Last summer Boggart Blog announced that our old enemy Nanny State was terminally ill, Dave and Nick had switched off her life support and it would only be a metter of time before we danced on her grave.
We could not have been more wrong.
Throughout New Labour’s thirteen years in power Nanny State ruled with a rod of iron. We were subjbected to a constant barrage of hectoring and finger wagging that made Maggie Thatcvher look like a rank amateur.
Nanny lectured us ever week about what food we should and should not eat, how much alcohol was safe, how we should raise our kids, where and with whom and how often we should have sex (the Gaybour wing of the Labour movement never managed to make homosexuality compulsory but they were moving that way), how cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco were modern manifestations of Enochian demons (though cannabis was OK so long as those smoking it were ‘right on’ people.
Nanny also lectured us about how we all had a responsibility to live forever without getting sick and how we should all aspire to go to university to earn a degree in leisure centre management with modern dance or something similar.
Many people greeted with relief the election of the Conservatives – Lib Dem coalition especially as they started to make positive noises about rolling back the stupidities of politically correct thinking and the overbearing protectiveness of Nanny State and replacing her with a renewed respect for individual freedom. It sounded great. It sounded too good to be true in fact.
Whenever elections produce a change of government we all assume a new broom will sweep away all the rubbish left behind by the last lot. This is not true of course, the very same people, the desk jockeys, box tickers, paper shufflers and bean counters are still running the country. We just have different faces spouting the bogus statistics cooked up by the bureaucratic empire builders to justify their latest control freak schemes to expand the state. Thus our hopes that Dave and Nick would bludgeon Nanny to death were dashed. Those early promises had been too good to be true. Nanny State cannot die but worse, she has morphed into Supernanny State.
David (Shiny – face) Cameron, his Mini Me Nick Clegg and their pusillanimous cohorts have pulled off the seemingly impossible feat of supplying Nanny State and her evil Politically Correct Thought Police force with an even more freedom-loathing, mind controlling agenda. Cameron calls it nudging and since the Conservative conference last September he had had his nudger out and pointed it and everybody who shows signs of wanting to think for themselves. The Coalition’s desire to nudge the populace towards something called a ‘Big Society’ makes New Labours prissy and prudish pokenosery seem almost libertarian and.
2011 looks like going down in history as The Year of the Nudge, the year of government agencies using Derren Brown-style powers of suggestion to trick ordinary, sane people of Britain into adopting a state-approved lifestyle that includes healthy-eating, bike-riding, never drinking more units of alcohol that the government’s arbitrary and unscientific ‘safe limit’, burning smokers at the stake and rewarding people for grassing up to the Thought Police anybody who looks as if they might be having too much fun. Living the Nanny sanctioned life will guarantee you health care, welfare benefits and a state burial should you ever need them.
Now the next bit gets really scary. The Con – Dem nation government have created a Behavioural Insight Team inside Downing Street. Inspired and advised by
George Orwell’s 1984 Richard Thaler, co-author of the phenomenally successful book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Wealth, Health and Happiness, these faceless suits aim not only to change peoples behaviour but to change the way citizens think (to quote Big Brother Clegg himself).
Earlier in the year according to a report in The Independent, it was decided the Thought Police will use various mental techniques and psychological tricks to alter our behaviour for example, by offering less well-off shoppers health vouchers to encourage them to buy Hellmans
Shite Light Mayonnaise rather than a six Carlsberg Specials, or by changing our local infrastructure to make it harder to drive a car and easier to ride a bike; or by having cashpoint machines ask us: Would you like to make a donation to a charity?
It’s a great pity the remake of The Prisoner shown on television last year was no more than a cesspit of Hollywood cliches; the original would have had far more to say about life in the modern Nanny State.
In the past, the revelation that there was a Behavioural Insight Team at the heart of government would have set alarm bells ringing. It would have brought to mind the worst excesses of the Soviet Union (which treated political dissent as a mental illness to be corrected) or Nazi Germany. The echoes of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four are too obvious. In that novel, OBrien, a member of ‘The Inner Party’ says to the central character, Winston Smith: We create human nature Winston. Men are infinitely malleable.
1984 was written in 1948. No wonder teachers in the Nanny SWtate education system tell children there is no point in reading books written before they were born.
Cameron and Clegg have merely added a bit of Politically Correct spin to Big Brother’s authoritarian view of human minds minds as clay to be moulded into shapes designed by the elite, our New Unhappy Lords as G. K. Chesterton described them.
A document leaked from the Cabinet Office says that because the masses make decisions outside of conscious awareness (Newspeak for. were not capable of thinking things through), the government should aim to become our surrogate willpower, making decisions on our behalf. In short, the authorities should colonise our minds and do our thinking for us.
As the slogan of Big Brother’s regime put it: “Freedom Is Slavery”
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