Nudge works

Yesterday after PMQs, I had a text from a VERY non-political friend who said she thought that David Cameron’s description of Raoul Moat as a ‘callous murderer’ was outrageous and went far too far for a Prime Minister.

Today, the Facebook page which caused so much of more of the outrage has been taken down – not by Facebook but by the creator of it.

I was in Starbucks today and saw a woman – I would have said pretty well-off, she was buying sandwiches and coffee and lollies for her children – put a lolly in her handbag, pass one to each of her children and say to the barista that ‘Oh I have two lollies as well.’ Well no she didn’t, she had taken three. The person in front of me in the queue pointed out that she had also taken one and put it away, and the woman laughed off how ditzy she had been.

How many of us would have thought, it’s only 40p, Starbucks make plenty of money, they factor that in? But that’s not the point. The point is that it is not acceptable to steal, and part of how shoplifters can be stopped is if those who see them step in.

It is important that people speak up when they feel something is wrong. It is also important that people feel able to speak up when they feel something is wrong.

I think my friend was wrong when she said the Prime Minister shouldn’t have got  involved in the saga of this Facebook page. I think it’s absolutely right that our politicians lead from the front, do the right thing, and encourage the rest of us as well.

There are plenty of things politicians get wrong but on this, David Cameron is  right: societal pressure – from all sorts of different directions – is what will change society. Simply passing more laws isn’t the answer, and always expecting someone else to do it isn’t either. We all have to be prepared to think about what kind of society we want to live in, and be prepared on top of that to be part of making it happen.

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6 Responses to Nudge works

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tory Reform Group and Nick D, Platform 10. Platform 10 said: New blogpost: Nudging works – but needs us all to make choices about how we behave [...]

  2. I hadn’t initially seen David Cameron’s comment as an example of ‘nudge’, but I think you are right. It is true that the more we have a cultural milieu dominated by the voices of relativity and moral unconcern, then the occasional high profile comment to say something is wrong might encourage the rest of us in the wilting middle classes to speak up as well. I had a similar experience to your Starbucks one the other day on the train. As yet another ill-favoured youth with social awareness problems played the tinny music from his phone at full volume, I resigned myself to merely waiting for him to get off the train, whilst getting mentally steamed up. However, another commuter, as equally fed up as the rest of us but more determined, approached said youth and engaged him in a conversation along the lines of “Why are you imposing your music on us?” With that, my courage returned and I joined in, giving moral and physical support to my commuting colleague. I can’t say we made a huge difference – the youth’s debating responses left much to be desired, focusing largely around a limited few phrases connected with the age old art of sexual intercourse in varied forms – but it was with something of the relief of a wanderer through a ravaged landscape who suddenly comes across a piece of unspoilt and glorious architecture that I eventually left the train. Perhaps nudging is our way back to civilised behaviour after all!

  3. Ed says:

    If more people had listened to David Appletree of the Jewish Internet Defence Force ( on Facebook’s toleration of Islamofascist/antisemitic pages and their heavy-handed approach to Jewish ones, they might have realised that Facebook is not quite, dare I say it, kosher, and been prepared to react more quickly to their stance on Raoul Moat.

  4. NOTE ON COMMENTS: I’ve been deliberating about whether to approve the above comment from Ed. I think he is seeing conspiracies where there are none, and I am not comfortable with his implication about the motivation of Facebook.

    However, we’re a broad church and if he wants to believe in prejudice that is up to him. But – it’s also up to us all to ensure that we live in a world where people can express themselves, and where legitimate protest is not stifled by ideas being dismissed out of hand.

  5. kinglear says:

    More importantly, a leading politician has ( presumably) actually said what he thinks rather than what he thinks the populace want to hear.
    That’s one reason Boris is popular – he doesn’t always look over his shoulder, which is absolutely correct if you are a leader. Believing you ARE that leader is half the battle of getting things done and getting people to follow you.

  6. [...] women are the types of people who should be setting an example. I’ve written about this before – those of us who know better have a duty to demonstrate the right way to behave. Last night [...]

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