England

England's Creeping Nanny State

How excessive regulation into every aspect of life is ruining the English country lifestyle.

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England, half English.
Melonstone/Dreamstime.com

The English, wrote George Orwell in 1941, are characterized by their hatred of interfering officialdom: "The most hateful of all names in an English ear is Nosey Parker," a British colloquialism referring to "a persistently nosy, prying person" or "busybody"

The English countryside was once particularly self-reliant, a place where people organized events or sorted out disputes without much recourse to state bodies or rules.

No longer. The English countryside today is awash with busybodies and red tape. The organizers of a simple village festival would find themselves occupied with petty form-filling: public liability insurance, risk assessments for the home-made cakes and bouncy castle, criminal records checks for any adult running kids' events.

Nosey parkers are in the ascendance, complaining about their neighbors to the authorities who then rush in with punishment slips and rule-books. The more bucolic aspects of village life are becoming controversial and highly regulated.

Take church bells. Churches whose bells have tolled for over a century are now being slapped with "noise abatement notices" because their bells are judged too loud. A church bell in Hertfordshire which had rung every 15 minutes for 140 years was silenced, after environmental health officers threatened the church with fines (the bell was recently reinstated, after some locals raised the money for a device to allow it to ring more quietly). The chime at a church on the Isle of Wight was canceled after a noise complaint from a single resident.

Even picturesque wildlife has become subject to moaning and state interference. A lady in an Essex village is under threat of a fine and criminal record after complaints about free-roaming peacocks that issued from her farm. The council has issued her with a legal order that requires her to remove the birds by January. At one point the council sent a ranger down to spend a whole day sitting outside her house "monitoring peacock activity." She says birds are basically wild and cannot be caught: "It would be like catching pigeons — they just fly away. I'm worried that the council will send someone to spend 6 weeks trying to catch them, and bill me by the hour."

All this interference means that long-established customs are being upset. In the Forest of Dean, in the West of England, sheep have roamed freely for centuries and are an essential part of the local land management. But they were also under threat of criminalization when some locals complained about sheep droppings and the fact that sheep could be heard "baaing loudly" outside their houses. The council set up an "irresponsible shepherding task group," which recommended that sheep be banned from the village and that a warden be employed to monitor straying sheep and fine their owners, at the cost of £28,000 a year.

It seems that officialdom is targeting the one defining feature of an area, the thing that gives a place its character: the sound of bells or sheep, or the sight of that most beautiful of birds. This was the case in Cooper's Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, which is known for the annual cheese-rolling event in which locals run down a steep hill chasing a roll of (Gloucester) cheese. In 2010 the event was canceled on health and safety grounds, although hundreds defied the ban and the event now continues on an unofficial basis. The authorities keep trying to stop them, with the police one year warning cheese makers that they could be sued if anyone is injured chasing their cheese.

Orwell said that English culture "centers round things which even when they are communal are not official — the pub, the football match, the back garden, the fireside and the "nice cup of tea.'" Now the official world is even poking its nose into the back garden. Councils have ordered people to stop feeding birds in their gardens, to cut their grass or trim their shrubs, even to clean their windows.

How did we get here? English everyday life is now far more regulated than that of the French, that arch-bureaucratic and centralized nation that historically saw England as the beacon of liberty and live-and-let-live. Now it is the French who harbor a relative wariness of state interference and do their best to side-step red-tape and officialdom. It is French village life that now centers around things that are communal but not official.

The main reason for this lies in the crisis of English institutions. With the ceaseless reform of British institutions since the 80s, the state was stripped of its traditional culture, and institutions were reduced to a series of empty shells. Public servants were no longer professionals, with a public mission or institutional identity: they became the representatives of blank, empty officialdom, with no raison d'etre other than to subject social life to their bureaucratic tools.

This change towards a busybody culture might be strongest in England, but is also characteristic of those other countries the French call "Anglo-Saxon": America and Australia. Perversely, it is the historically most liberal countries that have seen state interference march steadily into every domain of life. The French, with their unreformed, unrepentant arch-bureaucracy continue their civic life pretty much as before.

An English resistance to the creeping busybody state may be in the future, though. After fervent protests, the Forest of Dean shepherds have so far managed to hold off the council's plans to ban sheep from villages. The Essex peacocks are being defended with local petitions and demonstrations. And the cheese-rollers seem determined to continue their insane local custom, breaking legs every year in its honor.

