Posted by: talkjack | July 6, 2008

Are we witnessing the birth of Bully Britain?

There is a lot of talk about Britain becoming a ‘nanny state’. Recently a friend of mine coined the phrase ‘Bully Britain’ to describe the increasingly intimidating way in which businesses or the authorities treat the public here in the UK.

Does Bully Britain exist? Perhaps it already feels that way for some people. Here’s a scary thought – imagine we are just witnessing the birth of Bully Britain! If so, should the public speak out, or keep safely silent?

My definition of bullying includes ‘the act of intimidating others, especially weaker people’. The authorities and rich businesses in Britain have more power than private individuals, therefore in this sense it seems fair to consider a private individual to be weaker than big business or the authorities; the individual has less influence, and unless that person is especially wealthy they are less able to use the legal system to promote their own rights or interests.

Some examples of current activities in Britain which could make private individuals in the UK feel that they are being intimidated in their everyday lives:

Maybe it dreaming up news ways to tax you for common activities such as driving at 33 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone, carrying your shopping in a bio-degradable plastic bag, or parking outside your own house. ‘So what if you paid your road tax all your life, now you need to pay for a parking permit too.’

Maybe it is the extortionate price of UK petrol, or maybe the threat of road pricing. When the authorities try to price poor people off the roads, do you consider this discrimination or ‘positive action’ to preserve the roads for the rich?

Maybe it is the overwhelming amount of spy cameras watching the public shop or drive? How do you know that one of the anonymous watchers of your daily life is not a disturbed individual? Did you freely give your consent to be filmed every day you leave the house?

Maybe it is draconian DRM on goods you buy, which go beyond copy protection and start interfering with your computer? Click here for some current DRM practices in PC software.

Maybe it is the fuel poverty and tragically low standard of living ‘enjoyed’ by thousands of British pensioners. The price of gas and electricity is now so high in the UK that some people cannot afford to heat their homes in winter. Never mind, think how much profit is being made out of the British people paying for gas and electric – profit for shreholders in foreign owned utility companies.

Maybe it is the music industry actively spying on millions of internet connections looking to intimidate downloaders (click here for an example I found online), or stiff bill payers with fines / damages which are out of proportion with the stolen item. The music industry keeps the wholsesale price of music secret, but online searching indicates it may be in the region of 70c, which is 35p per track. Click here for an example I found online and judge for yourself if the size of the fine is fair.

Maybe it is the attempts to introduce RFID tags into everything you buy, and leave the tags active when you leave the store which potentially allows someone with a scanner to walk past your house and run off an inventory of what you own.  Sounds ridiculous? Click here for an example.

Maybe it is the growning legion of ‘dustbin spies’ hired by the authorities to covertly watch the public put out their rubbish. Might they make individuals feel intimidated?

I try to add one decent sized article to the Talkjack blog site every week, usually at the weekend. When I evaluated my friend’s phrase ‘Bully Britain’ I realised that many of the items I have been writing actually endorse his view.

Please feel free to have a read around the Talkjack blog. Read about some of the things businesses and the authorities do. Then decide for yourself if you think Britian is a nanny state or a bully state.

(c) Copyright Talkjack 2009



  1. I think you stole the photo you uswe on your blog. I have seen it somewhere else, you are a theif!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Actually I cropped that photo myself. Truth is, Jason, that the subject of the photo is in the room with me right now. He’s a quiet fellow, who mostly likes to be alone, but sometimes he is very friendly and affectionate. Occasionally he likes to sit and watch me type for a while. He is a rescue animal who came into my life through the RSPCA.

    I would not normally respond to name calling, but I figured it gives me an excuse to encourage people to visit their local pet rescue centre and adopt a needy animal. Go on, check them out!

    And if you really have seen my photo on someone elses website, please tell them that I am happy for them to repoduce my photo if they would be kind enough to acknowledge its source.

    … Talkjack

  3. This is a great site but we are heading towards a totalitarian system of government. Titles such as nanny state are titles to put us off the scent. The government are not trying to look after us, they want to totally control us.

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