JUST when you thought the Tories couldn't get any more insane, after drying out his suit, Rishi Sunak unveiled his party's flagship policy for the General Election: the reintroduction of national service for 18-year-olds.

In the increasingly unlikely event that the Tories manage to escape well deserved electoral oblivion and crawl back into power on July 5, they plan to force 18-year-olds to spend a year in the armed forces or complete a community programme over a 12-month period.

The Conservatives have insisted that no one will go to jail for refusing to participate – but have hinted that other sanctions could be applied. Tory minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said that parents could face fines if their children, who at 18 are legally adults, refuse to cooperate.

It did not take long for the ill-thought-out nature of the Tories’ attention-grabbing wheeze to become apparent. As with their appalling Rwanda policy, this national service plan is not about implementing a serious solution to an issue, it's about throwing some red meat to the Conservative base and the right-wing media.

The holes in the plan soon became obvious. What about 18-year-olds with disabilities or caring obligations? Would they receive an exemption? The Tories haven't said.

Neither have they explained what happens to teenagers who are in full-time education or employment: would they get an exemption or a deferment? Then there's the question of British citizens who live abroad.

There is no clarity on any of the details of this policy, which gives every indication of belonging to the “making it all up as they go along” school of politics. That's very much on brand for this woeful Conservative government.

On Sunday night, Sunak defended the plan by saying that the example of national service in other countries "show[ed] just how fulfilling it is for young people".

Yet within 48 hours of the policy being launched, it was already coming apart at the seams, being rubbished by senior defence personnel and a former Conservative defence secretary.

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

Admiral Alan West, a former chief of the naval staff, decried the plan as "bonkers" and said that far from helping the military, it would only deplete the defence budget.

General Richard Dannatt, a former chief of the general staff – the most senior officer in the British army – dismissed the Conservative plan as "electoral opportunism”.

He said: "The costs of this would be considerable in terms of trainers and infrastructure. This task cannot just be imposed on the armed forces as an extra thing to do."

Former Tory defence secretary Michael Portillo also spoke unfavourably about his party's latest Daily Mailesque gambit. Speaking to the hard-right froth shop GB News he said: “The way in which this policy has been produced worries me very much indeed. That is to say, I very much doubt whether it’s been thought through, and I doubt whether the armed services and all the charities that need to be involved have been consulted and are on board.”

The National: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during his visit to Amersham and Chiltern RFC (Aaron Chown/PA)

The real danger here is not this idiotic and poorly thought out Tory plan. The plan has very little prospect of ever being implemented given the unlikelihood of Sunak (above) winning this election.

The real danger is that the Tories have taken an idea which was previously way out there on the far-right insane margins of British politics and brought it very firmly back into the political mainstream.

It's a safe bet that in a couple of years, if not sooner, the flag-waving Labour party of Keir Starmer will adopt some form of national service as Labour policy in an attempt to address the plummeting numbers of British service personnel.

Where the Tories go, Starmer is sure to follow.

TV debates

The National: Sir Keir Starmer focused on how he has changed the Labour party

Starmer is determined to exclude the SNP and the other parties from televised debates during the General Election campaign, insisting that discussion should be solely between him and Sunak as the only two realistic prospects as the next prime minister.

The UK does not have a presidential system. This is a parliamentary democracy. It is an alarming indication of Starmer's authoritarian instincts and contempt for democracy that he is determined to exclude the other parties contesting this election from appearing in the televised debates.

It's not a surprise. Starmer is no match for the SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, who would only expose the Labour leader’s claim to stand for “change” to be the lie that it really is.

Starmer is a Tory mini-me, committed to the failure of Brexit and the failed spending plans of the Tories. Real change is only possible if policies which are proven failures are ditched. Starmer does not have the courage to do that.

His promise of change will quickly be exposed as yet another of his lies.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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