

Yak40 said...

Only six weeks ?

Chris Paul said...

Six weeks? That's Outward Bound not National Service.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a great idea, but I'd be surprised if there was a huge take-up in the absense of some form of payment for the children.

With students racking up more and more debt of various kinds once they've left school, spending a whole summer not earning anything is that attractive. In the USA you get bursaries for further education as well as getting paid for these types of projects.

Anonymous said...

"UPDATE: Just heard a fantastic 30 minute discussion on this with Michael Gove and youth workers who reckoned that the Tories were onto something."

Are you sure they didn't way "on something"?

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

every 16 year old "will be expected" to attend summer camp.

Don't tell me - anything else pertaining to any form of cohesion would contravene the human rights act.

On a seperate issue:
Does the Human Rights act allow consription?

special prize to anyone who can be arsed to find out.

Anonymous said...

I am one of the Cionservatives taken for granted by Cameron and the other inexperienced dreamers. National Service was deeply resented by my generation as an utter waste of time. The thought of nuclear war in those days kept me awake at night. With Russian bombers bugging our airspace can I have confidence in this boy having a finger hovering over the nuclear button? Or a schoolboy in charge of the economy? No, I can't and nor can many others which is one reason why Cameron flatlines in the polls.

Hughes Views said...

Yes Hitch (not often I'm tempted to type that) - making it voluntary seems an excellently daft idea. I bet all the naughty kids with unsupportive parents just can't wait to sign up...

SimonD said...

I was with him right up to the point about pledging allegiance. Allegiance to what? The monarch, and head of the established Church? To the UK, or to England / Scotland / Wales / NI / whatever? What about non-UK nationals resident in Britain, by choice or not? The 'patriotic' bit seems artificially slapped-on to make it more appealing to the old-school. But I suppose if you said it was about 'social responsibility', the exact same proposal would seem too lefty.

Anonymous said...

I thought this wasn't a bad idea, although the period of service should be a minimum of two months, but then I saw that Cameron had drunk his daily cup of stupid.

"Teens will be able to go to Third World nations to work on projects."


Africa doesn't have enough teeming millions of young people of its own to work on "projects"?

Illiterate and innumerate products of the failed Marxist British education system have something to offer Africa? What, exactly? And who's going to pay for them to go to Africa? Not the Africans, who have better qualified people of their own. Oh! Just a guess here but, the British taxpayer, who already pours hundreds of millions of pounds annually down Africa's hungry maw?

I believe there are plenty of projects in Britain that could benefit from some enthusiastic volunteers.

This is Cameron's problem. He thinks trite. Times have moved on - around 40 years - since JFK's Peace Corps.

Tapestry said...

I am sick of drunk 16 year olds smashing up my property, vomiting from drink and leaving condoms lying around the place. Thank God Cameron's come up with a way to busy them. I remember my time as a 14 year old learning to navigate on MFVs on the Clyde. It was only a week, but the details of the trip are etched on my mind for life. It is essentail to get young people motivated again, and that means getting them away from their mobiles, laptops,TVs and games consoles.

Anonymous said...

Multi-culti volunteerism with menaces. How attractive is that?

Anonymous said...

Just shows what DC can achieve with a professional media operation.

Why didn't he appoint a proper Press Sec until Coulson?

Newmania said...

HItch as ever looking on thedown side. Looks like a good idea to me oddly enought its one I saw being suggested by Compass the l;eft wing think tank. They see it as a way of inculcating a sort of ghastly multicultural brown plasticine mess . What exactly are the rules of the camp going to be .Thats the point .

It is agood idea though and if girls are coming to what a great way to get you end away for the first-ish time ..smoking .. vandalism...ah how I used to love Scouts

Weygand said...

Another hopeless gimmick.

Leaving aside the impossibility of finding interseting things for so many kids to do, it will of course only attract the well adjusted kids who are already doing Duke of Edinburgh or equivalent.

Only somebody who believes there are fairies at the bottom of the garden would expect ASBO lads to sign up to any such scheme.

It's all very reminiscent of TB suggesting that hooligans be marched off to the nearest cash machine.

The stupidity of it all makes me want to weep.

Anonymous said...

I actually think it's a good idea, but disagree with Iain's assertion that it's well thought out. It hasn't been 'costed'.

Apart from that, I think it's great!

Richard said...

I actually think that this initiative will soon gather momentum on its own accord. The chance to travel abroad, complete a Duke of Edinburgh-style challenge by climbing the Peaks, or benefiting from the kind of military training that is often glamourised on television nowadays would surely be appealing to the average 16 year-old. The benefits, meanwhile, would not be exclusively felt by our country, either, as the added feeling of self-worth and "can do" attitude will benefit the individual's career potential.

