Hey, youth of Britain, if MP Philip Hollobone gets his way, this could be you in a couple of years! (Photo via)
Britain, as I'm sure you know, is broken. According to Philip Hollobone, a Conservative MP – a breed of people renowned for being thoroughly engaged with the country's youth – the best way to fix that problem is to reinstate compulsory service, either in a charitable or military role. He's so convinced, in fact, that he's sponsored a bill to do just that. Mind you, this is the guy who's also tabled a bill to ban "face coverings" (burqas) in public, so his views might not exactly be representative of everyone else who's going to end up voting on the proposal.
Given that everyone in Britain is apparently lazy and apathetic, I wanted to see if anyone cared about anything any more, so I went to ask some strangers I bumped into in the street what they thought of Hollobone's idea.
Jamie: It would be a no from me. I just don’t think it’s a positive thing to be sending people into a military lifestyle. I’m not very pro-military, full stop. I just don’t think there’s any great need for it.
Well, the argument is that some inner city scoundrels might need sorting out, apparently.
I think there’s a better way to communicate with the youth than just sending them off and beating the crap out of them. I think actually talking to them like human beings and engaging with them, which adults – probably myself included – don’t do. Especially politicians. Giving them youth facilities and things to entertain them, as well as something to work towards, would be a bit more constructive.
Something a bit less regimented?
There’s also an attitude, which I've been guilty of, of seeing kids in the street and assuming they’re up to no good. It’s probably true about one percent of the time, but we’re pushed that story by predominantly right-wing newspapers and media. We both know that’s usually not true. So yeah, it's a big no from me.
Esa: I’m not from around here – I’m from South Africa. But it sounds like it’s not a good idea. We don’t have anything like that in South Africa, and I don’t think it’s a good way to get people thinking for themselves. Plus, it’s extra dangerous with all the wars we have going on at the moment.
It heightens the chance of ending up in the firing line?
Yeah, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to force people to put their lives at risk. That’s no way to run a country. I have a lot of Israeli friends in South Africa and they weren’t always pleased about having to put themselves in danger. It doesn’t seem fair.
Terry: I would say yes, we should. I think there’s quite a big lack of discipline in this country and it might also help get people on the work ladder. There are good careers in the forces and they might learn some skills. Even if they don’t want to stay in [the army], those schools could be useful in work.
It might help them get employment?
I think so, yeah. I’m 65 in December, so I just missed it [when it was in place from 1939 to 1960], and I think I really missed out by not doing it. I think I might have ended up in a different career as opposed to just going straight into a job because I needed the money.
What did you end up doing?
I went for transport, and now here I am, years later, still in transport. I’m useless at DIY, but I could have ended up with the skills to work as something like an electrician or a plumber. I could be in Australia now, working somewhere nice and warm. So personally, I think it’s a bit of a missed opportunity. It probably shows my age – I imagine a lot of people my age would say the same thing.
Yeah, most the younger people I've spoken to seem opposed to it, whereas the older people are into it.
That’s cos the younger people think, 'Oh shit!' Oh sorry, I shouldn’t swear.
That's fine by me, Terry.
Alex: I would say no – I don’t think we need a more militarised society. I don’t think more violence is a good idea and I don’t think we really need to be prepared for any more wars.
What about the argument that some young people need to be put on the straight and narrow?
Giving people that kind of top-down authority is not really the answer, because you release them back into society and they’re still not able to make good decisions. I think you need to let people think for themselves.
Julie (left) and Ariela.
Julie: I would say definitely not. But I’m not from this country – I’m from Belgium, and we cancelled compulsory service a few years ago.
And where are you from?
Ariela: I’m from the US. I think I’m less adamantly opposed. I think it could be a good idea, so long as there’s a definite opt-out, so that people who are opposed to fighting or doing something in the military can do some other sort of service.
Like in Germany, where you can volunteer as a fireman or something? That's what’s being proposed over here.
Yeah, or cut down trees or drive an ambulance or whatever. As long as you have compulsory service, but it’s not necessarily military, I think I would be OK with it. I think compulsory service can do good things for a country and its youth.
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