In the Leaders Debate on Monday night, in a rare moment when John Campbell wasn't speaking, John Key pointed out that the government has been "storming through the front door"; Clark challenged him to come up with examples, as if the very idea of this combination of gargoyle and dominatrix was some sort of urban myth (a line promoted by The Double Standard). The best he could do was to begin a list starting with lightbulbs and ending with showers, and not very much in between.
The reason he was so pissweak?
Simple. Because his own party was co-signatory to the worst example of nannying this decade, the anti-smacking law. Hard to bring that up as an example when you yourself shared responsibility for it.
Because his own party began the anti-tobacco hysteria back in the time of Headmistress Shipley, banning (yes, banning) the magazine 'Cigar Afficianado' because it fell foul of the National Party's line.
Because his own party is going to start DNA testing everyone arrested for an imprisonable offence.
Because his own party wants to confiscate the proceeds of crime from defendants, before their guilt is even proved in a court of law.
Because his own party, especially in the days of Headmistress Shipley, was as big a Nanny as Harridan Helen.
But to call the existence of the Nanny State an urban myth is just breath-taking.
There she is inspecting school lunchboxes.
Telling us not to lie in the sun.
Not to drink more than seven servings.
Not to drive too fast.
Not to drive too often.
Not to smoke at home.
Not to smoke in the car.
Not to smoke in the pub.
Not to smoke at all, really (you getting the message)?
She tells us we may not discipline our children.
We may not let them eat tasty food.
We must pay for hysterical advertising that treats adults like children.
We must not watch advertising that treats us like adults.
We may not drive fast cars in industrial areas at night.
We may not climb tall ladders.
We may not act in ways that Nanny deems "anti-social."
We may not buy vitamins and minerals without a prescription from Nanny.
We may not drink alcohol in public places.
We may not smoke cigarettes at work or in the pub.
We may not smoke marijuana anywhere.
We may not ride a bicycle without a helmet.
We may not walk a poodle without a muzzle.
We may not buy fireworks that go ‘Bang!’
We may not put up bright billboards or sandwich boards around our cities.
We may not cut down trees on our own property.
We may not repair our own property if Nanny says we can't.
We may not plant trees on our own property without Nanny’s approval of the type of tree.
We may not paint our houses in colours of which Nanny disapproves.
We may not build houses at all where Nanny says we can’t.
We may not advertise for young female employees.
We may not open for business on days Nanny specifies.
If we do open for business, we must act as Nanny's unpaid tax collectors.
We may not fire staff who steal from us.
We may not fire staff, whatever their employment contract says.
We must surrender our children to Nanny’s factory schools.
We must pay for teachers that can’t teach and for centres of education that aren’t.
We must believe that Alan Bollard knows what he’s doing.
We must believe that our money is not our own.
We must not call bureaucrats “arseholes.”
We must not offend people paid to boss us around with our money.
We must answer stupid questions when Nanny asks us.
We may not spend our own money in ways of which Nanny disapproves.
We may not defend ourselves against people who try to kill us.
We must pretend that snails are more important than we are.
We must pretend that murderers are people too.
We must apologise to tribalists for things we didn’t do.
We must not offend criminals for things they did do.
We must apologise to conservationists for things we need to do.
We must apologise for success.
We must ignore failure.
We may not build new power stations that actually produce real power.
We must not offend Gaia by driving big cars and enjoying overseas holidays … unless we’re a cabinet minister.
We may not end our own lives when we choose.
We must pay for art we don’t like and TV shows we don’t watch.
We must pay middle class families to become welfare beneficiaries.
We must pay no-hopers to breed.
And Helen Clark says the Nanny State is an urban myth?
Nanny likes to remind us that we're not here to enjoy ourselves. She is the Puritan described by H. L. Mencken, perennially paranoid that somebody, somewhere, somehow might just be managing to have a good time.
She is everywhere, and she is right here front and centre at this election.
Don't let them tell you she's not.
NB: You know, you can download a poster with most of the above list. Perhaps you should send a copy to John Key, so he starts trying to cross a few off.
Click on the pic to enlarge, or here for an A3 PDF file [1MB] -- and tell Nanny to go to hell.