Candidate slams Sunak’s “Dad’s Army” national service plan

27 May 2024
A man showing two apprentices how to use a machine.

Paul Ray calls proposal “untenable and unworkable”

Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate Paul Ray has criticised Prime Minister Sunak’s plan to introduce national service, calling it an “act of total desperation” and “political gimmickry”.

Ray, who also leads the Liberal Democrat group in Lichfield District Council, was reacting to the announcement that if Sunak wins the election and has his way, 18-year-olds will be required to sign up for a year of national service, either in the armed forces or in community service.

“The Liberal Democrats, along with all other parties, wish to see a strong and secure Britain,” said Ray. “This is not the way to go about it. The training and administration of 30,000 raw recruits, as planned, will absorb many of the remaining resources of the military and security forces, already stretched to beyond breaking point by the incompetence of successive Conservative governments, who have cut the size of the Army alone by 27,000. At the end of the day, we will end up with a joke of a Dad’s Army, but without the humour.”

Regarding the community service option, Ray said, “Community service is always a key part of British life, and here in Lichfield we have an amazing collection of volunteer groups. However, if their efforts are diluted by having to manage and organise groups of unwilling conscripts, their effectiveness is diminished. Young people want prospects and skills so that they can support themselves and their families in the future. Government funding for our young people should be focussed on areas like the education system and apprenticeships, so that they have skills for the future.

“The estimated cost of this proposed programme will be £2.5 billion – money for which I am sure we could all find better uses. If we have that much money to spend, for heaven’s sake, let’s use it to fix the social care system and unblock NHS beds.

“This whole announcement, seemingly without any thought or preparation, is an act of total desperation. The Tories know that they will lose the General Election, and that their polling figures in the under 25s are in single digits anyway. They are terrified that many of their older core voters will desert them for Reform UK unless they come out with a plan – even if they know it’s untenable and unworkable. This is pure political gimmickry.”


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