One of the rare times that Cameron has announced a thoroughly decent idea, and one that sounds perfectly workable. My only query: will the individual be expected to pay for the travel costs to the Third World country?

Anonymous said...

We've already got this in Scotland its called 'the Army'.

Ask Rose Gentle.

PS What are the Three Peaks? : )

The Hitch said...

Mr Mania
I dont look on the downside I just look at the practicalities.
This is yet more proof that Cameron hasnt a clue.
he could have suggested that the little buggers were all forced to go and clean hospital wards for a six weeks , wipe bottoms and feed those that cant feed themselves , but no, his suggestion is that we invite them to go on a tax payer funded safari.
What a............

Yak40 said...

tapestry, good stuff !

Don't they have cadets/CCF or Sea Cadets etc any more ?

David Boothroyd said...

apI can guarantee you Gordon Brown won't steal this one. As Conor Ryan points out, David Blunkett had the idea first in 1995, and went on to introduce it while in government. So really it's Cameron stealing off Labour. We should be proud, really.

sockpuppet said...

Yes, I thought the DofE awards could do with an image change too.

Unlike the Hitch, I quite like DC. But honestly, this amounts to "wasn't life better when people were in the scouts."

And who is going to pay for it?

Sorry, stupid question.

Anonymous said...

This is most odd......Who got there first?

Roger Thornhill said...

Teenagers will NOT be forced by law to take part in the NCS...Instead, they say the scheme should become so attractive it will become a natural part of growing up.

Spot on. Facilitate, create opportunities.

Students will qualify for a cash award on completing their course.

No. No. No. This is the idiotic bribe culture that seems to possess people these days.

Apart from that, it is good. I hope it expands beyond 6 weeks at 16 to include gap year activities.

Just make sure Grabber Gordon does not nick it, otherwise it will become 6 weeks of PC indoctrination and climate fetishism.

Anonymous said...


It doesnt need to be costed, its being run for years very successfully.

Thousands of good Scots have died for the 'classless' patriotic venture.

They joined that brave troop called 'C. Fodder' and marched away in Belfast and Basra do the Queens bidding. What's this 'costing' you speak of?

Newmania said...

but then I saw that Cameron had drunk his daily cup of stupid.

Verity, I wish you were mor supportive of the wide constituency neede to dislodge Brown but I have to admit , you are damn good value.

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea. I would have loved to do something like this.

Daily Referendum said...

That is without a doubt the best political policy I have heard from any party - ever.

I hope this comes to pass. This is a real election winner, and I believe it could really work.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Cameron could get down on both knees and beg Patrick Mercer to run it for him.

Anonymous said...

Roger Thornhill writes: "I hope it expands beyond 6 weeks at 16 to include gap year activities."

Gap year? Gap year between what? Juvenile detention centres and prison?

And for the middle classes, a "gap year" is now to become a human right funded by working people? Have you people all taken leave of your senses? Are any of you tethered to reality?

This isn't how a successful society works. Dave needs to concentrate on slashing the dependency culture - certainly if he can make a start by running boot camps, fine, but it's not a long term solution. It's the culture that is toxic. It needs to be chopped to pieces. Putting bandaids on such a wounded society is not going to work.

Tony said...

Dave has just lost a load of votes in Scotland, Wales and the Lake District, where they all want a lot less people doing the three peaks not more.
I'll have post him a copy of the guidance leaflet:

Anonymous said...

Oh Iain, how can it be "extremely well thought out" when it isn't even costed. Get real.

And will providing financial incentives (or as other unkindly put it, 'bribes') people to do it fost a sense of national pride? Surely paying them to do it defeats the purpose.

16 year olds are old enough to work and do a lot of other things. There are even calls for them to vote at 16. So should we really be making them do this sort of thing? Call me old fashioned but I had a weekend job as a 16 yearold, earning my own money and paying taxes...

Finally, If you think it's such a good idea, why not commit yourself to hosting some of these "national service" placements as guest writers for your blog? Their policy ideas are likely to be more interesting that this Tory guff (and I mean this seriously)


Anonymous said...

Note the "i'll give EU vote" column to the right of that article. Did you struggle to get it that time, Iain?!

Anonymous said...

just watch as Gordon Brown steals the policy in his usual magpie-like fashion

No need, it seems ... One of my readers has pointed out that GB launched something called the V scheme to encourage volunteering and community action in May 2006. I confess I had not heard of this previously, so I don't know how great its impact is. Anyone else know?

Manfarang said...

You mean borstal,surely?

Anonymous said...

