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Put all that together, and does any politician really think that today’s young people would be willing to fight for the UK, let alone be conscripted to do so?

Apparently unaware of how conscription, by design, overrides that willing part…..

34 thoughts on “Facepalm”

  1. He does have a point. Or rather the question is more whether UK is prepared to take the measures that would be required to make young people fight who don’t want to. After all you can drag people off the streets and plonk them in a training camp, but how exactly do you get them to do as they are told (or indeed not just abscond) once they are there? You have to have an ultimate sanction that is worse than just accepting a jail sentence (say). You would have to say to recruits ‘You are now under military law, if you refuse to obey orders you will be put up against a wall and shot’. And be prepared to do it, pour encourager les autres. If you aren’t prepared to do that then the whole edifice collapses as everyone would just say ‘OK, I’ll take a cell over being shot at’. And we are not a serious country any more, most of the people running things would run a mile from doing that. Can you imagine the UK civil service putting some suitably diverse youth up against wall and shooting them for breaching military discipline?

  2. The other thing is I bet all those immigrants with foreign passports and ‘leave to remain’ in the UK might suddenly decide they’d rather not remain at all and disappear.

  3. To expand on Jim’s comment, back in conscription days there seems to have been a general attitude that the government acted in the best interests of the people. People accepted that even if they disagreed with government policies in particular. Government might be wrong, but it wasn’t malign. Still true now?

  4. Let’s see the police try to round up the Muslims who have received their call-up papers. They are so frightened of the Ummah that they can’t even get them to behave themselves on a demonstration.

  5. I doubt a proper front line unit would want most of any modern cohort of conscripts and I envisage most of them needing the same sort of encouragement and persuasion to go into combat that the soviet soldiers received in the film Enemy at the Gate.

  6. “Let’s see the police try to round up the Muslims who have received their call-up papers.”

    You want Muhammed Aziz? He doesn’t live here, I’m Mohammed Aziz, different person entirely!

  7. bloke in spain,

    But I think that was also about things like external threats, how much of our economy was local. Government was important when the Wehrmacht were marching into France, and even into the cold war era. And that’s the same with the USA.

    People like Boris, Corbyn, Biden didn’t get to be the top guy because we rejected unserious people. We were all more involved in political parties as members. You wouldn’t have had a duffer like Grant Shapps in charge of the Ministry of War in the 1950s. People would have thought you’d lost your mind not having a military guy in the job. I’m not saying that government doesn’t matter but it doesn’t have the catastrophic risks of the past.

    And this sort of conscript army talk is nonsense. To fight who, exactly?

  8. The point being you’d have to get them, and their parents, to vote for any party who put it in their manifesto.

    Good luck with that.

  9. “The point being you’d have to get them, and their parents, to vote for any party who put it in their manifesto.”

    Why? The UK is currently pursuing a policy of Net Zero and this was enacted without a single party ever having stood on a manifesto declaring that. Its just been imposed on us from above. If it wanted to the State could do the same for conscription. It has the guns remember…….

  10. “To fight who, exactly?”

    The aforementioned Muhammed Aziz. And you won’t need to go overseas.

    Seriously the forces do not have the ability to accept large numbers of random youth and absorb them. The forces do however have an institutional memory of how to do it, if the WOs and NCOs are allowed to get on with it and wokeness cast aside.

    Anyhow, loyalty to the country and the idiots who run it is not required. Loyalty to your unit and your mates will do and the forces know how to do that if allowed. Civvies often don’t realize that the forces specialty is education of the unwilling or unqualified to do things they don’t necessarily think they can do.

    After all they taught me to shoot, march and mend helicopters. The first two not all that well.

  11. Jim,
    Nut Zero is point five of the Conservative manifesto commitments on page one, signed my BoJo himself.
    Doesn’t mean it’s right (it’s clearly not), but it was there.

  12. Jim,

    You say that “we are not a serious country any more, most of the people running things would run a mile from doing that.”

