I kid ye not!
Prime Minister Gordon Brown plans to make it part of the next Labour manifesto, he said yesterday.
But what’s really going on?
Brown chose to make his announcement in the gaudily extreme and populist Murdoch title, The News of the World. (see Kids’ charity call-up: Brown planning to force 50 hours work on teens ). Why not the excellent No10 website which shows a different mindset to everything?
The reactions in the NOTW article and other tabloids have been suitably strong, and that I think, is the reason for it’s publication in the NOTW. It’s to gauge the mood and set the trend; there’s an election looming! He’s out-stepped the Tories in right-winged-ness!
However, on the No10 website there’s an article where the PM confirms that our community policing is to stay (see Neighbourhood policing “here to stay”). In this, and combined with the above, I see his communal spirit pushing through. It’s a recognition of the fact that communities, to a large extent, police themselves.
For instance, it’s well known that large matriarchal figures exist on the large estates and have a huge governance on the internal running of schools. Ask any teacher. This governance is totally outside the law. It’s a fact of life.
I see Brown’s overall words as trying to offer a concrete substance to this fact.
But it’s the way it’s done that’s bad. It tars all young people with the same brush, when clearly, we and they are all individuals. I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all solution, like a National Service for free. Altruism comes from within, and to impose it from without isn’t altruism and doesn’t enforce a sense of social responsibility. Quite the opposite. People will see it as Big Brother, like Comrade Stalin forcing the crowds to smile for the camera. They’ll smile, but they’ll hate it and reject it.
But it’ll please the Colonel Blimps and outraged-from-Tunbridge-Wells types for a bit. It may keep their votes his way.