David Cameron’s Big Society Drowns in a Sea of Nappies


David Cameron at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham
Image by University Hospitals Birmingham via Flickr


It appears David Cameron is missing his adviser Steve Hilton, who has departed for the US. Mr Hilton had his faults but would never have sanctioned Mr Cameron’s latest piece of sanctimonious, patronising claptrap.

He has unveiled a new £3.4 million NHS initiative. He denied it was a manifestation of the Nanny State.

So what was it?

Er, well, “Nanny State” about sums it up, as it happens. The NHS is to offer advice and parenting classes to new parents about how to look after their babies. It will provide:

free email alerts and text messages with NHS advice “on everything from teething to tantrums”, Mr Cameron said.

Separate pilot schemes will offer couples with young children free parenting classes and subsidised relationship counselling to help cope with “tiredness” and “mess”.

They’re not free parenting classes, as any real Conservative could tell you. They are going to cost £3.4 million. And meddling and interference from the petty State officials who implement initiatives like this are one of the most stressful things that new parents face.

Critics have apparently said that Mr Cameron’s policies are not “family friendly” – especially that they do not cater for stay-at-home mothers. Mr Cameron’s answer to that was that he is

hugely attracted to the idea of making child care tax allowable.

Which would, of course, provide further support to going-out-to-work mothers at the expense of stay-at-home mothers.


A vast array of websites provide often conflicting advice on parenting, which ministers believe can result in “information overload”.

The answer therefore is clearly to add one more website, to provide yet more information.

The new Information Service for Parents will offer NHS-approved guidance on what food is safe to eat during pregnancy, how to make homes safe for babies and toddlers, and nappy changing.

I’m sure that we will all be immensely reassured that Big Brother Cameron will give us all this approved advice. I look forward to the earnest debates about whether to include disposable nappies in the advice or whether that would conflict with being “the greenest government ever”.

The digital information service, which has been nicknamed “digital baby” in Whitehall, will also send tailored information to parents at different stages during pregnancy and their baby’s early childhood.

Topics covered include “Tots’ bots”, which states: “Find out what you need to know about nappies, including how to choose the best type, how to change a nappy and the accessories you’ll need.”

Tot’s Bots???! Even Pampers would baulk at that one. But the “tailored information” will no doubt help parents raise their kids as compliant little citizens in Big Brother Cameron’s warm and cuddly world.

What about five-a-day? Doesn’t that “hugely important” initiative have a place in this? Never fear:

clicking on a link to the “Get fruity” page will give parents information on how to plan meals with sufficient portions of fruit and vegetables.

Phew. Almost thought they might have missed that opportunity. Hope they remember to point out to parents that babies can’t peel bananas on their own. Without such vital advice from State professionals, all those amateur parents out there just couldn’t be expected to work out such things.

Declared Mr Cameron:

This is not the nanny state; it’s the sensible state. It’s ludicrous that we should expect people to train for hours to drive a car or use a computer, but when it comes to looking after a baby we tell people to just get on with it.

No, it’s the Nanny State, Mr Cameron. And how revealing that you think we “expect” people to “train for hours” to use a computer. I wonder if you have ever used one?

But Mr Cameron was blithely unaware of the loud and bitter laughter ringing from every corner of the country as he sluiced yet more of our hard-earned cash down the toilet.

These are the big, gritty issues

he said.

No, they’re not, you numptie. The biggest, grittiest issues are how to get that Big State that Mr Cameron and his friends love so much, off people’s backs. And then there are those little matters of economic meltdown, unsustainable government borrowing and the crisis in Europe.

When he’s done on those, he could start addressing our failing education system, struggling police forces and out of control immigration.

When he’s done all of that, he could start thinking about trivial, stupid initiatives like this. Correction. If he’s got £3.4 million to spare, he might like to think about giving it back to those long-suffering taxpayers.

David Cameron says he believes that “there is such a thing as society, it’s not not the same as the State”. And Mr Cameron, of course, is an honourable man.

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