    Only a few years ago, the people running things shut down a large portion of the economy and placed the entire country under house arrest. I wouldn’t underestimate what they’re capable of imposing, if they think they have public support.

  13. A Whatsapp meme received from mate in UK:
    “As a white privileged male I feel my group is overrepresented in the armed forces so unfortunately I won’t be participating in any conscription.
    I’m happy to sit this one out in the name of diversity”

    Did make me ask myself a question. Would I fight for my country? Which bit of it? Its “diversity” & particularly its white, middle class, university educated administrative & professional class I’d definitely consider fighting against. Enthusiastically.

  14. Bloke in North Dorset

    The latest outrage is because apparently we can’t get enough recruits and conscription really isn’t the answer to that problem. They need to restart KAPE (Keep the Army in the Public Eye) and the RAF and RN equivalents. Reform those bands that went to shows and fetes and the likes of the Royal Signals White Helmets and other small units that were also seen around the country. They inspired young boys and girls to at least be curious. Woke adverts aimed at minorities aren’t working because there’s no history of serving so they’ve no ide what its all about.

    If we come under a serious threat such as, say, Ukraine falls and in 5 years Russia is turning its eyes to the Balts and other former Soviet countries then recruitment might be easier anyway and Gen Sir Patrick Sanders’ citizens army might be easier to form.

    The other problem with conscription, apart from the willingness of people to accept it, is that if you’re going to build a citizens army you need not only the infrastructure to train it, but also the stockpiles of equipment to equip it if it is to be deployed, otherwise you end up giving them broomsticks, and that is seriously expensive to build and maintain.

    My guess is that Gen Sanders was trying to get politicians’ attention to highlight a serious problem, at least in his eyes.

  15. Nobody in the armed forces that I’ve ever talked to thinks peacetime conscription a good idea (from their PoV, whether it would benefit those conscripted is a different question). During National Service (you’d have to be in your 80s now to have been subject to it) there was a real problem with what to do with all these short-term recruits, many of whom didn’t want to be there – often they were left to paint anything that didn’t move (and salute anything that did). Given the technology used in today’s armed forces, that problem would be an order of magnitude greater.

  16. Aren’t 90% of da yuuf obese? It must be true, the meedya keep telling us it is. How would they get through the fitness test?

  17. To be fair to the government (I know) they’re not doing or saying anything that would suggest conscription is on the menu.

    Or any other form of large scale mobilisation.

    Russia isn’t going to invade NATO, and NATO isn’t going to invade Russia, so it’ll probably be fine.

  18. Would they really want to fight for an establishment that has delivered them austerity, denying them the education that they deserve whilst leaving far too many of them in childhood poverty?

    The ‘austerity’ that means taxes are the highest for nearly half a century? That one? The education’ which tells poorer whites they’re racist and have racial guilt for crimes committed centuries before they were born? That education?

    Would they feel inclined to defend student tuition fees and the excessive tax that this unjustly imposes on so many of them?

    It’s true there’s a lot of substandard academic courses out there. You’ve got people that think There is no inflation caused by printing money or that governments don’t create money and they’re actually employed by Uk ‘higher education’ establishments. Unbelievable!

    Will those on zero-hours contracts and the prospect of the minimum wage for life really want to fight to defend that?

    I’d agree these guys get a raw deal – they’d do better putting some shoe Polish on and jumping on the boats heading here for free accommodation and healthcare, with any criticism of the fairness of that decried as ‘racism’ by quasi- academics in the Fens.

    And I think you can be sure that they will have noted how their chances of owning a property have been made remote whilst the state has virtually withdrawn from social housing.

    I’m sure the prospect of being forced to invest in bonds with less than 1% return and being denied gas to cook or heat with whole also being denied travel by advocates of ‘Net Zero’ will bring them to the ramparts

    There is also the small issue of climate change to consider. Almost no leading politician from a major political party is taking this issue seriously, and yet it is a reality that today’s young people know they will have to manage this situation, which is being made very much worse by current political indifference.

