The Squat

Geeklawyer’s temporary chambers

Nanny state at it again

Gordon Brown is not, so far, the disaster that Tony Bliar was but it is surely just a matter of time. He is at least genuinely of the left and more focussed on policy than media headlines. Of course that isn’t always a good thing. The left are inclined to paternalism and to lack any sense of global economics (Geeklawyer is not prepared to accept globalisation and it’s consequences without hesitation – but that’s another post). One, then, fears that he may be prey to all sort of crackpot thinktanks.

One such is the ministerial advisory board ‘Health England‘ who hope to force people to have a ‘difficult to get’ permit to smoke in the asinine hope that this will drive people away from destroying their lungs.

Professor Julian Le Grand seems to have left his brain sitting in a jar on the window sill while writing this report. Geeklawyer is not a smoker, apart from the very very occasional joint, and one assumes that the Professor isn’t either since only a man not lashed to the wheel of nicotine could possibly think that making someone fill in a form supply a photo and pay £10 will act as any sort of deterrence lasting more than, oooh, 10 nanoseconds.

All this will do is grow the black market & frustrate smokers, leading to unofficial buying co-operatives. Oh, and raise taxes license funds of course. Happy coincidence that.

More sensibly they suggest incentives for large companies to provide exercise hours. It says something for modern government that when one talks of the populace there is coercion compulsion and threats. But when it comes to large companies, with political clout and party contributions, one talks only of ‘incentives‘. Where is the liberal paternalism here? Where are the laws saying “Anyone who wants to exercise for an hour at work is entitled to so so without suffering any prejudice or penalty” “all companies of more than 50 employees must provide a gym“?

And what the flying fuck is “libertarian Paternalism“? This has nothing to to do with any brand of left or right libertarianism. Its proper name is statism, rebranded because socialism is no longer an acceptable political theory in Western government.

Update: More nanny statery – fireworks to be effectively banned.

February 17, 2008 - Posted by | politics |


  1. Yes… Prof le Grand Boeuf seems to be on a gravy train… Thankfully…. The British are more interested in asking morons and celebrities to act as commentators…. than serious academics from formerly left wing universities.

    I smoke…. and found Prof Le Grand’s views not to my taste… as I managed to observe this morning when I posted from Pristina…. I like Independence. West london is not quite so amusing. as it was on Friday.

    Comment by charonqc | February 17, 2008 | Reply

  2. GL…. It may be one of those scandinavian realist ‘grundnorms’… anything is possible these days. I am looking forward to the day when a leading academic is sponsored by Foxtons.

    Libertarian…. Bentham? Paternalism…… Have a look at Animal Farm… Actually… you don’t need to. The current government is adapting a few of the ideas from that book and…. references to pigs and troughs…. is most timely in these constitutionally turbulent times.

    Apparently… Cyclops is only sleeping for one to two hours a night because he is reading everything GCHQ is sending him everything of interest and concern to H M Government.

    Comment by charonqc | February 17, 2008 | Reply

  3. perhaps you area a Hegelian… GL?

    He knew a thing or two about getting in a state.

    Comment by charonqc | February 17, 2008 | Reply

  4. Hegel’s entry on Wikipedia… confirms my view. Have a look at his Facebook pic….. clearly overdone everything… He was only 23 at the time… I gather.

    Comment by charonqc | February 17, 2008 | Reply

  5. Smoking as you do Charon, I could easily predict your outrage. In truth I am unable to imagine this will have a catastrophic effect but it is just another niggle in government intrusion in our lives.

    If this is introduced I shall take up smoking so that I may be fully outraged.

    Comment by geeklawyer | February 17, 2008 | Reply

  6. I’m not a smoker, even of the occasional spliff as dear GL is wont to do, and personally find it to be a dirty habit. But I think this idea of a “smoker’s permit” is ridiculous.

    Not only will it cause the creation of an underground/black market economy in ciggies, it will also affect those who sell the cancer sticks. Legitimate trade will go down, affecting the bottom line of the average tobacconist and corner shop owner. It will affect the economy in a certain unpleasant way – though I am not suggesting that the british economy would collapse, I am suggesting that the small business owner will be affected.

    Best thing to do would be to just limit where one cannot legitimately smoke – restaurants, shopping malls/plazas, the workplace, etc.

    Comment by opinionatedbean | February 17, 2008 | Reply

  7. Intrusion into our lives by government is a slow, pernicious, insidious, perfidious, plan….

    What is surprising is that they have the collective intelligence to be able to do it. I’ve seen Question Time. I watch PMQs…. I read Hansard.

