Saturday, March 09, 2019

Chuka Umunna reminds us that Centrism is not Liberalism

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Chuka Umunna wish to bring in compulsory national service for 16-year-olds is a reminder that proclaiming you are in the centre does not make you a Liberal.

This combination of muscular Christianity and middle-class impatience with the lower orders was typical of Labour under Blair.

It was also found among the people who joined the SDP, though less so among the politicians who formed it.

I am all in favour of giving young people volunteering opportunities. Come to that, I am in favour of giving older people such opportunities too.

But I am not attracted by the idea of compulsion. Not only does it offend my Liberal sensibilities: I suspect it would make the service hugely unpopular with young people, defeating the hopes Umunna has for it.

Besides, the whole thing is a cop out.

Umunna wants compulsory national service because, as quoted by Metro:
Under his proposal for a ‘citizens’ service’, Mr Umunna acknowledged that ‘it might seem strong medicine’ but was necessary to tackle ‘social apartheid’ in modern Britain. 
He said national service, which ended in the early 1960s, ‘brought people from an array of different backgrounds and different parts of the country together in a way like no other.’
We have social apartheid in Britain because of the class system and the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

The idea that having young people work side by side for a couple of years will overturn all that is hopelessly wet.

Umunna, judging by the Metro report, would dismiss my views as "cynicism", which is precisely what Tony Blair would have called it 25 years ago.

I have seen this style of politics before, and it's not Liberalism.

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