A poll commissioned by the Labour party has revealed that the British public has a mixed attitude to Government. While we demand better public and cheaper services but less Government intervention in our lives.
Is it unreasonable to try to obtain more for less a.k.a. better value for money when our taxes are involved? After all The current Government are dealing with the debt crisis by telling us to tighten our belts and shop around for better value. So are the senior civil servants who received the poll results right to be miffed at our ingratitude? And are we right in thinking that of all European nations we are the most hassled by our government.
Having worked in several European countries I do feel that though most, principally Germany, France, Sweden and Holland have extensive social welfare programmes, the way these are run is less heavy handed and intrusive.
Can it be that the Dutch, Germans, French, Swedes and other only need telling once that smoking is bad for them, that binge drinking is not big and its not clever and that taking drugs is just self destructive. Can it really be that only the British are not capable of thinking for themselves and need a bureaucrat supervising every breath.
I think the problem is a throwback to the class system. The lower end of the middle classes were usually not better off than the more affluent working class families (those where the breadwinner was a craftsman or similar) so they adopted an attitude of moral superiority. There wags an idea of “the undeserving poor,” those people so ignorant and irresponsible they had to be saved from their own stupidity.
I suspect in the minds of middle ranking civil servants the idea of the undeserving poor and the need of the self-righteous middle class to wag admonishing fingers at them still exists. It shows itself in the regular appearance of ideas like withholding hospital treatment from drinkers, smokers and overweight people.
Now we can’t really blame either party for the Nanny state, they have both contributed to the huge increase in Government snoopers at the expense of professions like nurses, teachers, bus and train drivers, ambulance crews and police and fire officers.
But the lesson that needs to be learned by Nanny is one I had to teach middle managers many times in my career as a management consultant: if you treat people like children they tend to behave like children.