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Goodbye nanny state, hello nudge

The Free Society website has been dormant for a while. My fault entirely. I had intended to appoint a commissioning editor after our series of debates last summer but I got side-tracked.

Anyway, I am currently speaking to potential editors and contributors and I hope that, very soon, we will have a new team of writers and, within a few weeks, the site will feature at least one new post every day.

In the meantime I am pleased to welcome our first new contributor. David Bowden works for the Institute of Ideas. He also writes for Spiked. Writing for The Free Society today, David comments:

How long ago those heady summer months now feel, with Britain emerging from the 13-year nightmare of creeping New Labour authoritarianism, heralded by a fresh-faced Coalition Government promising a new era of freedom. Yet, as we all scrambled around searching for appropriate terms to describe the new politics, it was apparent that another re-branding was well under way. Goodbye New Labour’s nanny state; hello to the Lib-Cons’ nudge.

Full article: Goodbye nanny state, hello nudge

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Reader Comments (9)

Apart from irritation, I have little problem with a 'nudge'. If I don't like it, I wont do it. But the smoking ban isn't a 'nudge', it's compulsion.

If Lansley wants us to believe in his 'nudge' then sensibly amend the ban and I will.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 12:27 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

He He - over at Liberal Vision we share your views on Nudge . Professor Richard Thaler, Chief Justice of the Nudge (aka NUDGE DREDD) is the movements leader. I have heard him speak and he is truly terrifying.

To be frank all that has happened is that a new lexicon has been invented, which they believe (because we are all stupid of course) will disguise what is otherwise the bullying "we know best" attitude that existed with the previous government, Calling it Nudge doesn't change what it is. Raising alcohol prices to stop the young and the stupid from drinking is not Nudging - its prohibition for the poor. Banning "future porn star" t-shirts for 3 year olds isnt nudging its social correction (the government is a better parent than you are). Banning branding on cigarette packets isn't nudging its restricting trade of legimate companies .....i could go on...

As stated above - Nudging is nothing other than complusion of selected groups - or all - to do as the mega state demands.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 13:08 | Unregistered CommenterAngela H

Angela H,
But none of those examples you give are nudges! My understanding of nudge is that it is the state sprinkling carrots everywhere but leaving the stick firmly locked away. 100% carrot and 0% stick. I doubt very much that it would stay that way. I would guess that some would argue that the carrots aren't working and it's time to use the stick, an argument that is harder to make if the carrots weren't sprinkled about in the first place!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 14:52 | Unregistered CommenterFredrik Eich

I would hardly call the everywhere at all times and all inclusive smoking ban a "carrot". The smoking ban, as it currently stands, is clearly a "stick". Nudge, bully state or nanny state, call it what you like - the words still imply the government authoritates over the people and the people are compelled to conform or face extreme penalties of all various sorts, including imprisonment in some instances for what would in previous generations be seen as minor trespasses or even utter God given freedoms and rights, suddenly become major crimes. State authority needs culled back severely if true normality is to ever come back into the picture. And true normality is going to be what is needed if the society cares for innovation, progress and advancement, in the traditional sense of those words, meaning a better instead of a worse future for our children and grandchildren.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 18:44 | Unregistered CommenterPenelope

We can see why the healthists are wingeing from the following sentence in the original DT report:

""They continue: "Effective nudging may require legislation, either to implement healthy nudges (such as displaying fruit at checkouts) or to prevent unhealthy nudges from industry (such as food advertising aimed at children).""

What that sentence really means is: 'First the nudges, then the stick.'

The healthists want to go straight to the big stick.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 20:43 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

We will not be rid of Labours despised nanny state, until the smoking ban is amended. Recent newspaper polls indicate that 58% of those questioned would like to see a choice of indoor areas for adults. Despite this and the public's overwhelming response on the YourFreedom website for change, government is still completely ignoring us.

The Great Repeal bill was a total sham. The outright ban has nothing to do with protecting bar staff and non smoking customers from shs. The pub trade achieves this perfectly well in Germany, without kicking smokers outside like lepers. Forget nudging, until such unnecessary laws are changed, its a dictatorship that we live here and now.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 22:25 | Unregistered Commenterrob

Completely off-topic, so apologies, Simon. But I have to ask - is Anthony W-T still patron of Forest? Only I heard him on the radio yesterday talking about his new book and, when asked by the presenter if he was still smoking his answer was: "Yes, unfortunately. I did give up for a bit last year, but I am very weak. I intend to give us this year." Is this true? And if so, will he be continuing his work with Forest? Indeed, is "unfortunate" and "weak" really the way that we want our own Patron to be referring to the activity of smoking?

Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 1:02 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

I think that you are right, Misty, although I would not go so far as to disqualify A W T. He does a lot of good work. I would rather regard what he said as a slip of the tongue. We can all get caught out in that way. What I would rather have heard was that he said, "Yes! And I'm enjoying very much and, despite my age, I'm perfectly healthy!"

A W T had a very high profile when he became Patron. Perhaps, when he decides to retire, someone with the right profile for today might be approached. How about Joanna Lumley, for example (she still enjoys tobacco, I think). She is a 'national treasure' and is also female!

But only when AWT decides to retire.

Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 3:13 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Nanny has just sent us to see Bully Nudge because we just won't do as we are told.

prepared to be caned everyone. This won't get any better until we have another election and smokers don't vote to be turkeys again.

The threat of losing their seats is the ONLY way to make them listen. Nothing else will work. That is my honest belief.

Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 11:25 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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