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Nannyish or neglectful

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Mark Easton | 18:23 UK time, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Where does Britain figure in a league table of nanny states? Well, according to boffins in the prime minister's Strategy Unit in 2004, about two thirds of the way down (see below). Some will argue we have moved rapidly up the league since them.

The government's recent interventions on smoking, access to benefits, junk food, gambling and prostitution reflect a philosophical shift in Whitehall that can be traced back to the turn of the millennium. Before I expand on that - a bit of context.

In 1848 the first British Public Health Act which brought water and sewage systems under state control was opposed as "paternalistic" and "despotic".

In the early 70s there was public resistance to the compulsory wearing of seatbelts. More recently, bans on smoking in public places were regarded as the epitome of the nanny state.

It has been a long process, but the government's role in encouraging behavioural change is accelerating. The signs of a rethink on the balance between state and individual responsibility emerged in the Treasury's Wanless review of the NHS in 2002.

It talked of the huge cost savings associated with having a "fully engaged" public. What it meant was that getting people to change their behaviour is far more cost-effective than doling out drugs.

"In absolute cost terms, the NHS currently spends around ten times as much on statins as it does on smoking cessation programmes. In cost effectiveness terms, smoking cessation has been estimated to cost between £212 and £873 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) compared to a range of £4,000 to £8,000 per QALY for statins."

The message was clear. "The achievement of major policy outcomes, requires greater engagement and participation from citizens - 'governments can't do it alone'." That was the conclusion of another Whitehall think-tank, the Strategy Unit working to the prime minister in the Cabinet Office.

Graph showing government's responsibiltyIn 2004 the unit published Personal Responsibility and Changing Behaviour [pdf link] - effectively a blueprint for greater state intervention to influence public behaviour in areas like health and welfare. (The chart to the right can be found on page 13 of the report.)

The document surmised that "people in Britain appear fairly comfortable with the balance that UK policy has generally struck between state and individual responsibility." That balance, it suggested, put Britain mid-way through the nanny state league.

In the USA and Scandinavia, voters have tended to favour a shift towards more individual responsibility while people in Latin America, Japan and the former Soviet Union want government to exert greater control.

The British public doesn't seem too exercised either way and so, the strategists argued, the UK could afford to tilt more towards a state intervention model.

"It was once unthinkable to ban smoking on aircraft; now it is almost unthinkable to allow it," they pointed out. "Similarly, today's narrowly-balanced attitudes towards the state ban on prostitution reflect a steady softening in attitudes among the public over the past 20 years."

Within a few months of the document's publication, a strategy document on public health policy in England was published. It is obvious how emboldened ministers had become.

The White Paper railed at the "sterile national debate... between those proposing a heavy handed nanny state on one hand, and those supporting inactivity bordering on neglect in the name of individual freedom on the other."

Suddenly Whitehall was awash with initiatives to change behaviour - on health, welfare, the environment and crime.

"Higher levels of spending and better-run public services can achieve improved outcomes. But in the long-run improvements depend as much on changes in personal behaviour" is the government's argument.

But do we want to be more like Austria or more like Moldova?

Comments

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  • 1. At 7:46pm on 09 Dec 2008, PWS1950 wrote:

    I left the UK 15 years ago because of the "nanny" state it was becoming then, so now I guess it's a whole lot worse.
    As it happens I settled in the USA where although you mention it has moved towards individual responsibility, I have to tell you it is catching up fast.
    Thankfully the constitution resists the most ardent supporters of government intervention, however, the courts here tend to be a little liberal with their interpretations. I also am a little concerned about how much our new president will, being a democrat, want his government to get involved in my life.

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  • 2. At 7:54pm on 09 Dec 2008, sweetsmellofsuccess wrote:

    Mark,

    Your choice of 'evidence' is flawed, isn't it? A report by the hardly-independent Cabinet Office is not really the basis for a conclusion that we are all ready for more interventionist government.

