I have just watched Blair's Health Speech in Nottingham on Sky. He had the usual heckler interruption which was quite entertaining, but as for the speech, well, I couldn't quite see the point he was trying to make beyond blaming the ills of the National Health Service on all these irresponsible people who dare to fall ill. If it wasn't for them, the whole thing would be running very smoothly indeed, was his implication.
It is self evident that people should try to improve their health, but for their own sake, not for the benefit of a buregoning bureaucracy which is becoming unreformable. Governments operate for the benefit of the people, not the other way around.
Anyway, according to Patricia Hewitt, this is the NHS's best ever year. So what's Blair worried about? In his own little world the NHS is almost perfect, Iraq is a democracy, John Prescott is respected and the snow in the artic is black.
BBC Online reports: People must take more responsibility for their health to relieve pressure on the NHS, Tony Blair is expected to say. In a major speech, the prime minister will warn the service could be crippled by the cost of treating those affected by obesity, alcohol abuse and smoking. But he says government does have a role in encouraging healthier lifestyles.
The PM says he will consider banning advertising of junk food to children to boost public health, but will give the industry a chance to self-regulate. Speaking on the eve of the Nottingham speech, Mr Blair said he has become less worried that bringing in such measures would be portrayed as "nanny state" politics. More HERE.
Of course they are Nanny State measures. And I think we've had quite enough of those courtesy of Nanny Hewitt and her ilk. What the Government can legitimately do is inform and educate, but in the end you either believe people should make their own decisions or you believe those decisions should be taken by the State. Some of what Blair was saying was very sensible, and I'm not pretending otherwise, but I think he's starting from the wrong premise.