Time for a national debate about Scotland’s nanny state
Monday, June 25, 2018 at 9:08
Simon Clark

I shall be in Edinburgh this week for the launch of a new Forest report.

'The McNanny State' by former MSP Brian Monteith features a foreword by journalist and novelist Allan Massie.

To mark the publication of the report Forest is hosting a private dinner at a celebrated Edinburgh venue. Guests include journalists and politicians.

The theme of the roundtable event is 'The nanny state we're in'. According to Monteith:

"Scotland has become a puritan's playground and it is going to get a lot worse before enough people wake up and decide to do something about it."

Special guest for the evening is journalist and novelist Allan Massie who has written the foreword to 'The McNanny State'.

According to Massie:

“Ever since the Scottish Parliament came into being in 1999, the politicians have chipped away at the liberties of the people.

"The Scottish state today treats adults as people incapable of managing their own lives and, if they are parents, as people who cannot be trusted with the unfettered care of their children."

Both the report and the dinner are perfectly timed. The Scottish Government's updated tobacco control plan, announced last week, is another blow for those who want less not more state interference in their daily lives.

Proposals to ban smoking in social housing and restrict the number of shops that can sell tobacco represent further attacks on consumers and convenience stores that are already over-regulated.

There will be a range of views and organisations around the dinner table so we don't expect our views to go unchallenged.

The aim is to launch a national debate on the role of government in people's lives and examine the way the issue is being addressed in political and media circles.

The goal is to put lifestyle choices back into the hands of consumers, not politicians and taxpayer-funded pressure groups like ASH Scotland.

Unfortunately we seem to be fighting a lone battle in Scotland. Perhaps the publication of 'The McNanny State' will mark a small but long overdue turning point.

Update: In the Sunday Times Scotland yesterday columnist Gillian Bowditch wrote:

An invitation has arrived to a dinner sponsored by the pro-smoking group Forest. It’s my own fault, I suppose. They aren’t to know that I hold a similar view of smoking to that taken by King James VI. “A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless”.

From that unpromising beginning the rest of the article was a fairly thoughtful commentary on the Scottish Government’s plan to extend the smoking ban to people’s homes (social housing), restrict the sale of tobacco and ban smoking altogether in prisons and within 15 metres of hospitals.

She concluded:

Suffice it to say that like a bad horror movie the smoking ban part two is coming soon. It will undoubtedly be good for your health. What it does to your soul is a another question.

The article is behind a paywall but if you have a subscription you can read it here: Scotland's smoking ban II could be bad for your soul.

Meanwhile, in the Scotsman today, Brian Monteith wrote:

We live in a time when our politicians are disconnected from the public on many issues, and their desire to dictate our lifestyle choices, good or bad, is one of the most outrageous examples of this. The Tobacco Control Strategy proposes to take the McNanny State into your home like never before. Is there any elected politician or any party out there that will provide the opposition to it?

See Scotland has become a failing McNanny state.

I think the debate has just started, don’t you?

Article originally appeared on Simon Clark (http://taking-liberties.squarespace.com/).
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