    Further, the question asked for the graph you reproduce is deeply flawed. It asks if the individual thinks government should become MORE responsible, or if the individual should become MORE responsible. Doesn't that depend on where you start from? I find it unlikely that the USA would like a bigger state sector than, say, France or Germany. This graph doesn't actually represent evidence to that effect.

    On the wider issue, I think we need to differentiate between government regulation and government intervention. A government-owned car company would get very little support (especially for those of us who remember British Leyland). A sharp government focus on child protection issues would probably be welcomed.

    That said, it is true that the debate is 'sterile' when the two parties are arguing about £15-20bn on a £600bn a year spending programme. If you were behind someone in a queue arguing about whether to pay 29p or 30p for something, you'd think their 'dilemma' was pretty irrelevant. In government terms, it's about how you spend the money - and therefore the quality/timing/focus of your intervention - rather than the macro-cost of your macro-intervention.

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  • 3. At 8:02pm on 09 Dec 2008, tedyeoman wrote:

    When it comes to spending my taxes I'm not sure which would be worse a drug taking, smoking, obese, binge drinking, reckless group of Chavs or a drug taking, smoking, obese, binge drinking, reckless group of politicians?

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  • 4. At 8:04pm on 09 Dec 2008, Rachel Blackburn wrote:

    Well, actually stopping people from smoking costs the nation an additional fortune in pension payments because they then live longer!

    Which doesn't mean there isn't still a moral case for encouraging them to do so - only that the economic case, as with so much else in the vicinity of Gordon Brown, is just so much ill-considered nonsense.

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  • 5. At 8:25pm on 09 Dec 2008, tarquin wrote:

    An eternal question

    of course any further state involvement in any area is likely to bring up concern - it happened as Mark said in the late 19th century with public works, also the police around then too, income tax was originally an emergency, temporary tax, the NHS, and as Mark said seatbelts, and anything else you choose to remember (even a standing army)

    That these are all now considered standard is sometimes used as a defence for government intrusion and how it can be a good thing and that those opposed are self-centred conservatives who were in the long run completely wrong

    So by that logic in fifty years maybe society will not be able to live without the anti-smoking laws, somewhat unlikely in this case but you see the point, those bleating on about the nanny state are just standing in the way of progress

    or are they? - plenty of government intrusion has failed on its ar.....backside

    and this is usually 'behavioural' - take prohibition, laws on drugs, gambling, prostitution, even sports - all get flouted and in the end, fail

    So there is a line somewhere within how much the state should stick its oar in, only history can really prove it - but there seems to be a distinction between that which is designed to help as society and technology progresses (take police in an increasingly urbanised nation, or universal health care as medical science rocketed)

    and then look at that which is an instance of we're being told what to do, or restricted for little purpose (remember ID cards were originally scrapped after the war)

    In short it's a difficult balancing act, and I feel this government has go way overboard (or maybe just too quickly?) in trying to influence and control us.....and yet it has introduced the minimum wage

    tricky issue

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  • 6. At 9:19pm on 09 Dec 2008, Andrew Swallow wrote:

    I noticed an interesting thing about the lists tarquin wrote. The items/services the rich purchased for themselves and their children tended to work when the state supplied them to the working class. The things the rich did not want turned out to be exploitations of the working class.

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  • 7. At 9:36pm on 09 Dec 2008, Anaxim wrote:

    Fifty years ago, we had ID cards, national service, criminalised homosexuality, blasphemy laws and heavy censorship. Despite the underlying message of this blog, it hasn't been an inevitable march of more state control. Quite the opposite.

    Labour are undoing that progress. The justifications range from reasonable (smoking ban) to ludicrous (blocking Wikipedia). Every week, it seems to get worse.

