Labour rejects Tory’s National Service plan

Labour criticised the initiative, accusing the Conservatives of taking “desperate” measures after reducing the Armed Forces to their smallest size since the Napoleonic era…reports Asian Lite News

Labour has dismissed the Tories’ proposal to reintroduce National Service as a “headline-grabbing gimmick”, media reported.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a new scheme requiring school leavers to complete a 12-month military placement or volunteer one weekend per month to foster a “renewed sense of pride in our country.”

Labour criticised the initiative, accusing the Conservatives of taking “desperate” measures after reducing the Armed Forces to their smallest size since the Napoleonic era, the Telegraph reported.

Liz Kendall, the shadow work and pensions secretary, argued the proposal is an unfunded and superficial attempt to address deeper issues facing young people, such as the need for skills and employment opportunities, the Telegraph reported.

Kendall emphasised that elections should focus on the future rather than nostalgia for the past. The Tories hope this policy will distinguish them from Labour and bolster their image as the party capable of securing the UK’s defence.

No jail for those refusing national service plans

Teenagers would not be sent to jail for refusing to comply with the Tories’ proposed “mandatory” national service, said James Cleverly, the UK Home Secretary.

The Home Secretary said there would be no criminal sanctions for young people if they defied the plans under a Conservative government.

In an apparent pitch to older voters and those who may turn to Reform UK, the Conservatives said volunteering could include helping local fire, police and NHS services, as well as charities, tackling loneliness and supporting elderly people.

Touring broadcast studios on Sunday, Cleverly said the Tories would ensure the scheme “fits with different people’s attitudes and aspirations” after questions arose over whether teenagers would be punished for not taking part.

“There’s going to be no criminal sanction. There’s no one going to jail over this,” he told Sky News’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme.

“This is about dealing with what we know to be the case, which is social fragmentation.”

“Too many young people live in a bubble within their own communities. They don’t mix with people of different religions, they don’t mix with different viewpoints.”

Opposition critics have dismissed the plans as unserious, with Labour saying the pledge would never come to fruition and amounted to “another unfunded commitment.”

The Prime Minister is seeking to draw a dividing line with Keir Starmer’s party on global security following his pledge to raise defence spending to 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product by 2030.

Heightening his attack on Saturday, Sunak said voters would be left “at risk” with the Labour leader in Number 10 because Britain’s enemies would notice that he “doesn’t have a plan.”

Teenagers who choose to sign up for placement in the forces would “learn and take part in logistics, cyber security, procurement or civil response operations,” the Tories said.

The Conservatives said they would form a royal commission, bringing expertise from across the military and civil society to establish the details of what they described as the “bold” national service programme.

The party said this commission would be tasked with bringing forward a proposal for how to ensure the first pilot is open for applications in September 2025.

After that, it would seek to introduce a new “National Service Act” to make the measures compulsory by the end of the next Parliament, the party said.

It estimates the programme will cost 2.5 billion pounds a year by the end of the decade and plans to fund 1 billion pounds through plans to “crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion.”

The remaining 1.5 billion pounds will be paid for with money previously used for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), a key part of the Levelling Up agenda, which supports local charities and community groups, the Tories said.

Keir’s party pointed out that Lord David Cameron introduced a similar scheme – the National Citizen Service – when he was the Prime Minister.

Cameron’s announcement had no military component to it, instead encouraging youngsters to take part in activities such as outdoor education-style courses as part of his “Big Society” initiative.

A Labour spokesperson said: “This is not a plan – it’s a review which could cost billions and is only needed because the Tories hollowed out the armed forces to their smallest size since Napoleon.”

“Britain has had enough of the Conservatives, who are bankrupt of ideas and have no plans to end 14 years of chaos. It’s time to turn the page and rebuild Britain with Labour.”

Liberal Democrat defence spokesperson MP Richard Foord said: “If the Conservatives were serious about defence, they would reverse their damaging cuts to our world-class professional armed forces, instead of decimating them, with swingeing cuts to the number of our regular service personnel.”

“Our armed forces were once the envy of the world. This Conservative government has cut troop numbers and is planning more cuts to the size of the Army.”

“This would be far better spent reversing Conservative cuts to troop numbers.”

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