Compulsory volunteering

Make up your mind, Gordon.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to ensure every young person has done 50 hours of voluntary work by the time they are 19-years-old.

Mr Brown said a promise to bring in compulsory community service would be a part of his next election manifesto.

Surely this community service can’t be voluntary and compulsory at the same time?

Perhaps in the strange alternate universe that is inhabited by Brown and his band of intrepid incompetents it can…

But look!

There’s this from 2007!

David Cameron is proposing a voluntary “citizen service” programme for 16-year-olds, which he sees as a 21st Century version of National Service.

He said he had initially favoured a compulsory scheme, but had been persuaded against that and to make it “universal” instead by the voluntary sector.

Well, at least there’s no contradiction there, even though I still think the idea sucks.

But look again! (From the same story):

Labour is in favour of more recognition of, and a greater role for, the voluntary sector and Gordon Brown has proposed a day to celebrate the British national identity.

Downing Street also said Mr Brown had launched a scheme to encourage teenagers to volunteer, called V, in May 2006.

This appears to be V – now called ‘vinspired’.

Ah…a name change…always a sign that the original idea wasn’t working very well and yet another way of flushing money down the crapper.

This voluntary/compulsory/voluntary yet compulsory/compulsory yet voluntary community idea seems to have been kicked around by both Labour and the Tories for 3 years and now actually exists – albeit in a voluntary form that I – and I suspect countless other people –  had no idea existed.

However it’s now being freshly pimped by Gordon as compulsory volunteering,

There could be a reason for its obscurity and repeated touting – it’s a shitty idea…

But why not use the prison population for this work?

After all, we might as well get something in return for all the money we spend on each inmate – currently something like £40 000 per annum.

Filling in the potholes caused by the winter weather might be a good place to start…


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