Needs to be backed with some sort of sanction - those that don't do it can't buy booze/smoke fags/send text messages/have sex/vote/be a contestant on X factor. Something to get their attention until they complete it.

But I think Cameron is tapping into the prevailing mood of exasperation about the state of society - and will get marks for trying to address the problem.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't this suggest that DC no longer trusts 16 year olds to make their own informed choices about 'volunteering' and freedom to choose?

David Lindsay said...

All manner of economic, social, cultural (not least, academic) and political good would be done if, between the secondary and the tertiary stages, there were universal non-military, but nevertheless uniformed, ranked and barracked National Service, doing good works while travelling around the country and beyond, and while meeting significantly broadening the range of one’s friends and acquaintances. For rather longer than one summer, of course.

As much as anything else, for those who went on to universities, it would drain the swamps of Marxism (including neoconservatism) and anarchism (including anarcho-capitalism), which the students would arrive far too worldly-wise to consider for one moment. Too bad for many of the lecturers, but then that generation is on the way out anyway.

Callum said...

Non compulosory service would prbably have very few people taking part, most 16 year olds have jobs, and the ones who don't have jobs are lazy (i can say that, being a young person). Silly idea, never going to happen not in a million years. Continues to prove the tories lack of touch with the average young person.

Anonymous said...

It looks absolutely brilliant to me. I wish it had been around when I was sixteen, it would have given me some direction and something to do; instead I had a very dull and depressing summer 2001. Come to think of it September wasn't much fun that year either...

Anonymous said...

"Illiterate and innumerate products of the failed Marxist British education system have something to offer Africa? What, exactly?"

Verity, Maybe they could be put on Barbecue duty ? I suspect some of these obese hoodies would be quite acceptable with some barbecue sauce?

Geezer said...

I agree with others on here.
Expensive waste of time. It will only be used by the type of kids who need this stuff the least because it is voluntary. I suppose that if it is pushed via all schools, then it could have a big uptake, but the costs and general organisation seem like they might be prohibitive. Who is actually going to work with the kids? Or rather at 16, they aren't really kids anymore. Little chav Herberts, will already be fully fledged delinquents by that age and clearly won't get involved, and I suppose, getting under 16s involved isn't practical because of the special supervision that is required. Over 16s means they can use any old students or whoever to help run these programmes, at minimal cost and without the effort of elaborate vetting procedures. I suspect, that rather than helping 3rd world projects (do they really want a bunch of sixteen year olds going to some disease ridden, third world war zone? Would you let your 16 year old daughter go to places like that?), most will end up pulling trolleys out of the local canal and cleaning graffiti that the other kids have done, who aren't involved with the scheme!

Anonymous said...

Great idea. Maybe Dave can turn things around.

John Trenchard said...

errr.. we're not citizens. we subjects of Her Majesty.

and i dont care what the Maastrict treaty says. Even though I am a republican, I do recognise that we are still a constitutional monarchy - and its about bloody time that our politicans stopped pretending that we are living in a Republic. We aren't.

vanfuertes said...

'Pledging allegiance' to Britain as part of charitable national service? The introduction of a 'Bill of Rights'?

If there's one country I don't want to take any ideas from it's the US. What a tosser.

Vienna Woods said...

We have National Service here in Austria. Every youngster must do their 6 Month military service, or a longer period in a social service such as the ambulance, fire brigade (or whatever). We don't have anything like the UK hooliganism here, except from amongst the so-called refugees and half legal immigrants from the old east Europe, and the drug dealing Africans.

Madasafish said...

The hitch speaks bollocks as usual.

He suggests it would be better to send them all to work in hospitals.
Apart from the risks of catching MRSA - or worse.. can you imagine a bunch of 16 year olds trying to claen wards, removing drips by accident with a broom, or other such stoopid accidents? The scope for deaths and injuries of patients and yoofs alike is very high.

Frankly most of ths so called Conservative supporters on here sound as out of touch and useless as they claim DC is.

At least he tries. The rest of you mainly carp. Small wonder - if you are representative, that conservatives are disliked.

I am ashamed of most of you.. you come over as sour uncaring bastards... stuck in the 1980s..

Please try to give constructive and sensible - ie real world criticism.

As for dismantling dependency and the welfae state? I agree. A great idea. What chance of winning an election with that as a platform? Absolultely NIL.. Why? Well if you don't recognise the arithmetic .. about 90% of the population rely on state schooling and the NHS. Will they vote to dismantle that? Nope.

Some of you should live in the real universe let alone world.

Johnny Norfolk said...

It must be compulsary or the ones that realy need it will never go.

Agian he is showing weakness by not understanding what has to be done,

Anonymous said...