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  • 8. At 9:37pm on 09 Dec 2008, machinehappydays wrote:

    When Government sets out to change people it is time for a change of Government.
    We are not a herd to be shooed in whatever direction the Present Gov. thinks is right and proper.
    High handed, arrogant and nasty.
    People change in spite of Government not because of them.
    As for the smoking ban the Irish experience shows it hasn't worked.
    All that money to ban a cig. ruin pubs, clubs, bingo halls etc. when the country is already on it's knees, what an awful waste.
    Two wars, No referendum, No money left, Our rights and liberties constantly under attack.
    Would Labour be a listening, ( I feel your pain) sort of government?
    Resign Now Labour.

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  • 9. At 9:41pm on 09 Dec 2008, wykhamist wrote:

    I am sick of this government meddling with people's lives with poorly thought out laws.

    To be honest I do not see the point in forcing people to adopt lifestyles which will extend their lives, when we will not have the healthcare resources or money to look after them in their extended old age.

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  • 10. At 10:14pm on 09 Dec 2008, the-real-truth wrote:

    Why do people care if others smoke?

    Because the government have chosen to force every tax payer to pay the smokers medical bills.

    The solution isn't to get more nannyish about smoking - it is to get less nannyish over medical bills.

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  • 11. At 10:21pm on 09 Dec 2008, Michael wrote:

    What worries me is that the more that the Government tells people that it knows best how they should live their lives the less responsibility people then take for themselves.

    No one seems to stop and think that 'the government' is just a group of people just like the rest of us who make mistakes, try to bunk off early on a Friday afternoon and interpret statistics according to our own values rather than being objective.

    How long before they decide that holding certain political vies is just plain wrong and that 're-education' will stop us from being miserable and is thus in our best interest.

    I already find that children are taught certain 'truths' based on an agenda from the Government rather an objective assessment of the facts.

    I fear that individual tragedies such as the failings in social services will just result in those who think that there way is the only way will take an even bigger role in how we bring up our children. Again the reason that we have parents who are unable to cope with children is because they (the parents) have never had to take responsibility for their own lives.

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  • 12. At 10:30pm on 09 Dec 2008, tarquin wrote:

    1 PWS1950

    I'm surprised you feel more free in the US, in what area do you feel less nannied? you can carry weapons a bit more freely, and pay less tax

    but - prohibitive laws on gambling and homosexuality, a higher drinking age, lower speed limits, tougher smoking laws (certain states admittedly), stricter censorship of tv

    then of course don't forget the patriot act, guantanamo, and the toughest border security in the world (where they take foreigners biometrics and hold them, but it's only foreigners I guess) - oh and then there's the religious right having a huge impact on politics - that's not strictly government nannying but I wouldn't define having such a strong religious impact as particularly free

    6. Andrew Swallow

    good point - let capitalism find what we do need and then let the state help those who can't afford it, although we're veering into provision of services rather than behavioural control legislation a bit

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  • 13. At 11:41pm on 09 Dec 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    the universal problem of my rights are my rights and no one has the right to tell me my rights. Some would say they have the authority to inflict what they consider good for us. but at what time in life is this good for us while we are of value. The amount of law and bylaw and rewrites of the law have just made for a very confused sociaty.

    I see posts about smokers already causing the collapse of the world of free health care. When in truth they pay much more in tax than anyone and when totted up pay for themselves 4 times over for the burden they provide the NHS maybe in future generations this will no longer be true but i doubt it.
    The medical bill is an issue and people should try to live a healthy life but not an angelic one by state order. If the goverment were totaly serious about the general health of the nation alcohol should be on a weekly ration book that would fix a lot of burden on the health system.

    Religious rights are brushed under the carpet in this country or at least if they are not deemed popular by another group or goverment think tanks.

    This morning I woke up in a curfew;
    O God, I was a prisoner, too - yeah!

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  • 14. At 00:02am on 10 Dec 2008, IanBzzzz wrote:

    I don't think the lack of resistance is public acquiesence, as such. I am bitterly opposed to the "nanny state", to its objectionable imposition of Temperance, to the coddling by Elf'N'Safety, and to the expansion of government into every aspect of the citizen's life. I am terrified of the future- that we are entering a period of social totalitarianism without precedent. And yet, other than ranting on the occasional blog, I do nothing to resist.

