Cheap ale and lots of lotto. Tory patricians have long thought that's all that's needed to keep the "common folk" happy. But why does New Labour have the same vision of the good society?

In the 1990s, the Blairites adopted the ideology of the libertarian right. The nanny state should get out of the way of individuals having fun.

So New Labour championed cheap booze and radically relaxed the laws governing licensing hours, gambling and borrowing. If that meant individuals drank their livers to destruction, caroused city centres into chaos every weekend, bet all their money away and got themselves up to their eyeballs in debt, so be it. In Cool Britannia, personal choice was all.

This is what the working classes strove for all those decades? Every fold of the people's flag dyed red - with Australian plonk? I must have missed the picket lines outside the bookies demanding fixed odd betting terminals. "Paddy Power to the people." What was that they were chanting on the protest marches? "Housey-housey-housey! Now, now, now!"

Of course, the huge profits reaped by the drinks, betting and loans industries proved Labour's friendliness to "enterprise". And who could forget Labour's great plan to regenerate the UK economy? Mega-casinos everywhere. Blackpool lined up to rival Las Vegas.

That didn't come off but perhaps nothing illustrates Labour's moral decline more vividly than the way it unleashed the rest of the gambling industry on the poorest and most vulnerable.

Maybe the trouble with Labour is that it's now led by people who can afford nannies. Perhaps they've unconsciously internalised the perspectives of their neighbours. After all, in the One Nation, Labour can't afford to be out of step with either the Colonel Blimps in the shires or the plutocracy in London.

"No to the Nanny State!" We've heard the cry since sending children up chimneys was outlawed. New Labour grandees should recall we even heard it from large swathes of the medical profession when the NHS was proposed.

Speed limits and compulsory seat belts? Bah, nanny state. No smoking in public places? Bah, nanny state. Health and safety regulations? Bah, nanny state.

We heard it again the other week in the House of Commons when standardised cigarette packaging was discussed. Thank goodness we'll soon have this in Scotland while the Tories in England prevaricate by referring the matter to yet another commission

I can't remember when I first heard the term 'nanny state'. But I don't think my immediate reaction was negative.

Where I grew up, there were no nannies - but plenty of Nanas. I probably got the terms mixed up. Nanas - or grannies if you prefer - are caring, helpful, experienced, wise and practical. Just think what a Nana state would be like.

We'd have responsible pricing of tobacco and alcohol for a start. It's ridiculous that cigarettes today cost less in real terms than the 1960s. The proceeds of a hefty tax increase could go straight into the coffers of the NHS.

Alcohol today is over 40% cheaper than it was in 1980. It's now possible for around £4 to exceed the maximum weekly recommended intake. Liver disease, especially among young adults, is becoming a national crisis.

The Scottish Government's proposed minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol mostly affects retail sales of the cheap white ciders and spirits favoured by problem drinkers.

It is estimated minimum pricing will result in 300 fewer deaths annually and, over the next 10 years, reduce hospital admissions by 6,5000 and save £950 million. Crime would probably fall by around 3,500 offences per year.

It's also time to tackle the related binge-drinking culture. According to Lord Hattersley, extending drinking hours was "New Labour at its silliest."

He wondered why Labour "expected anything except a rise in alcohol-related crime and nights of misery for honest citizens who lived near pubs, clubs and wine bars."

No-one want to go back to calling time at 10pm but we need at least to do enough to address what Hattersley calls the "undeniably disastrous" impact of Labour's licensing laws.

Sadly, New Labour is too much under the influence of the nanny-employing Londonocracy to understand that most people want the state to intervene to improve health and well-being.

It paid no attention to a 2004 survey by the King's Fund, an independent think-tank. This found that three-quarters of respondents wanted governments to act to prevent people leading unhealthy lifestyles

Among its findings, 72% wanted laws to limit salt, fat and sugar in foods; 73% wanted a stop on advertising junk foods to children and 72% wanted food labels informing them of nutritional values.

The poll confirms what most of us think. We want the state to take our side and, when necessary, to stop us smoking, drinking and eating ourselves into an early grave and losing all our money to the bookies,

Just like a good Nana would do.