    I’m always amazed by the total political consensus in going ‘hell for leather’ for fossil fuels and ditching all the ‘Net Zero’ ideology – choosing from the zero candidates on my ballot paper offering that option causes me real anxiety.

    Then, accept that quite a lot of young people would like the place where they live to not even be a part of the UK and are being denied the chance to make that choice by Westminster.

    The SNP’s collapse removes my last chance of a decent pension at the taxpayer’s expense so have to appeal to the Next generation

    Note, too, that young people deeply resent being sold out on Europe.

    I know working class communities loved their scarce social housing going to Slovak gypsies in preference to them and their wages being suppressed by Ex Soviet grads – amazing how close he is to the pulse of the working man

    Put all that together, and does any politician really think that today’s young people would be willing to fight for the UK, let alone be conscripted to do so?
    If they do, they are living in a fantasy world.

    The first statement for many years from him that in isolation I can’t demur from

  19. @Chris Miller
    Actually I don’t think there’d be much of a problem turning the sort of people I know & have worked with into effective combat troops in a very short time. Most of them have been been pretty motivated & military tech is only a variant on the sort of stuff they’re acquainted with & have mastered. The main problem is they’re the people who keep the country functional in the first place. Put them in uniform & who’s going to keep the lights on & water coming out the taps? And there simply aren’t enough of them to do both. They’re the sort of people the UK can’t get enough of now.
    It’s obvious Ukraine seems to have managed it. From what I’ve known of Poles, I reckon they could as well. Maybe some of the other E. European countries could. But the UK? They don’t carry the sort of dead-weight burden of the utterly useless the UK does.

  20. “Aren’t 90% of da yuuf obese? It must be true, the meedya keep telling us it is. How would they get through the fitness test?”

    And the ones that aren’t obese have ‘mental ‘elf issues’, so would be considered disabled anyway……..

  21. I’d imagine we’re of like minds Jim. Some things that appear in the comments here….
    The post Tim made about the job for financial journalist. My immediate thoughts were, it’s a service. If it ain’t paying that well it’s obviously not much in demand. Then thinking further. If you’re reckoning you’re so good at financial analysis put your money where your mouth is. There’s a market out there. Use your knowledge to trade on it. Cut out the middle man.
    And Steve’s comment about 50K pa being insufficient to live in London. Well I suppose if you’re insisting on a comfortable chair in a nice warm office or WFH maybe it is. There’s at least a couple of skills I’ve got would make me 100/hour any day of the week. Didn’t even take that much to acquire. But they don’t involve a desk & the flexible hours are working all that you can.
    I certainly wouldn’t consider putting my life on the line so some cunt can do three day weeks avoiding Blue Mondays & Friday exhaustion stress.

  22. If it were a matter of fighting Muhammed Aziz et al, I suspect you would find a considerable number of young Sikh and Hindu men eager to enlist in HM Forces.

  23. I think @BIND, @ChrisMiller and @Jim have nailed it. Even the bit where Jim is technically wrong – Net Zero was on the manifestos – his essential point was right, that if the Powers That Be decide that something “must” be done, like Net Zero, they won’t be too fussed what the electorate thinks. Once all the major parties agree to it, it’s a fait accompli. Re the comments on who’s gonna get conscripted – remember the Irish/Northern Irish experience in WW1/WW2? In the unlikely event we do see conscription here, I’d be astonished if NI didn’t get an exemption again. But a lot of reasons why NI got exempted would apply to ethnic minority groups too. Suppose UK troops (even if not conscripts) were at the same time fighting in their ancestral homelands, or in a war that minority communities strongly disagreed with – then what? I don’t think you could have a conscription system that blanket-exempted e.g. Muslims, I don’t see how it would be politically viable (even making it legally viable would be a hard slog), but to my mind that just makes conscription even more unlikely. There are few situations in which it would actually be useful, several situations in which it would be counterproductive (aside from the risk of blowback from arming members of the population opposed to your foreign policy, the draft is almost certain to undermine the public will to keep fighting if carrying on involves risk to family members, which is less than optimal given how loss of will lies behind so many Western strategic defeats) and the practical and political costs would be very heavy.

