Elderly couple win case against council who tried to stop them going on holiday together | Mail Online
Sunday January 22, 2012 1:07 pm Leave a comment
Unusually, I’m inclined to defend the nanny state on this occasion. Why?
Had Peggy Ross been living at home, and thus fending for herself, I would have been as exercised as the faux outrage of the Mail headline suggests their readers ought to be.
But, on this occasion, the state had genuinely stepped into the breach as a literal “nanny”. The woman was living, at the expense of the state, in a state run nursing home. In which case they had a major “duty of care” and were obliged to make risk assessments on behalf of their resident. They may or may not, on this occasion, have got their assessment wrong. It is understandable that they would be much more risk averse than the normal citizen might be. But they can’t be faulted for their intent…
It’s an interesting contrast to the story, in the same edition of the paper, about Laura Dekker, the 16 year old Dutch girl who’s just become the youngest to sail around the planet single handed.
Her state – the Netherlands – tried a very heavy handed and distinctly authoritarian “nanny state” approach when they tried to prevent her adventure by taking her away from her family and into state care against the will of all parties. Many states give themselves the legal rights to bully their citizens this way, but none are legitimate without informed consent or reputable medical evidence that informed consent is not possible.
Their argument amounts to a paternalistic dictat that below an arbitrary age unsupported by any scientific research, people are incapable of informed consent. That worries me, on this occasion, far more than an over-cautious local council.