Where are the “it’s health and safety gone mad”/”we’re living in a nanny state” brigade when you need them?

In their absence, I will step up to the mark and do my best to fill the gap in our media commentary:

<start rant>

What is our country coming to when just about everyone expects the state to sort out everything for them and is happy to use the flimsiest of health and safety excuses to stop behaving sensibly? It’s the nanny state gone mad, that’s what it is.

Millions of people in other countries quite happily clear the snow from outside their own homes and shops at winter time. But in Britain, supposedly the liberal home of the free? Nope, pretty much everyone turns round and expects the state to do it all for them.

The worst of course are the media who slavishly report just about every ungritted pavement and each icy road followed by a moan that the council hasn’t done something.

Never pose the question to anyone else of course asking why they’ve not cleaned stuff away themselves.

Never profile any of the decent people around the country who do clear away snow.

No, it’s just all moans and all expecting that of course the state should do everything for you. Because if a council hasn’t done it, well nobody else can possibly do anything about it ever, can they?

And don’t get me started on those who try to wheel out flimsy arguments about how you might get sued if you cleared the snow or ice away. Notice how they never give any actual examples about it happening? That’s because it’s an excuse used to avoid doing the right thing – not something there’s a real danger of being successfully sued for.

It’s health and safety gone mad, that’s what it is.

So unless you’ve got difficulty moving about yourself, stop blaming the state and start taking a bit of action in your own hands.

</end rant>

There. A promising impression of a tabloid columnist if I say so myself, though clearly got some bits to work on a bit more before I send in the job application.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • I am always amazed at how many people warn me that I might get sued when I am clearing snow from the pavement outside my house…

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Jan '10 - 8:09pm

    And I am always amazed by the impatience and rudeness shown by motorists when I am trying to spread grit on the road outside my house …

  • Andrew McLean 7th Jan '10 - 8:16pm

    According to the BBC you can blame the government for propagating this meme.

  • Andrew Suffield 7th Jan '10 - 8:19pm

    I’m sure you could sue somebody for making false claims about potential lawsuits if you shovel snow. (Probably wouldn’t win, but that’s beside the point)

    Maybe point that out to them next time.

  • Andrew McLean 7th Jan '10 - 8:20pm

    Oops, this is the link http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3453039.stm

    [Why no preview function when posting comments?]

  • I think that the people who try to warn me are trying to be helpful, so threatening to sue them would not be a good way to build up the local community…

  • Notice in a shop window yesterday “Because of the ridiculous weather we are closing early”. Er…three inches of snow in England in Janauary?
    I am of an age, and a part of the country, that I remember people putting snow chains on their tyres when it snowed, but I haven’t heard that distinctive sound for maybe thirty years years or more.

  • Malcolm Todd 8th Jan '10 - 10:06am

    Ah, yes. It’s all the fault of the evil government that we all blame the government for everything. Thanks for clearing that up, Amanda. 🙄

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jan '10 - 11:18am

    The dominant idea in this country since 1979 is that greed and self-interest are good, and society will be best run for everyone if we all think that way.

    So, OF COURSE, in Britain we will get this mentality “why should I do it – what benefit do I get from it?”.

    It seems to me quite obvious that the smashing up of the idea that we do have some sort of moral obligation to help each other, which is all part of the extreme free market movement, is going to lead to this attitude. Therefore, I would quite expect in those countries which have a more collectivist mentality for there to be more things like individual snow-clearing to help the community.

    Now, the extreme free market people will suggest that we should all be mad keen entrepeneurs, so we’ll all be rushing out starting little businesses as snow clearers. Of course, what ACTUALLY happens in their world is that most people are cowed into consumer submissiveness. They wait around hoping for some bug business to come and sell them what they want. Much of what the extreme free market people say is bad about big state applies also to big business. But they can’t see it, either because they are part of the big business aristocracy, or little conformists going along with the dominant ideology of the age.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jan '10 - 11:27am

    Now for an entirely unpolitical but common sense point. Yes, we have lost our snow sense at least where I am in London, because we so rarely get much of it. Quite obviously, in those parts of the world where it can be expected regularly across the winter season, they are more used to it, they have built up conventions and structures for dealing with it.

    I suspect the issue about being sued for clearing snow applies because doing it badly can make the pavements more slippery. That’s when the pavement is left wet, freezes into an ice sheet, and more snow falls on it. Well, in London we just haven’t seen sustained periods of snow and freezing temperatures in many years to get the feeling for how this happens and so to react appropriately.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jan '10 - 11:32am

    Now, back to political points. If we haven’t had serious snow for many years, it’s a once-in-a-decade thing, OF COURSE it doesn’t make sense to spend lots of money on snow-clearing equipment as it does in those countries where they have it every year. That is why a little bit of snow, which in other countries would be a trivial matter, here brings everything to a halt.

    When local authorities have been urged to make cuts and become more efficient, one thing that goes early is contingency spending for rare events. Those responsible for setting the budget will just hope it doesn’t happen on their watch and cut that item because if it doesn’t happen no-one will notice, so it’s a lot less painful than cutting something else where it will be noticed.

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