With our new-look March issue hitting news-stands on Thursday, it's been a busy weekend for the authors of our next cover story, James Crabtree and Frank Field MP.by Tom Chatfield / February 23, 2009 / Leave a comment
With our new-look March issue hitting news-stands on Thursday, it’s been a busy weekend for the authors of our next cover story, James Crabtree and Frank Field MP. In their essay, Crabtree and Field look at the results of a YouGov/Prospect poll of over 2,000 adults, released today, which reveals that 64 per cent of British adults (and a majority of young people themselves) now support a compulsory national citizenship programme in which all 16 to 25 year olds would be required to spend one year doing full-time, modestly paid community service. The poll also shows astonishingly widespread concerns about civil unrest and the long-term impact of the recession.
James spoke this morning on the Today programme, talking to NUS President Wesley Streeting about whether such a scheme could be a positive legacy of the recession; he also wrote a comment piece for the Independent this morning making the case for civic service; he and Frank Field also published a joint essay in the latest Sunday Times, which gives a foretaste of what you can expect from their full essay in Prospect:
Critics will say such a programme is illiberal, expensive and ineffectual; a tax on the young, and a way of funding state services on the cheap while sapping the strength from the existing voluntary sector. But this need not be true. Civic service would give focus to today’s fragmented efforts. All parents, at least, would have an incentive to help out: this would not be something that just happened to other people’s children.
With an annual intake of up to 500,000 teenagers, a compulsory programme would cost many billions. Some of this money could come out of education budgets, perhaps by postponing the plan to raise the school leaving age. The rest could be justified as part of the push to boost the economy out of recession. Franklin Roosevelt did something similar with his Civilian Conservation Corps – Roosevelt’s “tree army” – just weeks after taking office in 1933.
The full Prospect cover story will be free to read on our website from Thursday morning; you can also read a more detailed analysis of the poll on our website now, with plenty more additional analysis and responses in the pipeline.