Nanny State

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

The term Nanny State was probably not invented by the minders and supporters of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, but it was certainly developed as part of the Tory lexicon by three of her key Libertarian advisors in the years immediately before she won power. It became the signature slogan of her Prime Ministership.

  • Keith Joseph was Thatcher's main economic advisor and a keen follower of von Hayek and Milton Friedman.
  • Antony Fisher, the Busted battery-farm chicken king of the UK, was probably her primary financial backer, He was also the co-founder of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) which became her main policy think-tank.
  • Ralph Harris, the only real economist among this group, was Fisher's co-founder of the IEA who ran the Institute and a couple of its subsidiaries.

In recognition of their service, Joseph and Fisher received knighthoods from Thatcher, and Harris became a Baron under the title of Lord Harris of High Cross.

Harris and Joseph also developed alternate channels for funding; and one of the most productive was the tobacco industry. The IEA sloughed off the first major tobacco sponsored smoker's rights organisation, known as FOREST. Joseph developed a sponsorship agreement with the tobacco industry which gave Thatcher a substantial income in her retirement. The IEA, created a subsidiary organisation known as the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF) which was actually a copy of the US TASSC (The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition), junk-science/sound-science propaganda organisation, funded and controlled by Philip Morris, that helped set in train the climate-denial movement. The climate link was simply a side-issue to developing their main message of tobacco-denial, This general attack on the quality of health and environmental science was developed by TASSC to disparage scientists working in the field of indoor and exterior air quality and their use of epidemiology to denigrate products likely to produce harm to health. A staff member of the IEA, Roger Bate ran similar operations in the UK.