Nanny state is a term of British origin that conveys a view that a government or its policies are overprotective or interfering unduly with personal choice. The term "nanny state" likens government to the role that a nanny has in child rearing. An early usage of the term comes from Conservative British MP Iain Macleod who referred to "what I like to call the nanny state" in his column "Quoodle" in the December 3, 1965, edition of The Spectator.

Use of termEdit

New ZealandEdit

The term was used by the New Zealand National Party to describe the policies of their political opponents, the Fifth Labour Government, who were in power from 1999 until 2008. The child policies of the National Party's Paula Bennett were later given the 'nanny state' label by a Maori Community Law Service manager.


The city state of Singapore has a reputation as a nanny state, owing to the considerable number of government regulations and restrictions on its citizens' lives. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the architect of the modern Singapore, observed, "If Singapore is a nanny state, then I am proud to have fostered one."

United KingdomEdit

In 2004, King's Fund, an independent think tank, conducted a survey of more than 1,000 people and found that most favoured policies that combatted behaviour such as eating a poor diet and public smoking; this was reported by the BBC as the public favouring a nanny state.

The British Labour Party politician Margaret Hodge has defended policies she acknowledged had been labeled as 'nanny state', saying at a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research on November 26, 2004, that "some may call it the nanny state but I call it a force for good".

European CommissionEdit

The European Commission has been called a 'nanny state' by Martin Callanan for their banning of mercury in barometers as of June 2007. Michael

United StatesEdit

Although the term is undefined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it has entered use in the United States over the past decade by some political commentators. For example, in 2006 Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research think tank used the term to describe conservative policies that protect the income of the rich; conversely, the term is also used in an at-large sense against the perceived legislative tendencies of Liberal political ideology, with examples such as progressive banishment of tobacco smoking and the enactment of mandatory bicycle helmet laws. David Harsanyi used the term to describe food labeling regulations, the legal drinking age and socially conservative government policies. Another example of criticism was the response to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's May 2012 proposal to restrict the sale of soft drinks in venues, restaurants and sidewalk carts to 16 ounces.

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