Philip Hollobone MP: the man behind our unwanted bills

Hollobone

Angus Hopes criticises Tory MP Philip Hollobone’s anachronistic proposals.

Tories love tradition. Tory backbenchers really love tradition. Nothing stirs the heart of the middle-aged fringe conservative more than the reprisal of yesteryear. Philip Hollobone MP is a prime example of this phenomenon.

Mr Hollobone is far from a household name; however, he may ring bells for some as the sponsor of the 2013-2014 National Service Bill. This bill essentially states that anyone between the ages of 18-25 will have to partake in one year of national service. Those who do not will be considered guilty of a criminal offence. The scope of the scheme ranges from teaching participants English and Maths skills to developing physical fitness and a ‘smart appearance’. Activities relating to the armed forces are given as option for the year of service.

Those who do not [participate in National Service] will be considered guilty of a criminal offence.

It reads like the stuff of Nigel Farage’s daydreams, which is unsurprising considering that they were contemporaries at Dulwich College. This wing of politics is a breeding ground for the ‘common sense’ brigade to which both men belong. This school of thought subscribes to the notion that the only way to move forward is to go backward. In line with this philosophy, this bill seeks to transform young people from layabout chavs (which they all so evidently are), to uniformed, decent young chaps. The bill is reactionary. It is a response to the picture of youth so frequently portrayed by the media: grainy CCTV images of happy slapping yobs in tracksuits terrorising high streets. He sees the computer generation as too glued to their iPhones, too rude, too aggressive, and in need of an intervention.

The bill is not only wrong on a fundamental rights level, but also plainly unrealistic. Consideration of potential unintended consequences is totally absent. In the UK, upon reaching the age of 18 you are considered an adult. One would hope that we could preserve the fundamental right to be treated as one. Removing people’s autonomy and forcing them to take a year out of their lives to fulfil the wishes of the government should be considered wrong in any modern democracy. Again, the ‘common sense’ brigade may think I’m taking the idea of personal freedom too far. But the bill is also simply impractical. What about those 18-25’s who do have jobs? What about those who have just started their careers? Forcing them to take a year off will have an extremely negative impact on both the employer and the employee. This will not solve youth unemployment. Instead, why not increase the number of youth apprenticeship and training schemes? Why not use the money to lower tuition fees or give greater support to students? The bill solves little; it is born out of phony nostalgia rather than rational thinking.

The [National Service] bill is not only wrong on a fundamental rights level, but also plainly unrealistic.

However, it is not this bill alone that shows Hollobone to be a purveyor of stale, dated thinking. More sinisterly, Hollobone is also the sponsor of the 2013-2014 Capital Punishment Bill which, unsurprisingly, suggests that capital punishment should be reinstated. Whilst the details are yet to be published, the bill is rather self-explanatory. Hollobone is again trying to pull us back in time. Capital punishment was abolished in 1965 and that is the era in which it should be left.

Such ideas should be expected from Hollobone, who was a member of the infamous Monday Club. This club that had its ties with the Conservative Party severed after it gained a reputation as a racist organisation with extreme right ideals. Hollobone was part of the gang of Conservative MPs who presented the Alternative Queen’s speech, which as well as offering the aforementioned ideas of national service and the reinstatement of capital punishment also suggested banning the burqa.

Hollobone and his associates are what the Conservative Party need to distance themselves from. Politicians like him thrive on the idea that they are the voice for the under-represented portion of society. In reality, they are pub politicians who seize upon the chance to label anything as political correctness. Our future should never be placed in these people’s hands – our future lies with progressive ideas of fairness and morality.

4 COMMENTS

  1. The bill is reactionary. It is a response to the picture of youth so frequently portrayed by the media:

    To be fair to Hollobone, he is one of the few MPs who doesn’t rely on the media to get his picture of youth – he is (or at least was – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7845210.stm ) a serving special constable with the Transport Police. I’d venture he sees a sight more of modern youth in the flesh than you do.

    The thing about jobs is easy to get round – in the first four years you just make it compulsory for NEETs, then build it up to include university students etc until it’s fully compulsory in 2020.

    Even after 18 the state can still oblige you to do things you don’t want to – jury service is an example. And your argument ignores what happens in other countries – far from being abolished in 1965, capital punishment is still up and running in many countries, and many countries still have conscription. Admittedly it’s really going out of fashion in Western militaries, for lots of good, military reasons, but that doesn’t mean we can’t at least think about Peace Corps-type activities.

    • I am actually 17 years old so I consider myself perfectly able of commenting on modern youth but I do accept your point to an extent. Hollobone also apparently served in the territorial army which may explain his passion for the idea, but it does not give the bill itself any higher worth.

      In response to your second point, why stop young people from getting on the work ladder or going onto further education as soon as possible and instead force them to spend a year doing service? It serves no benefit. Promoting values and increasing physical fitness is what school is for, if its failing then change curriculums and increase hours of physical education per week. Being in the school system myself I can tell you that PSHE (Physical, Social and Health Education) lessons are a perfect opportunity to introduce ideas like this and are compulsory on our timetables, but (in my school at least) are not taught very well.

      Jury service is not comparable to the entire youth population having to take a year out to fulfill the wishes of a backwards man like Hollobone. Jury service is essential for our society and in upholding the legal system but as I said before no such cause is being served by the national service bill. Finally, capital punishment was indeed abolished in Britain in 1965 and is forbidden by the European human rights convention. It is banned in all EU countries minus Belarus I believe. My arguments against the death penalty are worthy of an entire article in itself, I’m sure you’d disagree with every word of it!

  2. Its true that it is not UKIP policy. My point was that the bill’s roots are found in the same backward thinking from which Farage’s ideas stem from.

  3. Why attempt to associate Nigel Farage with Hollobone’s hair brained scheme. Compulsory national service is not on UKIP’s agenda and never likely to be. Maybe the party doesn’t tick all the boxes to be libertarian, but this authoritarian is certainly is not.

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