Madsen Pirie

Voters say goodbye to nanny

Voters say goodbye to nanny
Text settings

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.