Can we get some National Service?

Almost one week on from Rishi Sunak embracing the national spirit and thinking ‘well, if I don’t do it in the pissing rain then it’s never getting done’ and it’s time for us to move on from thinking about what this all means for the Tories to thinking about what all this means for us.

Because, after the psychodramas of the last few years, it’s important for us to remember that democracy is all about us. And, even if you don’t like anything on offer, it’s not just about what we get on July 5th, but what lies in wait for friends and relatives years down the line. So stop thinking about what’s going to happen to poor Rishi or poor Keir and start thinking about yourself.

And in our case, that also means the ‘us’ of hospitality. Many have already laid out their stalls. Kate Nicholls, CEO, UKHospitality, said: “We need to see evidence of measures that can unlock the potential of our sector to do even more. These include promises of action to lower the tax burden on our industry, initiatives that give us greater access to workers, and other measures that will support us in creating more jobs and further upskilling the workforce.”

Rain Newton-Smith, CEO, CBI, said: “We urge political leaders to focus on giving business what it needs to fire on all cylinders and deliver sustainable growth for the benefit of our society.”

And, of course, the eternal beating drum of VAT cuts and business rate reform.

At the time of writing, clarity was not yet forthcoming, although the Conservative Party had revealed that its policies were being delivered by one angry Tory voter in, possibly, Tunbridge Wells, with a passion for punishing the youth, who are wet and lily livered. 

Rather like the workshy immigrant stealing all our jobs, the youth cannot be constantly stabbing each other as well as being feeble and in need of a war (and let there be no doubt that ‘it’s time for National Service’ really means ‘what we need here is a good war’) but that Tory voter has tapped into an appetite to punish the young for being young which will go down very well with a certain set of the electorate. An electorate who largely didn’t do National Service, but never mind.

In launching this generational war, Sunak said that ‘citizenship brings with it obligations as well as rights’, which is of course wild drivel, considering we don’t even have mandatory voting and unless he’s thinking of bringing back conscription (not until week four of the campaign) then that’s enough from you, sonny. And don’t make us bring up certain tax scenarios in the Sunak household.

But is this an idea the hospitality sector can bend to its will? After all, it’s nice to have dreams, but there’s no money to pay for anything, so all those dreams will have to take the form of laws which don’t cost anything and that old fallback for our sector: being creative.

Sunak elaborated on his theme of National Service really being a good idea because he was going to make people hire those who had done it (again, not your purview my good man), but is there an opportunity here for National Work Experience instead? 

Our sector knows that, once people try working in hospitality, they generally like it and might even fancy staying on for a career in it. It’s getting over that first step and getting them through the door. And, as any employer will repeat until their brains explode, we really want to see some work experience on that CV.

So rather than forcing 18-year-olds to find an acquaintance who can get them out of spending a year in the mud or 25 days working in a charity shop, wouldn’t mandatory work experience be a better option? A sort of ‘apprenticeship lite’? Two weeks in every 16 year-old’s life where they get minimum wage and a flavour of a career? It may not be enough of a punishment for our friend in Tunbridge Wells, but it’s getting them off that TikTok/making them earn an honest bob/giving them a taste of real work. A taste that could lead to, well, a feast. 



Image: cakes which can trigger certain areas of the populace

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