Alex Massie

Nanny Dave & Lowered Expectations

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Tom Clougherty makes a sadly good point:

We can't rely on a Conservative government doing much to fight the nanny state. On the contrary, what we're promised is an army of local directors of public health, dedicated public health budgets, a bigger, stronger chief medical officer's department, a "holistic strategy to focus public health across departments", "a clear marketing plan to promote healthy living", and a brand spanking new QUANGO – the Public Health Commission – to oversee it all.

There was even talk a while back about an 'NHS Health Miles Card', where people would get 'reward points' for losing weight, which they could then redeem against fresh vegetables, subsidized gym membership or even priority within other public services. That last idea – government systematically discriminating between citizens based on their lifestyle choices – strikes me as particularly disturbing, but it does seem to be the direction in which we are travelling.

Perhaps the Tories will surprise us but in many of these areas the difference between the Conservatives and Labour is a matter of degree, not category. Theoretically, as Clougherty says, this should leave ample room for the Liberal Democrats to reject nanny. Sadly they too seem uninterested in doing so.

In other words, while it will be good to see the end of this tired and shabby Labour ministry let's not make the mistake of expecting too much from Dave's Conservatives.

Relatedly: those Americans who suspect that government run healthcare leads to the government ticking you off for your "lifestyle choices" and seeking to regulate your behaviour still further are, alas, absolutely correct. At least that's been the British experience.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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