Defending the traditional and bizarre activities of the English countryside defends the very principle of civil society. A space for people to do things on their own and take responsibility for their actions, where busybodies and complainers are not welcome. And where the most hateful of all names to our ears is nosey parker.

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  1. Rotherham.

    1. The Pakis were just engaging in their quaint custom of sexually enslaving the local infidel women.

    2. Every time I think of that I want to grab my Kimber. It aint Pakis I would start with.

      1. Yeah! Kill the untermensch, that’ll teach em.

        1. And what of all the soccer hoodlums?!?! Peacock admirers get fined, and the drunken soccer hoodlums still run amuck? Is it like in the USA? Easy to police the pot smokers, but the murderers might shoot back? Easy to bust the peacock admirers, but dangerous to arrest the soccer hoodlums? Post-game rioters, ya know?

        2. Yeah! Kill the untermensch, that’ll teach em.

          British cops and officials that failed to do anything because they were worried about being racist? Because that’s what he was alluding to, not the “Pakis”.

          1. Yeah! Kill the Your Choice of Sub-set, that’ll teach em.

            1. Death is the greatest teacher.

              1. Of course, the student never gets to apply the lesson.

              2. Pour encourager les autres.

              3. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link,

                go? to tech tab for work detail,,,,,,, http://www.foxnews20.com

            2. Suthen’s custom is to kill rapists. You may follow your custom. He will follow his.

              If your custom is to enable rapists, it is possible there will be a clash of customs.

          2. Thank you. That is right WW. That shit would disappear so fast it would make heads spin.

            Some reading comprehension and understanding of human nature would be in order around here.

  2. “This was the case in Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, which is known for the annual cheese-rolling event in which locals run down a steep hill chasing a roll of (Gloucester) cheese. In 2010 the event was canceled on health and safety grounds, although hundreds defied the ban and the event now continues on an unofficial basis.”

    Nice to see that not everyone there is just rolling over and taking it in the ass bum. Blessed are the cheesemakers!

    1. “the police one year warning cheese makers that they could be sued if anyone is injured chasing their cheese”

      The English and their euphemisms.

      1. “The authorities keep trying to stop them, with the police one year warning ……….. cheese makers ………. that they could be sued if anyone is injured chasing their cheese.”

        But… but… But I thought, “Blessed are the cheese makers!!!!!”

        1. It’s a sad, sad day, when passing ruffians can say ”No!” to little old cheese makers!

    2. Oh do pipe down.

  3. The main reason for this lies in the crisis of English institutions. With the ceaseless reform of British institutions since the 80s, the state was stripped of its traditional culture, and institutions were reduced to a series of empty shells. Public servants were no longer professionals, with a public mission or institutional identity: they became the representatives of blank, empty officialdom, with no raison d’etre other than to subject social life to their bureaucratic tools.

    Can we get a clarification here? How did the Thatcher reforms of UK government strip it of its traditional culture? How did Blair’s? By what process did Civil Service go from professionals interested in maintaining English identity to small-minded bureaucratic busybodies?
    And how about the alternative explanation – since 1945, the bureaucracy has been involving itself in every aspect of daily life. After consuming healthcare, education, transportation, industry, then having the latter two somewhat removed from their purview, what was left but everyday transactions?

    1. Yeah. I find it difficult to believe the Thatcher government was responsible for installing an out of control PC driven bureaucracy.

      1. And that public servants were ever thought of as “professionals”.

        1. “Public servants” is a silly term. But I think it is fair to say that the civil service is a profession.

          1. Yes, but not a very good one.

      2. Decade ago, Monty Python was making fun of extraneous ministries.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV2ViNJFZC8

        1. Um, what’s your definition of “a decade”? or di you mean decadeS?

    2. I read a book about 10 years ago, trying to remember the name, anyway, it was written by an English doctor about how all the leftists who were college kids during the 1960s and wanted to change the world took jobs as public officials, academics, and teachers, because it wasn’t cool to make money working for an evil corporation. He linked that to the PC/nannyism we are seeing today, because they have had nobody to oppose them since they took over.

