'Rishi Sunak forgets Covid kids are threatened by dark clouds of war'

'rishi sunak forgets covid kids are threatened by dark clouds of war'

Nigel and his son, Ted

There are moments, admittedly, when the idea of national service for my teenage son fleetingly seems like a good idea.

When he wolfs an entire packet of Jaffa Cakes without offering me one or I find yet another abandoned empty cereal bowl by the side of the sofa, for example. And the thought of my lad brandishing a rifle when he can’t even handle a sweeping brush fills me more with laughter than horror.

But there is a far deeper and scarier side to Rishi Sunak’s latest desperate attempt to capture the fuddy-duddy vote. This came from nowhere and is aimed at those who probably believe every teenage boy should have a short back and sides and, ironically, there is no place for women in the military.

Stand back from the initial shock and there are elements of the plans that may, with proper long-term debate, be worth considering. Putting some youngsters to work in a voluntary capacity may give them a feel for the real world.

Like every other generation there are a small feckless amount who could do with a boot up the backside. And if this bolt from

the blue were to engage some youngsters in politics, then again that’s a good thing.

Back home, my son Ted is 16 now and mid GCSEs. He would be among those who may be asked to do national service if the plan were to come to fruition. The Prime Minister hasn’t thought hard enough about those children who would be the first adult intake or to the bigger threat looming into view.

Sunak stood in the rain and reminded us how as Chancellor he had delivered furlough during Covid. Ted and his peers

effectively lost two years of their life during that time.

Two years of socialising, playing team sport, moving from that world of being a child to a teenager confronted with a world of possibilities. That time was largely spent alone in his bedroom, headphones on, gaming with his pals. He seems resilient and has come through it OK.

But there will be tens of thousands who haven’t. Time will tell the true impact. The Tories say there will be no active service for these kids – and they are kids – during their national service. But we are potentially entering the most volatile global period of my lifetime.

There is an unhinged buffoon ready to enter the White House again, another waging war against Ukraine. China menaces Taiwan, the Middle East has returned to a terrifying powder keg.

Do you trust the Tories to keep that promise if they were to retain power and we were to go to war? I don’t.

This is an act of rushed desperation and there will be more of these policies between now and the General Election on July 4. This government has failed on schools, the NHS, transport, the care system. The list goes on. This latest policy would fail a generation too.

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