    In the end, the point isn’t that you need to get unenthusiastic people to vote for conscription in true turkeys-for-Xmas style. It’s that even if you go through with it, what are you going to do with a bunch people who are utterly unmotivated to do anything militarily useful, largely ill-equipped to do anything anyway, and are likely to be seriously unarsed to up their skill level in training. Even if it was possible to train them to do something useful in that time, which is a problem in its own right if they aren’t there for long. Was talking to a Finnish chap about this – he had a practical job and his hobby had been souping up old cars, so when he was conscripted into APCs he had a whale of a time and finished top of the class. Big boy’s toys for him to strip, repair, drive round in. But most of his fellow conscripts took the whole thing as a joke. Even if they could be bothered, very few of them were mechanically minded – rather backing up @bis’s point, there are useful people out there, you just gotta find them, but conscripting randos isn’t gonna cut it.

    He did point out that everyone joking around was back during Russia’s low-intensity stage of conflict in Ukraine (the so-called Donbas “civil war” that involved Russian soldiers, Russian intelligence officers, Russian artillery and heavy armour… if anyone out there is still buying that “civil war” crap, it’s interesting that Russian official obituaries for killed servicemen are now open about their pre-2022 service in Donbas, so like the “little green men” in Crimea the pretence is getting dropped) but prior to the full-scale invasion. Finnish guy was reasonably hopeful that the youngsters might buck their ideas up and take things more seriously these days. The senior Russian politicians keen to point out that Finland was former Russian territory that “tragically” broke away in the chaos of 1917 and should be brought back into the fold, should at least be raising faint alarm bells.

    Full-scale invasion may not be on the menu, but for years Russian agents in Eastern Europe have been blowing up arms depots (Bulgaria, Czech Republic), performing cross-border incursions (including kidnapping border guards in the Baltic), assassinating dissidents (even in the UK and Germany), attempting coups (Montenegro), aggressively propagandising (particularly, but not limited to, creating a Kremlin-led media ecosystem for Russian-speaking minorities), and handing out thousands of citizenships (which was both the prelude and the justification for the Russian land-grab in Georgia, even before Ukraine). I really don’t think you can write off the potential for Russia pursuing the “Donbassification” of at least one ex-Soviet NATO/EU state within the next decade. All it would take is a “civil rights movement” that mysteriously becomes violent.

    Potential for mischief gets worse if they’re able to use the forces of a proxy rump-Ukrainian state for implausible deniability. Several Russian political commentators are very open that they see the population of Ukraine – “Russians who mistakenly believe they are Ukrainian” – as a source of manpower in future conflict. One of the bizarrest claims by Kremlin and Belarusian officials, and one of the few narratives they’ve consistently pushed since the start of the war, is Poland was about to invade and annex western Ukraine, and Russia’s invasion was in fact a pre-emptive attempt to protect Ukraine from NATO-backed Poland. They’ve also gone big on the brutal inter-ethnic violence between Poles and Ukrainians in WW1 and WW2. Clearly this is partly an attempt to disrupt the very strong Poland-Ukraine relations that have been developing. But it is also an attempt to set an internal narrative for a Russified, anti-NATO rump-Ukraine in which Putin’s invasion can be counted as a “liberation” from NATO forces.