      1. Theodore Dalrymple?

        1. Is he related to Russel?

        2. Why I haven’t I come across this author before now?

          Does anyone know? I need a reason besides my own laziness.

          1. I mention him in comments now and then. I love his old books:

            Wilder shores of Marx is an amazing and prescient work about countries that didn’t abandon Communism in 1989 (Cuba, North Korea, Albania, Vietnam, Romania). Contrast between Vietnam and North Korea is striking – NK is the richer one! But, you can already tell, Vietnam is going towards reforms which they held to, while NK (and Cuba) are on the downswing due to USSR cutting subsidies, and their leadership doubling down.

            Life at the bottom is a series of essays he wrote in late 80s and early-mid 90s, mostly related to his work in a prison and a hospital serving mostly poor population. It describes the toxic cocktail of welfare, un-aspirational culture and nihilism he sees among the (mostly white, English) underclass and how it feeds on itself.

            1. His first name was Micky (Michael?) and he had an Irish-sounding last name. He was an MD and the book isn’t very long but it is dense. I think it was called the “totalitarianism of public health” or something like that. Tried a few google searches but came up with nothing.

              1. The Family and the New Totalitarianism by Michael O’Brien?

                1. Nope-that’s not it. I will look around for it and post back to this thread if I find it. Probably put it in a storage box somewhere.

                2. Its the “Tyrrany of Health-Doctors and the Regulation of Lifestyle” by Michael Fitzpatrick

                  1. And Patrick FitzMichael?

      2. Probably Life at the Bottom. Here’s a link to Amazon’s book page for Dalyrimple (a pen name); he’s written a dozen books:

        goo.gl/yTIggJ

    3. Yeah, it is not the reforms of the bureaucracy that creates this. It is the very nature of the welfare state.

      When you have a government which seeks to provide for all the needs of the people and prevent any bad things from happening to the people you get 2 things…

      1) a Populace that looks to the government to solve all of it’s problems and when they actually manage to do that with one problem the people move on down to a lower level of problem for the officials to solve until they get to the expectations that the government can solve nuisances for them as well.

      2) A bureaucracy dedicated to the idea of trying to build a utopia the only way they know how, by issuing rules to solve the peoples problems. What are the peoples problems? Whatever anyone bothers to complain about. So they end up issuing rules to sate the desires of the most neurotic and sensitive people out there.

      Combine the two and you end up in a totalitarian state that absolutely no on wanted or tried to build and it might not even have any real leaders just lurching on through it’s own inertia until it finally destroys enough of the ever shrinking productive sectors of the economy that the whole thing comes crashing down and Venezuela is the result.

      1. I think you’re much too generous towards both sets of people. What you really get is

        1) People who see that it is more rewarding, in the sense that counts, to influence government to harass your competitors and neighbors and everyone you deal with, than to literally mind your own business. This is most obvious in businesses, but it applies to everybody in society. Neighbor too loud once in a while? Call the cops often enough to get the neighbors in trouble; the cops will soon learn to just give them a visit rather than ignore you or tell you to stop making silly complaints.

        2) Bureaucrats who judge their job (and social) performance by how big their budgets are and how many people they supervise. Because it’s in no one’s interest to admit that a job only needs a part time employee, everyone will find other work for that employee, until he has to start working overtime, at which time they will need a new part time employee whose work will similarly expand to and past full time.

        3) People might not like that the government hands out benefits, they might even think the benefits they get are silly, too generous, etc, but be damned if they will give up theirs when others keep theirs. See (1) and contemplate the true marvel of distributed costs and targeted benefits.

      2. There’s another factor. People who expect the government to make all their decisions never learn to run their own lives. People who grow up incapable of running their own lives never learn the skills to run the government programs that run other people’s lives. About the third such generation the incompetence feedback loop builds to the point where society’s wheels come off.

    4. Most of the worst PC offenders were and are Labour run councils.

  4. The nanny state in England isn’t “creeping”.

    It’s hurtling down the tracks at 90mph.

    1. Shouldn’t that be kph?

      1. There are two types of countries in this world. Those that use the metric system, and those that have been to the moon.

        1. Brits still mostly use English measures informally. Though they are required to use metric for commerce and such.

          1. Stone is a big one. Like, big, like, 25 stone big.

          2. Isn’t this something that’s changing due to Brexit?

            1. I don’t know. I kind of hope so. I like English weights and measures.

              And the metric system is a French Communist plot.

