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The Nanny State Made Me: A Story of Britain and How to Save it

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  288 ratings  ·  59 reviews
'He is as funny as Bryson and as wise as Orwell' Observer

It was the spirit of our finest hour, the backbone of our post-war greatness, and it promoted some of the boldest and most brilliant schemes this isle has ever produced: it was the Welfare State, and it made you and I. But now it's under threat, and we need to save it.

In this timely and provocative book, Stuart Macon
Published March 5th 2020 by Ebury Digital
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Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
thanks to netgalley and the publishers for a free copy in return for an open and honest review.

This book looks at the state or welfare state and how it helps and made people (cira 1945-1979) and Maconie with his social history wit and charm navigates us through different parts of what was coined "The Nanny State" and how it has been eroded and chipped away at since the sweeping election of the Torys in 1979. As it looks at the NHS, schools, transport, leisure, social housing and how the labour g
Sid Nuncius
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thought The Nanny State Made Me was excellent. Stuart Maconie is a very good, engaging writer who combines thorough research, intelligence and genuine interest in people with a readable style and just the right leavening of wit and humour to lighten the subject without ever trivialising it.

The book is self-confessedly polemical; Maconie writes passionately about the public services which helped him throughout his life and which so many of us rely on but often take for granted. He uses aspects
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Between the end of the Second World War and the entry of Thatcher into Downing Street, the state generally did what it thought was the best for the very best of reasons. It was progressive, imaginative, adventurous, caring and responsible. The years since then have seen not salvation but a shrinking, the slow sour closing of the English mind and heart, as we turn to worship at the altar of the private sector.

The first book by Stuart Maconie I’ve read and what a delight, though he is preaching to
Ian Mapp
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Stuart Maconies has a distinctive voice and it readily leaps of the page. You can hear the author speak, in the way the sentences are expertly constructed and the cultural references he uses. I am not sure I like it all the time - he can come across as self aggrandising and I'm certainly left with the feeling that he doesn't listen to others points of view at all.

This is a book about the growing up under the protection of the Welfare state - reaching its peak in the 70s before Thatcher dismantle
Rob Thompson
Stuart Maconie looks into the ‘Nanny State’. This is the derogatory term used for public or nationalised services by people with in power. Or, as Maconie says “people who had nannies”. Maconie looks back with rose-tinted glasses to a life led under the glory days of state intervention. However, Maconie becomes too misty-eyed to keep a focus. Topics are wide ranging, and only touched upon. It's also relentlessly negative. Chapter after chapter of invective becomes tiresome. His praise of society ...more
John Buckland
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took a disaster of epic proportions

This review being written as we enter the critical escalation phase of the Coronavirus epidemic in UK. The government has already bungled a couple of vital decisions which have made many suspect that they are more fearful of losing business than losing people. Some early but still faint signs that people are becoming more aware of what a gift the NHS is and e goes of the sentiments expressed by the author beginning to show in social media posts/ blogs. It wi
Sophie Brown
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sophie’s first book of the month was The Nanny State Made Me by Stuart Maconie. The “Nanny State” is a British colloquialism for what many Americans would term “big government” – a government that provides medical care, social housing, libraries, leisure facilities, and other services for its people. It’s a form of government that thrived in Britain in the decades after World War Two, ending during the 80s and the rise of Thatcherism.

In The Nanny State Made Me, Stuart Maconie investigates how th
Derek Bell
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Rather appropriately I finished this on the anniversary of VE Day. A day the country came out of a war with renewed hope and a promise of a brighter future. A future of decent public services for all - education, health, transport and a safety net for the poorest, and one which also valued culture with parks and libraries.

