Marcus Berkmann

When posters told us our place

A review of Keep Britain Tidy and Other Posters From the Nanny State, edited by Hester Vaizey. The voice of welfare Britain was intolerably bossy – but some of the graphics are beautiful

[Getty Images/Shutterstock/iStock/Alamy]

As a sign of the way things have changed, nothing could better this. Hester Vaizey, Cambridge history don and ‘publishing co-ordinator’ at the National Archives, has collated this splendid collection of posters issued by various government agencies in the 30 years or so after the second world war. This was, of course, the heyday and highwater mark of what furious red-faced men of my acquaintance now call ‘the nanny state’ — a phrase, incidentally, first used by an editor of The Spectator (Iain Macleod) in the pages of this magazine back in 1965.

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