          3. Here’s an intresting little factoid. I don’t know about France, but I suspect it may be the same. Here in Greece where I live, they have the metric system, and have had since at least when I first visited the place several decades ago (60s). But if you buy any threaded plumbing stuff – galvanised iron pipes, taps, valves or whatever, it’s all in inches. So, for instance, most domestic taps and valves have ‘???? ?????’ (misi intsa – half inch) threads on them. Copper pipe, however, seems to be universally metric, including UK.

            To be honest, although I love the quirkiness and traditionalism of the imperial weights and measures, just as I loved Pounds, Shillings and Pence (decimalisation didn’t happen until I was twenty one), metric / decimal is just soooo much easier to work with.

        2. “Using the girly overhand throw of nations that mostly play soccer, one kid threw a bottle at us. It landed forty yards away.” — P.J. O’Rourke on his time in East Jerusalem.

        3. Liberia and Myanmar have been to the moon?

  5. We shall fight in the courts, we shall fight in the agencies, we shall fight in the hearings and in the tribunals, we shall fight in the Privy Council; we shall never surrender!

    1. An actual Churchill quote? Or more Churchillian drift?

    2. + Ward Churchill

  6. The main reason for this lies in the crisis of English institutions. With the ceaseless reform of British institutions since the 80s, the state was stripped of its traditional culture, and institutions were reduced to a series of empty shells. Public servants were no longer professionals, with a public mission or institutional identity: they became the representatives of blank, empty officialdom, with no raison d’etre other than to subject social life to their bureaucratic tools.

    I need more information here. this paragraph is difficult to penetrate. What’s meant by ’empty shells’? Why were professional servants with a public mission better than representatives of ‘blank empty officialdom”. And by blank, empty officialdom, what do we mean by the words ‘blank’ and ’empty’?

    1. If anything the problem seems to be that the public servants have too much of a mission not that they no longer have one. That paragraph makes no sense.

      1. No, it doesn’t.

      2. I took it to mean that because the old guard was pushed out of positions of power and influence by the reforms, the institutions lost the intangible assets that go into making an effective organizations. What you get instead are careerists just using the roles as a stepping stone, institutional politickers who only care about budget and influence, and clock-punchers without effective oversight.

        Basically, they Americanized their bureaucracy.

        1. You’ve certainly given a fair interpretation. Not sure if it’s what the author was meaning to say, but I’ll go ahead and run with this definition because it gives us something to work with.

          So it almost sounds like the diagnosis is that with the institutions ‘gutted’, there was a power vacuum and in popped ISIS (because that’s always what happens when you have a power vacuum anywhere).

          Snark aside… I guess that’s a possible way of looking at it. It seems overly simplistic, especially when compared to pretty much the entirety of the Western Democratic World. It seems that no matter where you go– certainly in Europe and America, that it’s not a lack of professionals with a mission, it’s too many professionals with an aggrandized view of their mission. It seems a stretch to say that had the institution not been “gutted” by reforms that careerists found they could wield yet greater power with no sense of mission.

          In my opinion it’s a result of the rise of the Therapeutic State which was empowered by unprecedented wealth. We CAN do all these things that ultimately get filed under “quality of life” issues, and so we will.

          1. One could probably correlate the rise of the Nanny state with the introduction of the NHS. When the government (aka, your neighbor) was on the hook for your health bill, and consequently on the hook for the consequences of your poor lifestyle choices, the state naturally stepped in and started regulating everything– as I said above– under the guise of ‘quality of life’ or ‘health and safety’.

            1. I agree with this entirely. But I do think that upheavals in the institutions referenced by the author may have accelerated the process.

      3. She must have done that deliberately so people will buy her book. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean either.

      4. They’ve (the bureaucrats) accomplished a lot of their regulatory goals, but surprise, surprise… it isn’t fixing the problems. So what do they do now? More… just more of anything that the leftists throw at them as a possible solution.

        It never occurs to them that the answer is less.

  7. look, do you want the place overrun with crusty jugglers?

    1. +1 the greater good

    2. Yes, if we concentrate them all in one location we can nuke them from orbit.

      1. The problem is you break Crusty Jihgler in half, you got two Crusty Jigglers now. You nuke them, you have billions of radioactive, particle Ceusty Jigglers.

