The absurdity of many aspects of the U.S. legal system that I track here at Legal Blog Watch has led me to take some small comfort in watching even more absurd developments in the U.K. As an admittedly distant observer, it seems to me that the U.K. slides a little deeper each year into the dreaded "nanny state."
As discussed here, Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader David Cameron even made the "nanny state" an issue in the most recent general election, stating that the government had allowed a "blanket of bureaucracy, suspicion and fear" to descend on the country. He promised that if he was elected, he'd order a review into how the nanny culture could be curbed.
Cameron did prevail in the 2010 election, but it appears that at least some of his Tory Party colleagues did not get the memo about curbing the nanny state. The latest, according to the Financial Times, is a proposal soon to be put forward by a Tory-run local authority that will cut benefits to obese people who refuse to take part in exercise classes.
According to the FT, the Westminster city council will publish a report today including this proposal as part of its effort to deal with the strain that rising levels of obesity place on the health budget. The plan will involve doctors prescribing physical activities at their facilities (swimming pools, yoga, gyms, etc.) that can be tracked and confirmed through the patient's use of smart cards.
Critics such as Professor John Wass of the Royal College of Physicians say that people will only lose weight if they want to lose weight, and that "forcing the public to exercise" may be misguided. Others had more specific questions: "Even if you check in to the pool how will they know if you just sit and have a latte in the cafe instead?" asked one executive.
Legal Blog Watch is posted by Law.com.