Peter Hough

Peter Hough
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Thursday, 17 February 2011

I don't want Big Nanny in my life

I'm from a working class background. When I was little, my father was a Nottinghamshire miner, and we lived in a terraced house. But I've never voted Labour in my life, nor ever will. There's a fundamental reason for this. There's something at the core of socialism that is anathema to what I am. At its worst, Labour promotes weakness and dependency, and produces a lethargy amongst communities. There's a reason for this - it wants to be in control.

Orwell got it wrong - under Labour it's the Big Nanny state.

Don't get me wrong. I vehemently believe that the inequalities in society should be addressed, and there should be a level playing field as much as it is possible, and I'm not too proud to admit when I need help. We all need a safety net, when through no fault of our own, life throws things at us that we struggle to cope with.

But I've never wanted Big Nanny in my life. I don't want things organised for me - if  I'm interested enough I'll organise them myself. I don't want to be told how much I should drink, big flashing signs telling me to 'belt up', I don't want to be told I need five a day - I'm not stupid, I know I need a balanced diet of fresh fruit and vegetables to stay healthy.

When my children were little my wife would take turns with other parents organising coffee mornings. The kids would run riot upstairs while the mums would chat in the kitchen, or in summer have a glass of wine in the garden. There was a toddlers' group in the church hall, but this was low key, and didn't cost much to set up. Health visitors would sometimes attend to impart information.

There wasn't the hysteria then about paedophilia, so no expensive CRB checks which only have meaning if someone has been caught and convicted. One of the sensible things The Coalition is doing is to cut down on these checks. Remember when the last government said that even parents taking other children to school had to be CRB checked?

Sefton Council had a crazy policy where councillors had to have several separate checks to cover them for different situations where they might come into contact with children. I fought and won that battle - getting the policy changed to one check, and saving the council-tax payer money.

During the six years I've been a councillor, one of the things that's impressed me is how residents near Victoria Ward's three parks have banded together to form Friends groups. These people have given up their time to pressure officers, councillors and the police to bring about improvements. More than that, they've taken the initiative and got involved in organising park events for local families. They've also done some pruning and bulb planting, and other unpaid work in our parks.

This is more Big Society than Big Nanny, but I'm sorry Dave - you're only putting a gloss on what was already there.

Stay away Big Nanny - we don't need you.

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