ATTENTION! What follows is mandatory reading. Wake up, get out of your bubble and take heed. Our democratic values are under threat, and it’s your duty to protect them! Yes, you. Don’t think you’re going to get out of it – it’s mandatory. A mandatory opportunity to protect Britain from certain doom. If you were truly British, you wouldn’t even need to be asked!

What’s that you say? You identify as Scottish, not British? Well, that makes no difference to Rishi Sunak, who is ramping up his General Election strategy, Project Petrify, by coming for your children and grandchildren. He needs as many as he can get – even the Scottish ones with extremist parents will do.

These youths are being given the exciting chance to join the British Army for a year, rather than sitting glued to their phones like brain-dead morons for the rest of their lives. A golden opportunity to better themselves that plenty of young people would kill for. Some of them may ultimately kill for it, after being seduced into a life-long career in the military.

READ MORE: Here's what people of Glasgow had to say about Tory plans for national service

The ones too feeble for service will be given opportunities too – they will be forced to do some other activity for which they will not be paid. Forget British jobs for British workers – this is British slog for British shirkers, which will allow them (indeed, compel them) to strengthen their skills and build a stronger national culture.

A national culture of naked exploitation from the day of a young person’s 18th birthday will better prepare the next generation of workers for the grim realities of employment that doesn’t even cover the essentials of survival. A zero-hours contract is certainly an improvement on a zero-pay one for 12 weekends of forced “volunteering”, isn’t it! The paltry £8.60 National Minimum Wage for workers aged 18-20 will feel like a king’s ransom after that.

But 18-year-olds don’t need money anyway. It’s not like they can afford to move out, even if they are available to work every weekend of the month, every hour of every day, including when they are asleep. No Labour or Tory politician really wants to build loads more houses and bring down the property prices with which older generations are unhealthily obsessed. But the parents surely need a break from looking at the doleful faces of teenagers who were robbed by the pandemic of in-person social lives, childhood rites of passage, and uninterrupted learning. So, national service is the answer! But what was the question again?

I can’t help but agree with our letter-writer Gus McSkimming, who has done the sums and concluded this new Tory “policy” is a nonsense fantasy. Of course the same could be said for any pledge or promise the Conservatives come up with in the next few weeks, since they are hardly likely to have the chance to implement them, but this one feels particularly like an exercise in trolling.

The National:

Keir Starmer may have scornfully dismissed the idea of a “teenage Dad’s Army”, but he and Rachel Reeves are focusing on the finances, pointing out that the Tories’ proposal is to cancel “levelling-up funding” and divert funds that might otherwise go to the NHS. Perhaps they understand that many English voters don’t actually think forcing young people to give up their time for free is such a bad idea.

But if Labour insist on buying into the nebulous concept of “levelling up”, couldn’t it also be argued that giving young people opportunities to develop skills and confidence (even if it’s on pain of some unspecified punishment) counts towards the levelling-up goals of “creating jobs and supporting communities”?

Sunak has two main aims here: increase fear about the UK’s defence capabilities, and pander to a set of voters who might be leaning away from the Conservatives and towards Reform UK, who regard the youth of today as soft, workshy and incapable. Starmer’s mocking characterisation of the national service plan doesn’t really run counter to either message.

If the need to bolster the UK’s defence is so great that recruiting 18-year-olds is an appealing option, just how desperate must we be? How great is the threat if we need to bring on board teenage computer geeks for cyber-security, or weekend shop assistants to handle logistics? And if the scenes this conjures are like something from a sitcom, doesn’t that simply demonstrate that the youth of today are weak snowflakes who need to learn?

Of course, voters who are concerned about the employability of their children and grandchildren might want to encourage them to do some volunteering off their own bats – or indeed to provide incentives or “investments” of their own to get them out of their “bubbles” or off the couch. It is, as Laura Kuenssberg pointed out to Home Secretary James Cleverly, surely not very Conservative to compel people to do something they don’t want to do, while dressing it up as “volunteering”.

Sometimes people need to be pushed out of their comfort zones, he declared. “We force people to do things all the time”. Thank goodness his party can’t force anyone to actually vote for them, which is why they must resort to these feeble scare-mongering exercises dressed up as policy announcements.