Today “The House of Lords science and technology committee said ministers seemed to be mistaken in their use of what is known as the nudge theory.” ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14187802 ) Nudge theory is the idea that changes are made to the social and physical environment without legislation that encourage (or discourage) specific behaviour. One example of this would be for fast food restaurants to have salad rather than chips as the default side order.
The committee made the point that a balance of approaches should be used rather than relying solely on ‘nudging’ people. This seems a blindingly obvious ‘finding’ for anyone who has worked personally or professionally around changing problematic behaviours. Perhaps this is more about where power and influence truly lies rather than personal perspectives on what is a sensible approach.
My point here is there is already a very well balanced set of approaches to something like illicit drug use where the agenda is quite simple. The problems with balanced approaches and the use of legislation become far more complicated when things like minimum prices for alcohol and supermarket food labelling are on the agenda. The challenge with the use of legislation here is that some influential organisations and individuals might lose money; suddenly there is apprehension about moving forward.
It’s great to see all the ‘courageous’ stands by politicians about ‘the press’ in light of the News of the World scandal. But it seems unlikely that the same courage is going to follow through into other areas.