    Why?

    Because I feel entirely disempowered. Decisions are made far beyond my grasp- such as the awful ban on tobacco display announced today. These policies are decided by an enormous, internationalised, network of bureaucrats, pressure groups and politicians. By the time they are publicised they are a fait accompli, as was the heinous smoking ban. I can write to my MP- and I do, occasionally, but that will do no good. The media will not fairly present my views, cheerleading instead for the temperance groups. There is nothing I can do. I sit here, fuming and furious, aware that I can do nothing but take what is imposed upon me.

    Voters numbers are falling every election. People are awakening to the futility of voting for members of a political class who are, to all intents and purposes, of a single mind on every issue, from the growth of the state to anti-tobacco, alcohol, tasty foods, personal freedom to the European Union.

    We are not accepting of the total state. We are beaten by it. We have lost hope. There is literally nothing we can do.

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  • 15. At 00:13am on 10 Dec 2008, enneffess wrote:

    I'm an ex-smoker and teetotal and have never tried drugs. Just thought I'd mention this first.

    Re the smoking display bans; this will do nothing to stop people smoking. All it will do is add costs to retailers already struggling.

    The smoking ban in Scotland has decimated a lot of the pub and bingo trade. Yes there are health benefits but the economy suffers.

    As for a nanny state, the Government would be better dealing with alcohol. After all - to quote Richard Littlejohn - when was the last time you heard of someone smoking six fags and then going out to batter someone?

    Alcohol causes far more problems than smoking. But there is this reluctance to deal with it or go about it in the wrong way, such as the Scottish Government raising the age to 21.

    Education is the way forward. Start with teaching children in school the problems of smoking and drinking.

    We also have the healthy eating brigade out in force. Jamie Oliver overdoes things as well. I'm in favour of my kids eating healthy but what's wrong with sweets and chips now and again?

    The media are much to blame as well. If they is to believed there are packs of paedophiles roaming the streets.

    Cameras are not allowed in schools in case the nativity pictures - if you are allowed a nativity play, might upset other religions - appear on the Internet.

    No conkers unless you wear safety glasses and chainmail gloves.

    In my town, no bonfire night - cancelled at the last minute - in case of fire! Despite thirty odd years and not a single incident.

    Schools not allowed to have races in case someone gets upset at losing. Kids football games having scores changed for the same reason. But that's if the school still has football pitches!

    Children need to learn to fail. It makes them more determined to suceed. That is essential in business.

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  • 16. At 00:38am on 10 Dec 2008, cernunnos1 wrote:

    Mark

    Your comment that public opinion on issues like prostitution is "narowly balanced" is totally inaccurate. All the recent polls show the public believe it should be legalised, that protecting prostitutes comes first and are heavily against criminalising sex workers or their clients. In fact, a recent poll by politics co uk showed that 95% were AGAINST the governments plan to criminalise clients.

    That's hardly a sign of a "narrowly balanced" opinion.

    On a wide point, its obvious why government are increasingly bossy and interfering.. They've utterly failed to manage the country so now they're settling for managing us. Any failure in policy can be neatly blamed on the electorate.

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  • 17. At 00:39am on 10 Dec 2008, cernunnos1 wrote:

    Your comment that public opinion on issues like prostitution is "narowly balanced" is totally inaccurate. All the recent polls show the public believe it should be legalised, that protecting prostitutes comes first and are heavily against criminalising sex workers or their clients. In fact, a recent poll by politics co uk showed that 95% were AGAINST the governments plan to criminalise clients.

    That's hardly a sign of a "narrowly balanced" opinion.

    On a wide point, its obvious why government are increasingly bossy and interfering.. They've utterly failed to manage the country so now they're settling for managing us. Any failure in policy can be neatly blamed on the electorate.