  8. Creeping? I am pretty sure their nanny state is galloping by now.

  9. I think the reason this is occurring in the ostensibly “more free” Anglo-sphere is because of the defining down of “harm”. The more free people you have, the more people are going to rub each other the wrong way. When being subjected to a sound you don’t like gets defined as an actionable harm, then it becomes the duty of the state to adjudicate it.

    It’s like how mean words are now deemed to be on the same level as actual physical assault.

    1. I am stumped by the 140 year old church bell.

      That would annoy the fck out of me, but presumably I knew about it before I bought.

      Seems like the kind of decision that should be made by the local assembly, not some ass hat bureaucrat.

    2. Look, if it gives you owies, it gives you owies. It doesn’t matter if they’re emotional owies or physical owies.

      1. Motherhood in the 21st Century; A cautionary tale, by the Survivors of the Holo-pocalypse.

  10. The beginning of the end was when they claimed flying the English flag was a hate crime.

    1. I date the fall of the English from the time they stopped drinking coffee and started drinking tea…

    2. I date the fall of the English from the time they stopped drinking coffee and started drinking tea…

    3. I love the logic there

      SJWs*: “If you fly the English flag, you are a racist!”
      Englishman: “But, no, I just want to show my patriotism..:”
      SJWs: “Racist! Want patriotism? Union flag is good enough for you! British! British! English is racist!”
      Racists: “Oh, really? Well, let’s up the Cross of St George then!”
      SJWs: “See, I told you only racists do it!”

      *yeah, they weren’t called that then, but it’s the same pile of garbage

  11. It seems that officialdom is targeting the one defining feature of an area, the thing that gives a place its character.

    This happens right here in rural America. Creeping statism has forced closed all but the most intrepid of moonshiners in my area. It has forced me to put the baffles back in the exhaust of my lifted 4×4. Regulations have stopped the long time honored tradition of Busch fueled late night dirt road driving. It’s a sad state of affairs. /no sarc.

  12. See what happens when you confiscate all the longbows?

    1. Haitorei Edit? Here? In England?

      1. Haitorei Edit? Is that where they changed their minds afterwards?

        1. If the fascists at Reason would simply include an Edict button…

          1. Aww geez, Edict, will you stifle yaself hah?

    2. Stop culturally appropriating from the Welsh!

  13. Someone should put out a global freedom index that is calculated simply as bureaucrats per capita.

    1. You mean lawyers?

      Pudding.

      District of Columbia, freest place on earth.

      1. I mean, it would be the inverse of that, obviously.

      2. From AZ to Fargo. This is gonna be a big move for me

  14. When I first visited England in 1977, it seemed overrun with busybody organizations then. My Brit friend’s explanation was that WII had created a huge number of war widows and spinsters and they had nothing to do except get into other people’s business.

  15. How apt that the solution to England’s troubles is Irish Democracy.

  16. I would have thought that “nosy” didn’t come even close to adequately describing the thing.

  17. When a society becomes more and more safe and secure, people still have gripes and worries, but the issues become smaller, trivial. Instead of worrying about starvation, we worry about men near a playground (in the UK) or germs or our food poisoning us. A few people can shut down anything by complaining because there are no real problems to put it in perspective.

    1. They could call it something like the mother in law effect. Or maybe it’s just mine that is like that. ISIS victims should talk to her if they want to know real suffering

  18. Public servants were no longer professionals, with a public mission or institutional identity:

    This is completely idiotic.

    Public ‘servants’ *have been* professionalized since these reforms – they didn’t use to be. Everyone is a professional now. Nurse in the NHS are professionals now, the fucking ‘Elf ‘n’ Safety jobsworth who says you can’t do the traditional cheese roll is a professional, the 10 ‘diversity’ counselors employed by the council are professionals.

    And they all have a ‘public mission’ and they all have an institutional identity – and that’s the problem. They no longer identify with the public they ‘serve’. They’re no longer answerable to the people living in the area. They’re *professionals* and they work ‘for the council’.

    Everyone has to have credentials to do anything and everyone now feels they are experts and you should just do what they say.

    FFS.

  19. Cheese George, CHEESE!

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