    Americans monitoring government intentions through Parliament and the BBC Parliament Channel must be completely baffled by our ability to survive as a viable state.

    I gather they have finally decided to nationalise Northern Rock… Excellent… more court cases and work for lawyers.

    You do not need to inhale to join the smokers. Brother GL…. just don’t use a cgarette holder…. that is all I ask… That would be de trop.

    Comment by charonqc | February 17, 2008 | Reply

  8. OpinionatedBean… One may not not set fire to anything, including cigarettes, in a public place in Britain – as of 1st July 2007.

    When I die… I am going to be cremated… the final smoke…. but, because of the alcohol in my body… I may well explode…. which would be good.

    Comment by charonqc | February 17, 2008 | Reply

  9. In fact… it would be very good…..

    Comment by charonqc | February 17, 2008 | Reply

  10. Charon, I dont think it likely that you will explode upon cremation – rather you are likely to “keep going” so to speak” until the Fire Brigade can be called to put you out……

    Comment by lawminx | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  11. But there would be a finite amount of rioja in Charon, as his body can absorb only so much. I think his body would burn for several years before finally petering out.

    Comment by opinionatedbean | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  12. I envision him to be like an xmas pudding: burning gently with a blue flame.

    Comment by geeklawyer | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  13. if banning fireworks is the only way of stopping people too fucking stupid to read their calendar from making explosions anywhere between mid-october and late february, then bring on the nannies. the point about a society so stupid it can no longer wipe its arse without celebrity endorsement is that somebody somewhere should make a decision for it. I’m not even worried who makes the decision any more because even the people who don’t know the difference between two newcastles can’t actually be stupider than the people en masse.
    as long as it’s not any member of the legal profession who all seem to live in some entirely different reality from me. maybe it’s all that money – be afraid of its insidious power to insulate you from real life. cosy but so bad – bit like heroin.
    ok – and maybe not that twat from the tony blair site. tho as he says at least he can spell it – oh dear – irony as in a bit like iron…

    Comment by simply wondered | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  14. These days one’s ability to spell is more related to one’s computer. My spelling is atrocious when in a hurry but that is just about haste & we all do it. I do make some bloopers I’ll confess, weird/wierd and various occasional lexical spoonerisms.

    I read the story about the two Newcastle’s and nearly wet myself – what was even more amusing was that the lucky one won’t give the money back. I’ll try that that the next time the bank credits my account with £20k of someone else’s money – it happened once!!

    Comment by geeklawyer | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  15. Opinionatedbean… perhaps I could be a beacon for freedom ?

    per your post… re-quoted below. It would be a fitting use… I shall make sure I am dead before I offer myself, of course.

    “But there would be a finite amount of rioja in Charon, as his body can absorb only so much. I think his body would burn for several years before finally petering out.”

    Comment by opinionatedbean | February 18, 2008

    Comment by charonqc | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  16. Geek,

    Fancy words for crap ideas seems to be the way things are done.

    If the nanny state wants to do something useful, it should start with closing a few Tescos.

    Comment by james c | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  17. I recall being in NW Australia some years ago, crocodile country as it happens. There was a river and a very large sign saying “Crocodiles inhabit this river. Swim at your own risk.”

    In other words, it was up to you if you wanted to get entangled with a crocodile as indeed many American tourists seemed to. Still, we are free to choose.

    In England, they would have put a fence around the river and issued all sorts of dire warnings and probably fined you for getting eaten by the crocodile.

    Comment by theladyrobinson | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  18. And in England local Police Community Support officers would stand around wondering whether to rescue you if you did get into trouble.

    Comment by geeklawyer | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  19. Charon, you can certainly be a beacon for something 🙂

    Freedom? Hmm possibly. but only if you can convince GL that he is, at heart, a disco diva.

    Comment by opinionatedbean | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  20. If the nanny state wants to do something useful, it should start with closing a few Tescos.

    ya see – we all want the nanny state if only it will do what we want it to. it’s the badge of the middle class.

    gl – i just thought it so sweet of the tonyloon that he thought ‘bliar’ was a typo!

    Comment by simply wondered | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  21. Dear Geek,

    That crocodile had better look out if it hasn’t paid its road tax.

    Comment by james c | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  22. I do not want the Nanny State because I have a dictatorship which is more fun since you can just shoot or exile people instead of helping them.

    Comment by theladyrobinson | February 18, 2008 | Reply

  23. you are our nanny, ms r. i imagine some even picture you in interesting costumes.

