Service Nation, the latest report from Demos, puts them firmly back in the big government box that they have been trying to crawl out of. Service Nation proposes ‘civic service’, which in case you are wondering ‘differs from volunteering, which is more commonly perceived as an add-on to citizenship: something that is morally desirable but not an integral or implied expectation in return for the benefits that citizenship confers.’ In other words, while volunteering is voluntary, 'civic service' is forced.
But politicians should take note. The report concludes that the youth of the country are not keen on being forced to act. The solution for Demos is simple: 'This response also reveals the importance of branding a scheme so that it appeals to the young people at whom it is aimed – which should be done in conjunction with them.' I don’t fancy their chances, slavery is a hard sell.
The policy suggestions in this paper are illiberal. School children would have to volunteer as part of the National Curriculum, while university graduates would be forced to do at least 100 hours of community service over the course of their degree. This will of course hurt poorer students who already work to fund their studies.
The term ‘slave’ might however be a more appropriate name for the rest of us. The report includes the ludicrous idea that public sector employees should be entitled to a week of service leave each year and the imposition of various entitlements open to those chosen few that are not forced, but paid to serve the nation. Demos are suggesting the creation of a new class of crypto-civil servants, feeding off the corpse of the already overburdened, shrinking and fleeing private sector.