Here we are now where none of these things seem to matter as greed and profit and the free marketeers who always hated it have taken over. Maconie takes us superbly through the
Stephen Goldenberg
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
As Maconie points out, it’s always posh right wing Tories who were brought up by nannies who rail against the nanny state. But for those of us from more humble backgrounds who, as I am, we’re part of the post-war baby boom, we owe a great deal to the nanny state.
I did consider writing this kind of book myself a couple of years ago, tracing the development of the welfare state alongside my own autobiography, as someone who was born just as the NHS was getting underway, but I shelved the idea. I’m
Pam Chantrell
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
I grew up with Thatcher and Maconie in the north east of England and was interested to see what he had to say. A lot of his opinions resonate, or I can at least see where he is coming from. A slow read but only because I wanted to absorb the detail or went back to read bits. Arguably Maconie has picked the research to back himself up but doesn't every writer? I definitely agree that five years ago I would never have expected to see the buffoon which is Boris as PM. A truly unbelievable state of ...more
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a delightful read. The author passionately and cogently describes how the formation of the welfare state, and the 40 post-war years of social democracy, have influenced the path through life of a working class boy from Wigan. Being of a similar vintage to Mr Maconie, and from a similar latitude (albeit t'other side of the Pennines) much of what he describes so eloquently chimes strongly with my experience. His is not a blinkered view of a man with a party line to follow, he does not shy ...more
Jennifer Lynch
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was born a few years after Margaret Thatcher first became Prime Minister so my memories involve funding cuts being made to my school and my mother's worry over the introduction of the poll tax. Thankfully, this book is a reminder of the many wonderful things different governments have done for this country. It feels timely to have this reminder at a point where we need our current Government to step up and puts its people first.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant as always. Particularly poignant now though. It's a celebration of the fantastic way the post war generation created a 'nanny state' that really did look after us all. For the people's good, not the shareholders' profit. And how, since 1979, we've gradually been dismantling it, leaving people vulnerable and with less rich lives. Worth a read as we perhaps begin to rethink what and who are important in our society. And there's a great bit about Thimblemill library! ...more
Mar 26, 2020 rated it liked it
An interesting look at life in Britain under the Welfare State. Stuart raises points about nationalising the internet and his ideas on the BBC as not partisan, which is refreshing. There were parts which read as if all governments since 1990 have been inept in their handling of the state, which I don't believe to be exactly true. The book is written with Stuart's usual wit and repartee and for fans of his, there is plenty to enjoy. ...more
Lisa Johnson
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've loved every Maconie book I've read and this is no exception. Passionate, funny and angry at what's been done to my country, his country, our country. My book of the year so far. ...more
Michelle Best
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
thoroughly enjoyed this book even though at times I was furious! (not at the book but at the actions of some politicians who are supposed to work for the betterment of the country)

The book was well structured, each section focussing on a different aspect of the ‘nanny state’ Each section was a satisfying combination of facts, figures & history alongside witty stories about the author’s experiences growing up.

The wit & humour of the author brought some light to what may have been a very dry topic
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review is also available with many other at my blog:

Stories are important. We saw that in the whole Brexit debacle, a compelling narrative developed over time can move masses. In Britain the narrative has shifted disturbingly towards the destruction of the State, a refusal to accept the principle of community and a shared common good and the elevation of the individual in a competitive, every man for himself culture.

In The Nanny State Made Me Stuart Maco
Ophelia Sings
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I write this on the day Brexit finally 'got done' - also the day, ironically and darkly portentously, coronavirus arrived in the UK. I wasn't feeling too upbeat already as it goes, but finishing this love letter to the welfare state - four decades into the start of its managed decline, and now under a new Tory government which seems determined to finish what it started all those years ago - has just about finished me off.

The Nanny State Made Me (which, actually, it really did) is a timely polemi
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Netgalley for the chance to read this book in return for a fair and honest review.

Have you every complained about paying the TV licence, or supported the idea of nationalising the rail service again? If you have (or even if you haven’t, but you use public services) then this book is for you.

Stuart Maconie looks into the ‘Nanny State’, the derogatory term used for public or nationalised services by people with money, people in power or, as Maconie says “people who had nannies”, “rich
Colin Hayes
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a celebration of the welfare state by Stuart Maconie and how the wonderful benefits that we've all experienced from it have been gradually eroded away year on year. In his introduction he makes the observation "What exactly was so wicked about public libraries, free eye tests and council houses? We may be coming to realise that the people who complain about the nanny state are the people who had nannies."

It's a timely book. Written and published just before the current events of Covid 19
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, arc
Nostalgic and galvanising paean to Britain before it shuts up shop altogether

The Nanny State Made Me covers the trends of British politics from post-war social reform to current day career politicians. As Maconie is quick to point out early on in his polemic, the term ‘the nanny state’ was coined as a dismissal of over-interference by the state on the personal lives of the electorate. Yet he argues that the state’s progressive policies as we recovered from the war challenged the established orde
Mar 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Many thanks to netgalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of this, in exchange for an honest review.

