Forced Labour and the European Convention on Human Rights
Forced labour (such as slavery) is usually regarded as a breach of basic human rights. And back in the 19th century, we Brits legislated to abolish slavery (decades ahead of the US). Now we're going the other way.
Here's Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights:-
"Article 4 – Prohibition of slavery and forced labour
1 No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
2 No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
3 For the purpose of this article the term “forced or compulsory labour” shall not include:
(a) any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention;
(b) any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service;
(c) any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;
(d) any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations."
So, what grounds from part 3 of Article 4 are Gordon Brown and the aptly-named Labour government relying on for their attempt at forced labour? (No, I don't believe it's voluntary if it's compulsory.)
It can't be (a), because that would be treating all young people automatically like criminals (though that's rather in keeping with this government's attitude to all of us generally). The proposed community service doesn't form part of a course of detention. (a) simply doesn't apply.
It can't be (b), because we don't have such military service. There's no military service for this community service to be an alternative to. Anyway, such community service at an alternative to military service would be for conscientious objectors, not simply everyone. (b) clearly doesn't apply.
It can't be (c), because there is no such emergency or calamity, whatever the Daily Mail might say. The proposal is to have community service as a normal part of life, not something for exceptional circumstances. (c) obviously doesn't apply.
That leaves (d). That means Gordon Brown and this Forced Labour government must regard such forced labour as "work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations." Brown and the Forced Labour Party might well want it to be seen that way in the future, but that doesn't mean that such forced labour actually does form "part of normal civic obligations." Although, having said that, in a fascist state, forced labour may well form "part of normal civic obligations."
For such forced labour to be "part of normal civic obligations", it would have to be normal for the state to treat its citizens as state property. That's essentially fascism. In a free country (isn't that what we're supposed to be?), the state does not treat its citizens as state property. In a free country, rather than a fascist one, the state does not generally force its own citizens to work on the state's behalf. (And no, saying it's on the community's behalf, instead of the state's, doesn't change the essential nature of it. It's still entirely in keeping with its essentially fascist nature. Especially as the state takes more and more control of society and communities.)
The obviously contradictory idea of compulsory, voluntary community service is also very much in keeping with the party slogan, "FREEDOM IS SLAVERY", in Orwell's 1984. That's nicely in keeping with this government's Orwellian tendencies more generally.
Perhaps the Labour Party, moving on from its "New" Labour phase, should now be called the Forced Labour Party? Or the Fascist Labour Party? They could adopt a fascio as their new party emblem.