    Comment by simply wondered | February 19, 2008 | Reply

  24. Simply Wondered,

    I would be quite happy without a nanny state, but since we have got one it should deal with important things first.

    1 Close a few Tescos.
    2 Remove various halfwit presenters from the BBC.
    3 Allow members of the public to punch barristers on the nose.
    4 Sort out the Daily Telegraph.

    Comment by james C | February 19, 2008 | Reply

  25. James_c: I would endorse these all. 1 & 4 can be combined in the same closure program.
    2 & 3 can be merged. I heartily agree subject to the assumption that you also mean that the barristers are permitted to punch members of the public back once punched. Indeed I would also extend it to barristers being permitted to punch other barristers and even judges without being a disciplinary offence.

    Comment by geeklawyer | February 19, 2008 | Reply

  26. Simply Wondered: MsR may have more to say on ‘costumes’ of a sort later in the week 🙂

    Comment by geeklawyer | February 19, 2008 | Reply

  27. Thank you SW. They do indeed dream of such things but sadly they must only dream.

    Comment by theladyrobinson | February 19, 2008 | Reply

  28. james c – i agreed with your one-point nanny agenda and i agree with your hugely expanded 300% extra free plan for a better world. you can be our nanny (please negotiate with ms r over costume rights).
    i volunteer to do no4 – must just nip down the garage for a moment – anyone got a box of matches?
    you see how much we can achieve when we work together.

    oww – some bastard in a wig hit me! no3 surely does not extend to law students??? nanny should do something about that. give him a good spanking.
    err maybe not.

    Comment by simply wondered | February 19, 2008 | Reply

  29. Dear Simply Wondered,

    You do not get to state your nanny in the nanny state.

    Dear Geek,

    I wasn’t thinking of closing the Telegraph, but restoring it to its former glory. Sacking Jeff Randall would be a start.

    Comment by james c | February 19, 2008 | Reply

  30. Re Newcastle(s): Could Newcastle under Lyme be at risk of prosecution for theft, if their failure to give the money back is dishonest in the Ghosh sense?

    Is it even possible to prosecute a local authority?

    Back on topic, what chance is there that imposing a tax on the right to smoke will be offset by reducing the tax on purchasing tobacco? Will there be a points system, with points imposed to penalise those who smoke in no-smoking zones?

    Comment by Not a Criminal Lawyer | February 20, 2008 | Reply

  31. Liberal Paternalism has its roots in the notion of Positive Liberty as developed by Isaiah Berlin in 1958. It has an intellectual tradition in socialist thought, and thinkers such as Rousseau. The notion is of course that the State should provide and help for people in order for them to achieve a state of liberty. In this sense it could mean that the state should force people to be educated, as only educated people are capable of exercising their liberty, or it could just mean providing a welfare system so people have their basic needs met.

    The ‘nanny state’ however takes this concept and applies it with zeal to notions of health and personal well-being. Not only does it state that it provides a health care system, it also seeks to prescribe that we need to live healthy lives. In this pursuit everything from cigarettes, fireworks, alcohol, riding a bike without a helmet, taking magic mushrooms etc. is seen as a target. Personally I’m surprised that condoms haven’t been made compulsory in light of the STD epidemic.

    I’m not against positive freedom per se, but it has to be supportive rather than prescriptive. The current situation is rapidly getting out of control, and it seems the smoking ban has only encouraged the confidence of those wishing to ban things.

    I am quite worried that we may end up living in an incredibly healthy yet dull society.

    Comment by moon23 | February 20, 2008 | Reply

  32. Oh one more thing, how are we meant to learn to walk on our own two feet if we have the nanny telling us what is or isn’t good for us?

    Comment by moon23 | February 20, 2008 | Reply

  33. by doing what the fuck we want anyway, as we have always done

    for goodness’ sake chaps! i despair of my fellow members of the middle classes…
    you do not get to state your nanny in any state except the one you personally run.
    this myth of a laissez faire society with nobody in charge, is what has kept the same boring old tossers in charge for ever. it’s like the daily telegraph – without the good cricket reporting.

    Comment by simply wondered | February 20, 2008 | Reply

  34. Geeklawyer, you should be ashamed of yourself not just for reading the Daily Heil, but for actually thinking there might be even the tiniest hint of a grain of truth in anything they print without finding corroboration in an actual news source.

    Comment by David Cantrell | February 21, 2008 | Reply

  35. In my defence DavidC I would offer the Clinton defence: “I read it, but I didn’t inhale”

    Comment by geeklawyer | February 21, 2008 | Reply

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