    Two candidates for the first serious hot war in non-Balkan Europe after Ukraine’s defeat would be an attempt to “protect the Russian minority in Moldova from the extremist pro-NATO, Romanian-nationalist regime in Chisinau”, or Balkan-style ethnic violence involving a rump Ukrainian state and either its numerous minorities in Poland/Hungary/Slovakia or their minorities in western Ukraine. Quite possibly simultaneous with Yugoslavia Round 2 kicking off in Bosnia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and/or Montenegro. Maybe it’s all stuff the Brits could stay out of, or whatever they did take part in would be multinational and better-suited to a professional rather than conscript army anyway. But the security outlook in Europe doesn’t have the rosy outlook of 2000 anymore. In parts it more closely resembles 1900, which ties in with the currently fashionable notion that we’re in a “Pre-War” rather than “Post-War” period, and from which the conscription debate seems to have arisen. I’m not as pessimistic as that, but I have to say I’m not getting much reassurance from that trope of “the Russians won’t be any trouble – after all, the USA’s got nukes!” You can have trouble, even serious dollops of trouble, without things breaking down into nuclear armageddon. Which is nice an’ all, but this means at some point you (or at least your allies, if they’re closer to the firing line) may need to rely on young men being prepared to fight.

  24. In around 2017 I was working alongside a young bloke who wanted to join the Army, I don’t know why. He was bright enough, fit enough, hardworking enough and as far as I know there were no impediments to that ambition: the army should have wanted him. I think the firm didn’t manage to keep him and that he did succeed eventually.

    But the actual difficulty he had to overcome in order to join up was months of delays in Capita’s recruitment process.
    If by the time a recruit is accepted they’ve had time to become established elsewhere in another career or with a serious girlfriend/partner the delay may well have the effect of keeping the recruit out.
    Besides which, it sends the message that they’re not wanted.

    And yet Capita haven’t lost the contract. I don’t foresee conscription going smoothly.

  25. Modern western governments, especially the squishy ones like in the UK very definitely do not want conscription to begin with.

    Even if most of the lads would be effectively useless except for filling ranks and making pretty marches, ( as they were in the Olden Days), most of them would get through Basic ( or equivalent) and have at least an idea of how to actually fight with basic weaponry.

    Which is what the people slated for the seats of power ( and the connections to avoid such dreary stuff..) very much do not like to see.
    People might get Ideas and … actively oppose Things.

    Current politicians/and policy makers want the general populace to be as unable to fight as possible. And they have been pulling all the stops to make it so for decades now…

  26. “Nut Zero is point five of the Conservative manifesto commitments on page one, signed my BoJo himself.”

    But it wasn’t even mentioned in passing in the Maybots 2017 manifesto, and she was the one who enacted it into law. In fact (having just skimmed through the dreary thing) she actually promised a UK shale industry! So Net Zero was introduced with not one jot of popular consent, and once it was in place all the usual suspects (including BoJo) went in lockstep behind it in 2019. The same could be said about the Climate Change Act. Nothing about it in the 2005 Labour Manifesto, everyone in favour at the 2010 election. Hence my point – when the State wants to do something, it does it, with a big f*ck you to any concepts of democracy.

  27. How on earth are we going to conscript people to go to war to exterminate Hamas and the Houtis when we have at least 10 million people in this country *actively* *supporting* them?

  28. A bit late to the party but I think if any government tried to conscript any of the younger generations – say anyone born after the mid-eighties – the result would just be a resounding raspberry.

    The politicians know this, so they won’t try it.

    Assorted superannuated Colonel Blimps think they’re still dealing with the youth of the thirties and forties; they’re wrong.

  29. @jgh – January 26, 2024 at 6:16 pm

    Aren’t 90% of da yuuf obese? It must be true, the meedya keep telling us it is. How would they get through the fitness test?

    I assume that they’d get through by means of the method used presently for “equality and diversity” recruitment into the police, fire service, etc… Simply continue to adjust the required standard down until sufficient people qualify.

  30. Also late to comment.

    I too would like to think that the youngsters and everyone would tell the government where to go…
    But I also thought that people would do that when the government said we all needed to stay at home because of the flu…
    So I have little hope.

    As for the youth and everyone fighting spirit, I remember reading somewhere that Imperial Japan had similar concerns about their young men before the Second International Unpleasantness. Didn’t take long before they were willing to fly into ships head first for varying degrees of effectiveness…

    Overall, if the government puts it’s resources into convincing people that it’s in their own best interests to line up and die, it will take a lot of strength of character to resist.

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