It's a great idea.

Well done to Gordon Brown for raising it in 2002.

Has Johan Eliasch taken up his post advising the PM on climate change yet? Because he's about to if not.

Helen said...

Errm, scouts, guides, cadets, Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, Prince's Trust - I could go on for a long time. Why precisely do they need to be superseded by an uncosted state run scheme that appeals to youth workers? Why not let schools offer cadet corps or some civic duty scheme as part of the package to parents? No extra bureaucratic layers and co-ordination with curriculum and timetable. Simple. Of course, that would mean having schools and parents running the education not officials. A voucher system, in fact. Like they have in Sweden. Remember?

Anonymous said...

Madasafish, nice to see that sometime during the day you had your cup of stupid. As in:

"As for dismantling dependency and the welfae state? I agree. A great idea. What chance of winning an election with that as a platform? Absolultely NIL.. Why? Well if you don't recognise the arithmetic .. about 90% of the population rely on state schooling and the NHS. Will they vote to dismantle that? Nope. Some of you should live in the real universe let alone world."

There could be a revolution to kill dependency on the manipulative, malign state.

Yank the "benefits" - what a manipulative word - aka "charity enforced by law - away. Yes. Like that! Official announcement: "If you are able bodied, you will need to find work in whatever form that will give you an income, however below what you consider your standards, because the taxpayer won't be doing this any more."

The Americans in most states do it: even though you have actually been employed in Texas and have paid in, you get, if I remember rightly, 13 weeks. After which, zero. You learn to ask "Do you want fries with that?" or you don't eat or pay your electricity or phone bill. Your choice.

Leaving aside the Pakistanis, who are a tremendous burden on the NHS (which shouldn't, in any case, exist) British people would have to compete with Poles for actual work. Frankly, if you want to give your country away, it could not be ceded to a better bunch than the Poles.

The Hitch - I don't agree that Cameron has better hair than Boris. I don't like Boris, but his hair is very cute.

Anonymous said...

Its a moronic idea.

Athos said...

Devil's advocat:
In contrast to what a lot of people are implying, it doesn't have to be a fully fledged system to have been well thought out. As systems go, it is designed to address a variety of issues that mean something to a lot of people, without being locked dogmaticly into a prescribed pattern: i.e. it implies that there is room for the concept to adapt to the threats and opportunities that it encounters... something the incumbent government's authoritarian centralised dictats are incapable of.

To those who object to bribing the children, read on... for the quote says that half will go to the people who the youth is helping (incentive for other people to have them) and the other half goes to a charity (encouraging them to research and care about a cause).
As for the "its not mandatory" crowd, I would say that that remains a good thing and his approach of encouraging employers and universities to think better of those who go on the scheme is a much better incentive than trying to have the police drag off every youth in the country.

And to others who cite a variety of schemes the government has introduced I can only say that one group has failing does not prevent another succeeding... even if the schemes were as identical as you are trying to paint them.

Anonymous said...

Is the sort of brave new thinking Cameron has promised - national service?

What about birching? Hanging? This reminds me of the good old days with the Chingford Skinhead in the Winter Gardens.

Guthrum said...

Guthrum the Younger aged 16 has not stopped laughing, that will get the young vote, not - why are the 18-30 year olds vomiting in towns and city centres every Friday/Saturday night being called up for six weeks for National Service. Cameron is just a cretin for suggesting this- Ah the voice of Youth.
Guthrum the Younger is holding down a part time job, doing GCSE's, Doing Duke of Edinburgh's and saving for a moped.
I think he has got his priorities right as an individual, rather than need the state to compel him to do something

Pogo said...

Not a bad idea... A bl**dy-awful idea!

Can anyone in their right mind imagine droves of the ASBO-generation voluntarily signing up to run round mountains? The only kids that this scheme might even vaguely help are the ones who are least likely to use it.

Make it compulsary? Well, lets consider the options...

The old system of military "National Service" was only able to keep resentful, fit and agressive young men in check because (a) there was still a considerable sense of discipline in society and (b) there were some pretty draconian punishments (and a lot of violence) to enforce the rules, hence one Sergeant used to be able to control a platoon of 30+ blokes without being in too much risk of his life.

How many "sergeants", armed with what, would be needed in these "softly softly" PC days to try and stop a rabble of totally undisciplined, sullen and resentful 16 year-olds doing precisely what they wanted or dishing out a good kicking to the staff before b*ggering-off home...

Anonymous said...

David Cameron and Amir Khan -

Amir Khan promotes a violent sport, has a criminal record, preaches about 'religion and family'. A good role model? No, thank you. Am I jaded? :)