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  • 18. At 02:21am on 10 Dec 2008, redstar77 wrote:

    Aristotle believed a good government should encourage citizens to live a good life - ie virtuous, serve the state, fulfilled...
    The question is how.
    Public education has certainly contributed to that as has public health care.
    Don't merely dismiss anything that the government does by referring to a "nanny state." That is not an argument. It is a slogan.
    Shouldn't governments make laws to protect citizens from abuses or would you like to go back to the hellish 19th century.

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  • 19. At 03:11am on 10 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #15 Neil_Small147

    "Re the smoking display bans; this will do nothing to stop people smoking. All it will do is add costs to retailers already struggling.

    The smoking ban in Scotland has decimated a lot of the pub and bingo trade. Yes there are health benefits but the economy suffers."


    Congratulations on being an ex-smoker, but some of us are weaker than you. The cigarette display behind the counter has tempted me back to smoking more than once - why else do you think the tobacco industry pays for these installations?

    When these advertisements for addictive drugs are abolished, I'll give non-smoking another go.

    There is a strange dichotomy between your concern for the decline in pub sales and your later concern for the bad effects of alcohol sales. You really need to have a consistent approach.

    When opium, cocaine etc were made illegal that must have had a detrimental effect on the economy. What would your approach have been to that?

    "Education is the way forward. Start with teaching children in school the problems of smoking and drinking."

    Oh please! When I was at school in the 1950's, the problems with smoking and drinking were taught. Schools cannot overcome societal pressures.

    "I'm in favour of my kids eating healthy but what's wrong with sweets and chips now and again?"

    Obviously nothing, but there is a huge problem of "nutritional deserts" in areas where no healthy foods are available locally in significant areas of poor urban conurbations - the world is not all like East Kilbride!

    "The media are much to blame as well. If they is to believed there are packs of paedophiles roaming the streets."

    I wholly agree. The media create a climate of fear. However, people also believe other such stories from the red-tops which results in people like you repeating such nonsense as "Schools not allowed to have races in case someone gets upset at losing."

    If you can quote a single Scottish Education Authority which has this as policy, I'll join you in condemning it.

    Which Scottish Education Authority do you want me to condemn?

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  • 20. At 05:07am on 10 Dec 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    i think it looks more like a nanny state....

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  • 21. At 08:34am on 10 Dec 2008, angusdei wrote:

    The first point is, yes smokers cost the NHS money, but the point that is never made is that smokers produce, through tax, a Profit of about £6 Billion to the exchequer.

    I really think you have this backward, the Government is elected by the people to represent the best interests of the people.

    Yes I agree, people should wear seatbelts, and should not smoke on planes, or in enclosed spaces wher there are other "non smoking" people.

    But the fact that they smoke is B****r all to do with the government, it is a personal preference, Drinkers cost the NHS around £20 Billion a year and provide around £7 billion a year in tax, a loss of £13 Billion.

    But you don't see drinkers being forced to enjoy their habit only on the streets, or in kiosks.

    And once again drinking is a personal preference, if drinkers are causing other problems such as anti-social behaviour or an unacceptable strain on the NHS then the Gov should take action

    Child abuse is not a personal preference and should be addressed by the Government, as are the paltry sums paid to pensioners and the disabled and the sick.

    Yes we are living in a nanny state, the Gov is trying to tell us what we should do, what we should eat, and how we should think.

    What the theme here is that the Goverment is there to make sure we are safe and that activities that are detrimental to us all are addressed, not to force us to conform to the Governments idea of what they think we should do and think.

    That is not the remit of Government, that is the remit of a dictatorship, not a democracy.

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  • 22. At 08:43am on 10 Dec 2008, zenaidagumpad wrote:

    The State has long involved itself and legislated on matters for which it has not received any mandate from the electorate.

    There are many examples. Capital punishment and immigration being but two examples.

    Personally I am against capital punishment. However, I recognize that the electorate are never consulted on this issue but would would probably vote in favour of its re-introduction for certain types of crime.

