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Dud’s army: How on earth will Gen Z cope with conscription?

Young people in this country have had it too easy for too long, writes Ryan Coogan. If the pandemic, housing crisis and rotating cast of prime ministers didn’t toughen them up, perhaps a stint in the army will...

Thursday 25 January 2024 15:38 GMT
I wish them luck as they are marched off to fight for a country that has done so much for them
I wish them luck as they are marched off to fight for a country that has done so much for them (Getty)

These kids today, with their iPhones and their TikTok dances and their impenetrable slang. What does “based” even mean? Based on what?

Generation Z have it so easy. They don’t know what it was like for the rest of us, growing up in the real world, before everything got all “woke” and PC. You can’t say anything these days. You know what would really sort them all out? Being sent to war!

Yes, that might seem like a wild overreaction to a non-existent problem. And no, I’ve never personally been to war, nor have most people who agree with conscription as a concept. But trust me on this: mandatory service may be closer than you think.

On 25 January, the head of the army warned that the British public will be called up to fight in the event that the UK goes to war with Russia, because the military as it stands is too small. In response, Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood told Sky News that we should listen to the message carefully, as there is a “1939 feel to the world”, and the country is not ready for “what is coming over the horizon”.

As far as I’m concerned, the threat of imminent national conscription is great news – Gen Z have had it too easy for too long. Most of them didn’t even have to go to school for two years (sure, it was because of a deadly worldwide pandemic that permanently stunted their educational development and social skills, but still. When I was a kid, there were days I would have happily taken Covid over waiting for a bus on a cold day).

And yes, OK, so they’ll never be able to “afford a house”, whatever that even means. Do you know how stressful it is to maintain a home? Or three? These kids will never suffer the horror of having to unclog their own toilets. They can just ask their landlords – the most reliable and trustworthy people in the world.

Related: David Cameron on why he set up the National Citizen Service

These kids, they don’t even know they’re born. When I was growing up, you’d have one prime minister every five, maybe 10 years. You’d elect them, and then barring some catastrophe, they’d just be in charge of country for a bit. How boring is that?

Nowadays, the prime minister could be anybody, for any amount of time. Might as well be a lettuce. They’ll resign suddenly, and without warning, after as little as four months. And even if they do serve their full term (unlikely), they’re so plagued with calls to step down and dastardly party plots that every day is an adventure. “Will today finally be the day?” you ask yourself. Who knows? Not the government, that’s for sure!

And let’s look at what else is going on in the world: Ofcom has said that Royal Mail may deliver as few as three days a week. Great! That’s fewer bills! HS2 has been scrapped. Fantastic! Who wants to go to Manchester anyway? Measles cases are on the rise, and you know what that means: more days off school!

Young people today are soft, and the only cure is to force them from their families and train them to kill our enemies. I’m sorry, I wish there was a simpler solution. But there isn’t.

And before you say it: no, this isn’t just a massive overreaction to the sort of generational resentment everybody over the age of 30 feels. And no, I don’t see the irony of forcing a group of people largely demonised as “soft” and “snowflakes” to be the last line of defence for the UK.

Instead, I shall simply wish them luck as they are marched off to fight for a country that has done so much for them. Meanwhile I’ll be sitting safe at home, as an old fogey in my mid-thirties, an armchair millennial.

Hang on a second. Let me just check what the cut-off age is for conscription...

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