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.