    Immigration is another issue that causes great frustration to the electorate as no party actually states a clear policy in its manifesto. The Immigration policy of the UK is fundamentally flawed and is not based on the views of the electorate. It is decided by the Government without reference to the voting public. I would adopt far more stringent rules. Work visas should require the sponsorship of the company wishing to provide employment to a non-national. The company should be responsible for all tax payments of the employee and for returning the person to their country of origin following completion of employment. Gaining British nationality should be like the trials of Ulysses ensuring that the individual is suited to integrate into society.

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  • 23. At 09:09am on 10 Dec 2008, j evans wrote:

    Dear Mark
    The Britsih Government are a Nanny state because it can or attempts to control every one
    The Establishment are scared out of their wits that they will loose Control by not getting involved.
    They use the Nanny State to be invasive, and to SPY on people, (means testing)
    Britains are slowly but surely loosing any respect for a 1000 years of History, due to Multiculturism, and it is History the Government does not like people prying into. History is what made Britain, now its destroying the Establishment as the truth slowly but surely opens up as to what really happened,that makes Historic fact questionable. "The Establishments linen is being aired."
    What may you ask has this to with the Nanny state and Neglect,
    We are nothing without our History but it has been Controlled as to what the Establishment want us to believe and they purposely neglect to tell you the truth, by Trying to Control every aspect of life in Britain.
    They really are Frightened of the Bristish Public, and as the Generations pass us bye, the watering down of History, and the increase conrtrol in the Nanny state ensures the Establishment keeps things under control, this is done not by accident or neglect, but by Purpose to control the masses.

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  • 24. At 09:27am on 10 Dec 2008, littleredhouse wrote:

    The Government appears to want to put things in place "which will benefit" every one. The government tries to justify the various bans on cigarettes as "health related" and takes draconian steps to enforce this. Contrary to common belief the Government receives more money from the tax on cigarettes than the cost to the NHS for smoking related diseases i.e. the government makes a profit. The biggest cost to the NHS is disease and illness relating to obesity and weight issues yet they choose not to take equally draconian actions in this area. They bring in Health and Safety regulations in an attempt to "protect" people which it would seem at first a good point in protecting people in the work place and public - but it's interpretation gets taken to extremes - no more conkers at school - bonkers. My daughter went 2 years through GCSE science without performing ANY experiments - health and safety. It appears that anything that gets proposed with good intentions gets "nannyfied" to the extreme whilst other areas that should theoretically be receiving the same level of attention gets ignored. I am glad that I don't live in Great Browntown anymore. It's true other countries do have levels on nannyness but it's the level that it is taken to. From that I would say that UK must be top of the list

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  • 25. At 10:15am on 10 Dec 2008, zenaidagumpad wrote:

    I am non-resident and have been so for many years. Interesting that some of the participants to this blog are non-resident to the UK!

    Although well intentioned the Government does not understand that the vast majority of the population are unconcerned and therefore do not want additional laws telling them what to do. There are important issues and there should be consultation with the populace on these.

    I smoke and sincerely wish I did not. However, is not hypocracy to collect tax and demand that health warnings are displayed and then consider denying smoker's health care.

    If cigarettes were banned as they are undoubtedly a health risk most people would stop smoking - most people are law abiding. The Government should give tobacco companies 5 years to get out of the business in the UK.

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  • 26. At 11:07am on 10 Dec 2008, tarquin wrote:

    17 cernunnos1

    Very true the public are generally pro-legalisation

    however, as we all know, politics is not a numbers game - it's all about the dominant groups

    Generally people think legalisation of prostitution is a sane, rational thing to do - however does the daily mail agree? of course it doesn't

    So the government blindly play to the moral police of the tabloids, and on an issue that isn't exactly a priority for most, it's a winner for that oh-so-important vocal minority

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  • 27. At 12:13pm on 10 Dec 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    #25
    If cigarettes were banned as they are undoubtedly a health risk most people would stop smoking - most people are law abiding. The Government should give tobacco companies 5 years to get out of the business in the UK.

    How very mistaken if tobacco was banned in the UK then it would become like cannabis very polluted and generally unsafe. With what as a deterrent prison? fines? refusal of health care?

