Wes Streeting's Expression Over The Tories' National Service Policy Says It All

Wes Streeting looked bewildered while Damian Hinds was defending the national service policy
Wes Streeting looked bewildered while Damian Hinds was defending the national service policy BBC Question Time

The government’s flagship policy of rolling out national service for 18-year-olds was completely torn apart by Labour’sWes Streeting on Thursday.

He made his feelings known after the home secretary James Cleverly’s suggestion that one of these roles for young people could be an “on-call fire fighter” was mentioned on BBC Question Time.

While education minister Damian Hinds scrambled to explain what his colleague had meant by that, Streeting looked on, completely mystified.

And when Hinds tried to say there were already many ways for volunteers to work with core services without actually being trained, Streeting just glanced at the minister sideways repeatedly.

But, the Labour frontbencher did not just let his expression do the talking.

The shadow health secretary said Labour would “welcome” the pledge if it was about providing more opportunities to the young.

However, he claimed the Tories have spent the “last 14 years closing youth services and opportunities” and so asked: “Why have you just woken up to this now?”

He continued: “What this was really about was the prime minister hoping to talk about anything other than the damage they have done to economy, the state of the NHS, the fact that we have let prisoners out of prisons early because they’re full and have told police not to arrest dangerous criminals because they’re full.

“It is anything to avoid talking about the core issues facing our country and the responsibilities your party bears for all of it.”

He added that the Conservatives and PM Rishi Sunak “are in no position whatsoever to lecture anyone about service to the country”, especially when the young generation gave up so much during the height of the pandemic.

“We owe this generation,” he added.

“We owe to them that when they think about their future, it puts the wind in their sails, they can aim high, dream big and not be lectured by a prime minister with an abysmal record of failure.”

Streeting was not the only person to lash out at the policy on BBC Question Time.

One member of the audience even asked what “planet” Sunak was on in with this scheme.

The man in the crowd claimed that the PM “is so distant and removed from what ordinary people experience” that he was using the national service idea as a “last-ditch attempt” to gather some support ahead of the election.