The incredibly detailed plans put forward by David Cameron today on a new 21st Century National Service, which contrasted well with the warm words and fluff from Gordon Brown, are very good on a number of levels.
Politically this plays extremely well - my colleagues have been impressed and I can see it being a big vote winner in middle England. It also got Cameron his best headlines in, amongst others, The Sun. However good the political success, I do have one slight query - will it work?
The plan is brilliant and something I would have loved to have done, not that many years ago! It will instill a sense of pride, promote charities, develop skills and hopefully find a decent outlet for some of that energy they seem to have. But like so many things, this is a plan which will appeal to many "shinies" - that is the term for young people who will get involved with everything and do their best.
The trouble is that these shinies are not the ones terrorising council estates, damaging parks, swearing at residents or stealing cars. And as the plan is - so far - voluntary there won't be the system in place to force them.
As good as this is - and it is good - I think that it won't hit the targets we need to hit. This proposal may provide a way out for some of those who "hang-on" to gangs but it won't impact the ringleaders.
Cameron got that answer a few days ago - a partnership between parents (first and foremost), schools and the police must do that.