    Most people like to think they are law abiding when in fact they are not. There are now to many laws to say anyone is free of committing crime.

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  • 28. At 12:22pm on 10 Dec 2008, newSweetMonkey2 wrote:

    Unfortunately there are huge areas in the UK, such as sink estates where people have just given up. They can't parent their own children, live on benefits and think everybody else is going to sort them out.

    These are the people who abdicate all responsibility of their children to the school and other official bodies. They can't look after themselves, let alone the hoards of children they are churning out year after year.

    These are the type of people the government are trying to control, not the law abiding, working, responsible citizens, but unfortunately you can't single out individuals so the rest of the people have to suffer the nannying.

    But surely everybody can see the way things are going in the inner cities - some places are outside the law altogether, with drugs and crime rife. Who is going to govern these people?

    Society in the UK is breaking down slowly and unless somebody from the government steps up to the plate with drastic measures then nothing is going to change.

    Hopefully these new reforms regarding disability benefits will take hold. Already my brother has noticed his neighbour with a 'bad back' hasn't been cleaning their car or gardening lately. This is the area which needs closely looking at, but unfortunately with some people they are so cunning they will survive - and still receive a huge amount of money to support their live style.

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  • 29. At 12:24pm on 10 Dec 2008, PhilT wrote:

    So this is why my local radio station is full of adverts telling me to blow my nose on a hanky.

    Whatever the state of the economy you can be sure that government waste and the nanny state will continue as normal.

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  • 30. At 1:36pm on 10 Dec 2008, enneffess wrote:

    #19 oldnat.

    I see you too have ventured away from Expat - sorry brian's blog.


    With regards to the school races etc, there have been a couple of documented cases in England. I wasn't aware of any in Scotland but was trying to make a general point.

    There seems be more PC nanny nonsense in England, but I fear Scotland is trying to catch up.

    Re smoking, I gave up through getting the living s*** scared out of me in hospital, otherwise I would have carried on. I'm no anti-smoking/drinking nazi either, but I hate anti-social behaviour caused by drink.

    Education can help if it is shocking rather than the normal "don't do this it is bad". It obviously won't work for everyone.

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  • 31. At 4:13pm on 10 Dec 2008, Freddie wrote:

    I don't mind the whole non-smoking issue but I do mind that our government seems to think the "ban it" policy is the most effective one whenever it can't think of a solution.

    So many times I ask myself what ever happened to common sense?

    The health and safety and the PC brigades have a lot to answer for.

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  • 32. At 6:53pm on 10 Dec 2008, Vulkenstein wrote:

    Government, in my view, has two functions: firstly, to provide services that cannot otherwise be reasonably provided, and, secondly, to set and police, by regulation, the moral parameters within which society functions.

    It is not, generally, the role of government to tell people what to eat, where they can and cannot smoke, or whether they should wear a crash helmet or seat-belt when travelling. These are matters of individual choice. And, equally, it is not the role of government to pick up the pieces - sometime literally - when people make the wrong choices and suffer as a consequence.

    Call me old fashioned, but I believe in self-reliance, personal responsibility, and individual freedom.

    Nanny state? No thanks!

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  • 33. At 9:30pm on 10 Dec 2008, newSweetMonkey2 wrote:

    "Call me old fashioned, but I believe in self-reliance, personal responsibility, and individual freedom"

    Unfortunately this is what was given to Karen Mathews and look what happened. It's pointless giving personal responsibility to the feckless as they just abuse the law. Where was her self-reliance when it came to her children, who were neglected, starved and drugged?

    This is exactly my point which I made earlier. Some people just aren't socialised, and have no idea of social norms. They have huge amounts of kids who in the end have to be taken care of by the government and the tax payers. These are the people being targetted by the government.

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  • 34. At 10:39pm on 10 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #30 Neil_Small147

    I'm happy to bore people with my views on any blog!

    Did you see that Glasgow is planning to keep all S1 in school during lunchtime and intervals - in order to keep them away from junk food?

