Coffee House

Voters say goodbye to nanny

20 August 2012

Has nanny finally blown it?  That was what we sought to find out.  After having the state tell us what to eat and drink, how to exercise, and even how to cook turkey, anecdotal evidence suggests people are growing tired of it all and would like nanny to stop being so bossy.  A small group of self-styled ‘experts’ who think they know better than we do how to live our lives seems to have persuaded government to bully us into compliance.

In 1998 the Adam Smith Institute surveyed, with a polling organisation, the attitudes of the younger generation.  We found then that they didn’t expect government to gain them a job, they scored politicians and civil servants low in the admiration stakes, and nearly half (48 per cent) wanted to run their own business.

We decided to commission a different poll, 14 years on, to see if the changed economy has changed attitudes.  The answer seems to be ‘not much’.  Most people don’t look to the government to secure them a job or a pension, although difficulties that first time home buyers now find in gaining a mortgage or putting together a big enough deposit, have led more people to think government should help in that area.


The 18-24 age group (49 per cent) still want to run their own business at some stage, which looks promising for Britain’s entrepreneurial future.  There is little support for nannying.  Asked if Government should provide advice on what foods to eat and how much to drink, 48 per cent disagree and only 22 per cent agree.

Asked if politicians and civil servants are well-equipped to make personal decisions on their behalf, nearly two out of three Britons (65 per cent) disagree, versus only 9 per cent who agree.

It finally looks as though nanny might have had her chips, though of course she should not be eating fatty foods like that, and certainly not with a liberal sprinkling of salt…

Dr Madsen Pirie is president of the Adam Smith Institute.

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  • Heartless etc.,

    It finally looks as though nanny might have had her chips

    I presume you mean the Bliarist state so beloved of the H2B, who, so long as he (the H2B) remains in token ‘control’ will never relinquish it.

    ‘To Govern is to Control’ is the EUSSR mantra. The H2B dare not disagree.

  • Daniel Maris

    49% of 18-24 year olds probably confidently expect to win X Factor after appearing on Big Brother.

    Meanwhile it seems that 95% of bankers expect government to prop up their failing institutions while they continue to increase their take home pay.

  • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

    People say they don’t like state intervention but then when you ask them what they think should be done about problems X Y and Z they immediately show themselves up to be card-carrying members of the “Something Must Be Done” brigade. Furthermore if they weren’t fans of Big Brother they wouldn’t keep voting for such intellectually bankrupt parties in the first place. Voting yourself a slice of your neighbour’s wage isn’t something people would like to admit being fond of.

  • Magnolia

    Plain packaging for cigarettes is already the law in Australia and our government is looking at it. Once this catches on there will be pressure for plain packaging for all sorts of other ‘nasty’ things such as fatty, sweet and salty foods or bottles of wine, perhaps even high heeled or platform shoes? And what about plain packaging for those nasty motorbikes!
    These are the sort of things that are ‘bad’ for you and which can lead to costs on government money. What a strange world that will be when we get there. No one seems to argue for the other approach which is to put the element of decision about risk on to the individual voter themselves and for them to be responsible for the consequences of their own decisions. It’s implied that big bad business and big bad advertising is too powerful for the little person and too lucrative for government in tax and jobs. Why can’t the government just print a list of all the dangers out there and ask the newspapers and educational establishments to disseminate the updates as a charitable, worthy, free public service. Anyone who gets caught out will have had a warning and will have to cover the consequences. The youngsters may not like nanny much but they are still trained by their politicians to fullfil their infantilised voter role.

    • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

      I wish there was a way to slap health warnings all over the duopolistic parties we have in this country. Governments kill more people than the bubonic plague and smoking combined.

    • Nicholas

      The problem with all these organisations that push for these things is that they never stop. They need to constantly extend their remits in order to continue to justify their existence and taxpayer funded salaries. Once one step is achieved they want the next. As with cigarettes, now with alcohol and food. What next?

  • Mark M

    There are approx 6m people in this country aged 18-24 so it is good news that 3m of them want to run their own business. The problem we have is that it takes less than 0.01% of them to write bad rules that make owning a business almost impossible.

    Yes, only a couple of hundred MPs with good intention writing bad rules can ruin the entrepreneurial future of millions of people.

    • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

      I’m hoping that a generation of young people will have a more ‘realistic’ view of what government is and is not good at doing after becoming intimately acquainted with the propensity of said government for loading massive amounts of debt onto the young who know no better.

  • Bruce, UK

    Nanny is dead, Nurse Ratched is in charge now.

  • Archimedes

    Perhaps Sarah Wollaston could take note.

  • Nicholas

    Ha! If you think this means Nanny has had her chips think again. There are just too many lucrative “jobs” within the public sector, quangos, fake charities and various “agencies” which are dependent on telling other people how they should live their lives. One of the most recent is “Change4Life” a multi-faceted “initiative” that treats grown adults as morons or children in the most patronising and banal way imaginable. Who is behind it? How is it being funded? Good questions! You should explore “agents of change” as well. There are enormous numbers of these organisations, often connected and mutually supporting, across a whole range of subjects. What does it all cost? Good question. What are the actual benefits? Good question. Is it all related to Common Purpose? Probably.

    • Strapworld

      You are right, of course, Nicholas, The question for Dr. Pirie and Fraser Nelson is who has ever investigated Common Purose? Can they inform of any newspaper, magazine, radio or television programme that has featured what is ‘Common Purpose’ and who in National politics, Local Politics and which organisations, companies and State bodies, such as Armed Services, Police, NHS, Education etc have paid for their people to attend Common Purpose courses?
      Now that would be a very revealing and, I believe, quite worrying article.

    • Strapworld

      Or, in the words of the Watergate informer, “Just follow the money”. Right back to the EUSSR?

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