Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2908

Letters—Conscription plans part of war ideology

Readers write on Tory national service plans, the return of lads mags, a spate of inmate deaths in Brigend and more
Issue 2908
Nato and West British Royal Marines and US Army Green Berets training in Germany 

Nato British Royal Marines and US Army Green Berets training in Germany (Picture: Flickr/Nato)

Rishi Sunak’s proposal for all 18-year-olds to undertake national service has sinister implications.

It has been dismissed as an empty offer to bigoted Tory voters at the expense of their party’s tiny youth vote.

But the imagery of “conscription” is playing a part in building an acceptance of a militarised society and preparations for war.

This includes the racist drive towards closed borders, the political offensive against the left and the constant nationalist drip of false threats of invasion by Russia or China.

All together it evokes a preparation for Britain’s engagement in war in the not too distant future.

Labour’s response was to emphasise the party’s priority to protect the country’s borders and security. It’s the same politics, of nationalism, racism, authoritarianism and warmongering.

Tony Staunton


  • Hearing Rishi Sunak’s plans for mandatory national service I couldn’t help but reflect on my own experience.

In 1967, I was disaffected and I decided I’d get away and see the world.

I was in the air force, but I mostly saw the inside of aircraft hangers, where there was always something to clean.

The idea that young people and children need to be disciplined is a constant refrain from the Tories.

I would argue against young people being recruited anyway but at least now they’re not forced to join.

I’m very conscious of the military being used as an alternative to the problems that exist. 

We need to encourage children and young people, not pose the armed forces as an alternative to genuine opportunities.

Dave Clinch


Don’t trust Tories with playtime

Children deserve good quality playtime and lots of it. That’s the idea behind the United Nations International Day of Play on 11 June.

Anyone who is around children can see how important play is for their wellbeing. In fact, it’s so crucial that it’s included in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Yet there seems to be diminishing play opportunities for kids these days. Recently I saw some stats that showed school children have lost an hour’s play from the school day in the last 20 years.

On top of this, council budgets have been absolutely hammered in the last 15 years, and sustaining playworkers, services and spaces is at the top of no-one’s priority list.

And kids are snowed under with increasing hours spent doing homework, with a huge focus on academic excellence.

Of course, like everything else under capitalism, this has a class element to it. Working class kids suffer the most. 

Cramped housing, no cash for activities and living in deprived areas without services mean that they just don’t get the same chances to play.

The Tories’ solution seems to be implementing a “plan for play” that requires schools to have a play programme that would be subject to Ofsted inspection.

The solution lies in moving away from grading, external inspectors and league tables.

Janet Dyer

East London

Prison deaths disgrace

HMP Parc, in Bridgend, is a deathtrap. Some ten inmates have died in just over three months at the prison in South Wales.

It’s run by private security outsourcer G4S, a grubby company with a long history of violence and running institutions with inhumane conditions.

Grieving families held a protest outside the prison on Monday of last week and called for G4S to be thrown out.

It’s paid some £400 million to run Parc and there are allegations of corruption, widespread violence, a lack of mental health support and a range of other issues.

G4S shouldn’t be responsible for running a village fete, let alone an institution holding some 1,300 people.

In 2019, it was stripped of its contract to run HMP Birmingham after the chief inspector of prisons said the jail was the worst he had come across.

The campaigning families are right—G4S out now.

Susie Doorman

By email

Are young men rejecting lad mag culture?

My heart sank on seeing the news that the sexist Loaded magazine was coming back. It was part of the soft porn “lads mag” scene that dominated newsagent counters in the early 2000s.

Thankfully, they all stopped being printed as circulation figures dropped and campaigns against them grew.

Loaded’s editor, Danni Levy, claims that the relaunch was a chance for men to “ogle beautiful women”.

Interestingly, though, the relaunch is being aimed squarely at the same audience who read it in its original incarnation.

Levy describes these as men “now living happily at home with their wife and kids but still reminisce about their nights spent clubbing”.

And women in their 40s have all been earmarked to feature in future issues.

The magazine’s team clearly don’t think it will appeal to a new audience of young men in their teens or 20s.

Maybe we can take from that an encouraging message that the younger generation has rejected the sexist raunch culture that was everywhere 20 years ago.

Josie Wilcox


You can’t back Starmer

Let’s not forget that Labour leader Keir Starmer ordered his MPs not to stand on the picket lines in 2022.

And now he wants the worker’s vote!

Brian Russell

On Facebook 

A sad loss for  socialists

Just seen the news about John Witzenfeld, (Socialist Worker, 2905). Such a lovely man and a socialist to his toenails. 

On hearing of the news, I shed a tear for an old and redoubtable comrade.

Bill Geddes

On email

Who cares where Kate is

The Daily Mail newspaper seems absolutely obsessed with when we’ll next get a glimpse of Kate Middleton. 

It seems to be running an article speculating about her every other day.

The latest claim is maybe she’ll make an appearance at this weekend’s Trooping the Colour military showcase.

Who cares?

Everytime I see her name I can’t help but think of all the people waiting for cancer treatment, while I bet she was rushed straight of the front of the queue.

Martin  Hyland


Workers get stuck in

It’s been so invigorating to read the coverage of the John Witzenfeld that have erupted in the last month.

But doesn’t Socialist Worker give students too much credit?

I support the students but it must be relatively easy to do a university course and be part of an encampment.

And they’re all concentrated around a campus, making it easier to organise.

It would be seriously impressive if workers did the same thing—you can’t deliver mail or drive a bus from inside a tent. Then we might see some real traction.

Melissa White


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