    Technically, that might be interpreted as false imprisonment.

    Encouragement is good, but this move striles me as insane. I could never have survived secondary school, if I hadn't been able to escape the crowds at break times. If my child were at a Glasgow school, I would take out an action against them.

    This is the nanny council in action.

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  • 35. At 00:49am on 11 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #15 Neil_Small147

    Firstly, I'm not going to hound you all night. I have a message from Expat - kidding :-D

    "Children need to learn to fail. It makes them more determined to suceed. That is essential in business."

    Now, I'm wondering, did you learn to fail? If so, are you more determined to succeed?
    Great. Then with your efforts and such an example we could all create that independent Scotland?
    Come on, you do want to ;-)

    (Without nanny state = the thread!)

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  • 36. At 7:29pm on 11 Dec 2008, Vulkenstein wrote:

    "33. At 9:30pm on 10 Dec 2008, newSweetMonkey2 wrote:
    "Call me old fashioned, but I believe in self-reliance, personal responsibility, and individual freedom"

    Unfortunately this is what was given to Karen Mathews and look what happened. It's pointless giving personal responsibility to the feckless as they just abuse the law. Where was her self-reliance when it came to her children, who were neglected, starved and drugged?"

    Ah, but under my regime, her sort would get no benefits. Without them, they would wither away, or, at least, not proliferate to such a degree. I would even condone their sterilisation.


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  • 37. At 00:42am on 12 Dec 2008, lettucego wrote:

    Since the mid-18th century regulation by and centralisation of government has gradually picked up speed. Each of us can see a point to *some* of this. What seems to have happened is that bureaucracy has become an end in itself rather than a means to an end.

    It is impossible for any government to control millions of people all of the time, so they resort to 'collaboration'. In other words, we have to do it for them. For that to happen we have to be convinced that there are those among us who *have* to be helped even in spite of themselves. It's a kind of religious fervour.

    The manipulation of individual against individual is the result: you're fat - I disapprove of you; you smoke - I disapprove of you. Where did tolerance go - and minding your own business?

    While we are concerning ourselves with whether our neighbours are feeding their children according to government guidelines, or whether we really can smell cigarette smoke in that shop, we won't concern ourselves with things that really matter like global warming, Iraq, Afghanistan, and so on and so on. For all the controlling and regulating we still can't control or regulate the economy.

    And while everyone is blaming Labour for the so-called Nanny State, just have a look at the archives for some of the policies of the Thatcher governments - especially if you want to know why Social Services isn't up to much these days (for example), or how we achieved that triumph of the Welfare State - Care in the Community.

    Some government intervention is essential, but not in our personal lives.

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  • 38. At 12:58pm on 12 Dec 2008, Reddollar wrote:

    I have found over the last 11 years of this Labour government that the government has incessently seeped into every conceivable part of everybody's lives. They are telling you what to eat, when to eat (e.g. pregnancy) certain foodstuffs, they have hounded both smokers and drivers mercilessly (both of which are very big contributers to the treasury coffers), they are slowly creeping into normal practice that smokers should not get any medical help despite the fact they are taxed disproportionately etc etc. Labour has always been synonomous with a nanny state.

    The Christmas of 1997 had the television stations incessently running the advertisement of how to cook your chicken/turkey. It must have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds just for that alone. Why did they feel it was necessary? Did at least one person of every household in Britain land up in hospital with salmonella/food poisoning? After hundreds of years of celebrating Christmas with either turkey or chicken the proportion of people who don't cook their fowl properly is miniscule.

    Britain (I won't call it Great Britain because Labour has totally ruined this once great country) is now most defiinitely a nanny state. Roll on the time when the population are allowed to stand on their own two feet once again.

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  • 39. At 12:47pm on 14 Dec 2008, noitmem80 wrote:

    ref ianbzzz at 14
    i dont think i could add anything to this gentlemans comments except maybe something along the lines of " hitting the nail on the head"

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