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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

It was the spirit of our finest hour, the backbone of our postwar 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 me. But now it's under threat, and we need to save it.

In this timely and provocative audiobook, Stuart Maconie tells Britain’s Welfare State story through his own history of growing up as a northern working class boy. What was so bad about properly funded hospitals, decent working conditions and affordable houses? And what was so wrong about student grants, free eye tests and council houses? And where did it all go so wrong? Stuart looks toward Britain’s future, making an emotional case for believing in more than profit and loss and championing a just, fairer society.

©2020 Stuart Maconie (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"He is as funny as Bryson and as wise as Orwell." (Observer)

What listeners say about The Nanny State Made Me

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Bringing back Memories

Felt a strong need to write a review for this great book - what a touching reminder of my growing up in the "Nanny State". His reminders about how life was - walking to school, riding the top deck of the bus.... just perfect to recall details long forgotten - thanks. I wondered if anyone not born in Britain of a certain age would enjoy it quite so much.

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Stuart Maconie: Made in Britain. Like his nan.

As with a lot of this author's readers I suppose, I began reading him with his smashing book about Northern English culture 'Pies and prejudice'. It remains my favourite with its signature mix of passion and journalistic nuggets unearthed by solid, accurate research. Honesty and warmth and an appetite for life are the hallmarks of Mr. Maconie's personal social perspectives.

This book vies with the aforementioned as his best for me. As social history it's ace and many younger readers should find his personal experience a revelation. So few articulate public figures seem prepared to stand against the avalanche of conformist, self-serving opinion dominating our media culture now.

Maconie knows what he's talking about and is always clear and direct about his objectives and sources. That here he should emphasise the working class perspective is natural since he's personally testifying to that. Each of the different chapters succinctly dealing with the key areas of public wellbeing are illuminated by his experiences yesterday and today. As 'A story of Britain', it's a lively time.

Mind you, I wish he would lay off side-swiping John Betjeman. I think the book would be stronger if he didn't big up his working class roots to the actual detriment of the other classes in his embracing of our national solidarity. There's a bit of chip next to his manbag shoulder strap. And he's proud of it one suspects.

Still, nice chap.

The book's only real weakness is 'The how to save it' (Britain) aspect. Fine that he should remind us that other European democracies demonstrate that welfare state models exist that work, but no serious examination is given as to what way our path back to a re-booted, upgraded version might be travelled. I suppose that's not his area of expertise. Shouldn't have put it in the subtitle then. Bit of a let-down.

This qualm aside, I find I wholeheartedly agree with S. Maconie's latest attempt at setting the record straight about what's gone down since Thatcher twisted and mangled the public perception regarding our national identity. I'd recommend it to any Brit as a good read.

Unfortunately after 40 years of distortion and systematic destruction of the nation's progressive post-war project I fear it's tall order to expect that generations conditioned to believe any alternative to fundamentalist free-market economic dogma is 'Utopianism' (see an earlier reviewer) are going to step-up to meaningfully challenge the new political status quo. We are talking about subjects of institutional wage-slavers after all.

It's the younger lot upon whom the challenge will fall and the whole show is so rotten now that this book tellingly ends on the downbeat note of Brexit and the last election. That its the self-serving porker Boris Johnson (Crown Liar and Twat) who has the honour and privilege to lead us, doesn't bode well for the vast majority of patriot chums and comrades.

It's grim up north, south, east and west.

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A book for our time

reading this in late march and April 2020, when the state is needed more than ever to save us from the twin evils of pandemic and the Tory party has been emotional. A celebration of the collective consciousness over the cult of individualism and identity politics.

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Unbalanced Yet Not Totally Unhinged

A stark and brilliantly brutal dance with nostalgia that'll deliver a blow to Tories everywhere

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It made me too !

Stuart Maconie is an utterly brilliant wordsmith
He nails every subject to the cross ......
A brilliant listen
Thank you Mr M
Am off in search of your other works now
“You poor take courage
You rich take care “
c/o Billy Bragg.........

Loved it
Lou Lloyd


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Utopian nonsense, brilliantly written and presented.

In spite of his naive utopian views on life, by the middle of chapter one I realised that whilst I disagreed with much, there were some very well researched nuggets of history and good arguments put into play.

The author seems to be desperately searching for reverse gear whilst looking at the 50s 60s and 70s in the rear view mirror whilst wearing rose tinted spectacles.

His dangerous lionising of Hugo Chavez’ handing of Venezuela’s oil wealth and comparisons with Norway’s sovereign wealth fund are misguided in the extreme.

As I read and listened during the Covid 19 lockdown I think that he may wish to review his treatment of Boris Johnson dismissing him as a bumbling buffoon, a view that I myself once shamefully held. Although it is hard to get away from the fact that he was twice sacked for dishonesty, however similarly Winston Churchill was a racist alcoholic but it’s not what he is remembered for!

It is remarkably prescient in reminding us of the isolation of the plague village of Eyam and as it happens we now have something near to universal basic income about which the author was most enthusiastic.

I disagree with vast swaths of this work but I think rather than running off to Norway which the author seems to have fallen for he should put himself forward as the next DG of the BBC where I think he would do a fabulous job!

If this sounds like criticism it but I feel that it is constructive. Had the book been badly written and the author not appear to very intelligent and an all round nice chap I would not bothered and I hope that the author takes this in the spirit that it was given.

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His best yet

I'm a bit of a fan boy and this is his best yet.
Superb and poignant

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Excellent

Very relevant, though written before the current crisis. Thought provoking, as all Stuart Maconie’s books are. Highly recommended.

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A statement for our times

As a keen fan of Mr Maconie's work I started off thinking this was going to be a little heavy going given the current crisis. I was looking for entertainment but found inspiration.

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Entertaining and informative

Loved this book! Stuart Maconie has a wonderful way with words and manages to get his message across without ranting or becoming a bore. Some uncomfortable home truths here but delivered with wit and warmth.

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  • Paul F Rugman-Jones
  • 17-10-20

A moral reminder/lesson for all

It's hard to listen to Stuart Maconie's words about simple things like public libraries and swimming pools and not feel just a little bit ashamed of 2020 Britain. Enthralling and heart felt. Absolutely loved it!