If I could just be entirely irrelevant for a lengthy moment, I think we should watch out that this sort of (perfectly fair) criticism of the very silly New Labour centralizing regime of targets and Health and Safety (“an approach to government [which] reached its zenith under Lenin’s Gosplan” - Simon Jenkins, Thatcher & Sons
, p. 279) doesn't slide into a bloated, reactionary “Down with the Welfare State!"/“Flog the scrounging poor!” attitude (not that I’m saying Stevie dearest was sliding in this particular direction, or indeed in any particular direction).
If you’d kindly refrain from tracking me down and punching me hard in the face for starting to talk like Zizek, I think the Health-and-Safety-culture stuff is, in a way, typical of a growing trend in modern life, a good example of which is consumption-without-consumption: decaffeinated coffee, alcohol-free beer, fat-free snacks - having things without really having them, if you follow my meaning, which you probably don’t.
Join a teenage sub-culture, like the Goths, etc., and you can be different while still belonging to your own little tribe: nonconformity-without-nonconformity. Getting slightly more political, we have modern popular culture: merchandise-flogging satirists, painstakingly coiffured rock-musicians and inane pseudo-subversives like Wanksy - a sort of rebellion-without-rebellion. Then there’s explicit political debate, which picks at little, superficial things (Is this minister going to get moved about in a reshuffle? Is that MP shagging his neighbour’s dog?), while rarely questioning fundamental principles or indeed anything particularly important: politics-without-politics. How about Sarah Palin over in America? A powerful woman-without-feminism.
And so (finally) isn’t the Health-and-Safety-culture of New Labour a sort of Health and Safety-without-health and safety? The government piles in on a load of trivial things - seat-belts, cigarettes, mobile phones in cars, as Stevie was saying - and looks like it’s naively obsessed with our safety, and yet in many really rather major ways actively undermines ‘health and safety’. Attacking welfare for the poor, for one thing (at the moment, topically enough, refusing to go near the energy companies’ great big profits to help people with their fuel bills), and instead giving away the hard-earned tax-payers’ cash in enormous subsidies to business (see PFIs passim, for starters). Never mind (not to sound too much like Harold Pinter on a bad day) sending the country’s young men and women off to die in the Middle East for no discernibly good reason (Who can forget all those scandals about faulty/missing equipment? Where was ‘Health and Safety’ then?), and thus clearly worsening the whole terrorism thing we started off with.
Anyway, that's enough of that. Nanny State not the same as Welfare State; turn on, tune in, drop out; smash the system: you get the idea. And if you don't agree with me, it's your fault for not reading Hegel properly.