If ever there was a time we were in desperate need of a nanny state, it would be now, in our coronavirus universe.

Yet as journalist Stuart Maconie shows, the nanny state in Britain has for a long time been “mocked and vilified”. He says:

“The ‘nanny state’ has become a glib dismissal for all that is seen to be bad, weak and misguided about once-proud Britain. The term is now the blowhard co
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
I do enjoy reading Stuart Maconie. He knows how to tell a story with pathos and wit and there is a lot of both in this book. I’m a bit older than he is but the working class north (in my case Scotland) and the reliance on the welfare state in its various guises to lift you out of the humdrum is beautifully captured. Whether it’s the nod to libraries or the Tales of the NHS, he takes you with him every step. He laments the end of free higher education, the politicisation of the NHS, the privatisa ...more
Mickey McMichael
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Stuart Maconie is a witty, erudite and engaging fellow and this is a book that combines his skills. There is a lot of memoir, a bit of travelogue, a series of interviews with fascinating and thought-provoking subjects: it all adds up to be a great state of the nation portrait of the UK at the end of 2019. Much of it seems eerily prescient as I read it after enduring the chaos of 2020 which has prompted a lot of comparisons with Britain's WW2 experiences.
The book focuses on what happened in 1945
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you every complained about paying the TV licence, or supported the idea of nationalising the rail service again? If you have (or even if you haven’t, but you use public services) then this book is for you.

Stuart Maconie looks into the ‘Nanny State’, the derogatory term used for public or nationalised services by people with money, people in power or, as Maconie says “people who had nannies”, “rich and privileged figures, mostly men, [who] have no need of the simple things this book celebrat
Lesley Lickley
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As soon as I read the first page of this book I knew I was going to devour it very quickly. It's so relevant to the time that we are living in now.
The Nanny State is a title used by the same people who talk about PC brigades and snowflakes. People who are so rich and, or so well connected that they don't need the Welfare State set up by the Labour government after WW2.
Using his own life as the basis of the book Stuart Maconie explains why people born between 1948 and 1979 had the best healthca
May 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I knew I might enjoy this book - as I have always valued the need for state education, health etc... And feel strongly that essential services and utilities should also be state-run. I am just a little younger than Stuart Maconie but could still relate to his telling of childhood experiences with school and transport, education beyond school etc... I enjoyed the opening section of the book the most, perhaps for this reason.

I would suggest this book to anyone - whether they live in Brita
Grace J Reviewerlady
Well, this is a very different kind of read for me, and it turned out to be far more political than I expected.

Stuart Maconie is slightly younger than I am, so much of what he says rings true and I can't disagree with his memories of how things used to be, although I feel he has rather cherry picked. I really enjoyed his visits across Britain to discover how different areas deal successfully with things in the here and now; however, there were many realities left untouched.

This is definitely boo
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
It does get better as it progresses. I found the introduction a bit too lengthy and a bit of a leacture. However I loved the arguments made, the history of the proper Labour Party and its roots (not new labour blairright) and he is obviously a very proud Northern. However I felt that this biased his view point slightly as well as his view that working class people are always discriminated against. I agree and disagree with this. I’m from the Southwest and we are invisible and neglected by London ...more
Marie (UK)
I received an ARC of this book in return for an honest review. I have read several books by Maconie and this one has engendered similar feelings in me. He writes in an easily understandable way and provides a structure to his writing that generally works well However, he does over egg the pudding in reiteration at times that makes for a read that loses some of it impetus. I am of the same generation as Maconie and from the same neck of the woods. I went to a lot of the local places he describes, ...more
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Stuart Maconie is a TV and radio presenter, journalist, columnist and author.

He is the UK’s best-selling travel writer of non-TV tie-in books and his Pies and Prejudice was one of 2008’s top selling paperbacks. His work has been compared with Bill Bryson, Alan Bennett and John Peel and described by The Times as a 'National Treasure'.

He co-hosts the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC Radio 2 every M

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