Culture History Justice Liberalism Politics Radio Scotland

The Nightmare of ‘Progressive’ Utopian Government


  You can now listen to the segment concerned here….

Yesterday I had a fascinating and revelatory experience on Talk Radio – I was asked on to discuss the Scottish governments proposal to ban smacking with John Finnie, the Green downloadMSP, the proposer of the bill.   What I didn’t realize was that it was a bit of a set up, with the presenter being John Nicholson, the former SNP MP and rising star who was ousted at the last General Election. Given that there is no real difference between the Greens and the new SNP I was not too surprised to find myself being a little bit ambushed However it was an astounding discussion because of what it revealed about the world of the political progressives (of whatever party) who are seeking to make this Brave New World.

On the issue of smacking itself, I am not too bothered. It’s already illegal to hit a child with an implement, or around the head, or to cause bruising. The proposed new law is unenforceable and would make little difference. It would not protect one child at risk from abuse and indeed runs the risk of harming some children by criminalizing their parents.   So what is the purpose of the law?

Virtue Signaling?

I have to admit I got this one wrong.   I had assumed it was such more virtue signaling by the SNP – who were, until six months ago, against the idea of criminalizing parents who gave their child a tap on the hand. Of course they are now dependent on the Greens and this is one political thing they can give them without it costing them anything.     There is a degree to which the virtue signaling charge is true. Already this morning I note that SNP Government minister, Mike Russell, has retweeted a tweet that congratulated the SNP amongst other things for banning smacking.   (Such is the contempt for democracy in today’s Scotland that such niceties as consultations and actual votes in parliament can just be assumed, once the Secretariat of the SNP has spoken!).   The thought seems to be – Won’t it be wonderful – we will be like those wonderful Scandinavian nations who have banned smacking (along with 50 nations) and not of course like the backward 150 other nations.

It wouldn’t be the first time that politicians have engaged in virtue signaling – think of Mrs. May telling Pinknews that the Tories were no longer the Nasty Party because they now wanted to let people change their gender without involving things like medicine, professionals and biology. But in this case I have to admit I was wrong.   This is not primarily about virtue signaling. It is far worse than that. The two Johns let the cat out of the bag.

 Using the Law to Change the Way People Think

This proposed bill is about seeking to change the way that people think by using the law.   download-1John Finnie said as much. It’s not about criminalizing parents. He didn’t want to involve the police or social workers. He just simply wanted to send a signal and give a clear indication of a change in society.  That sent an absolute chill down my spine. Why? It seems harmless and fair enough.

No it’s not. Forget the issue of the proposed change to the law in smacking. In and of itself it is relatively insignificant.   The real issue here is the way that our progressive politicians see the law. The normal understanding of the law is that it is used to deal with criminals and those who break it.   Law is designed to restrain and above all to protect.

Politicians should not seek to make laws in order to influence opinion or change it. They should make laws that are fair and just and if they wish to influence opinion they should make rational and evidence based arguments for it.   But our progressives think that they can change human thinking, culture and hearts simply by making laws. It’s the Sim City god syndrome.   Except instead of it being a relatively innocuous computer game, this is politicians playing games with real people’s lives and acting as if they were God.

When Politicians Play God

They pay lip service to democracy but their ideal state is a Chinese kind of authoritarian capitalism, where the governing classes rule as God for everyone. On this discussion John Nicholson seemed to be suggesting that even if 75% of parents disagreed with the proposed ban, it wouldn’t matter because the law could be used to change people’s minds. Make it the State doctrine and the enforcers (educators, police and state approved media/arts groups) will soon kick in and re-educate the ignorant masses.

A politician or authoritarian political party (as most of them are now becoming) decides that they don’t like a particular attitude or way of thinking. How will they change it? Make a law. To send a signal. And what if the signal doesn’t work? Well, enforce the law, because it is after all the law.   It is an incredibly dangerous and arrogant way for a parliament to behave. It’s an Orwellian concept of society which undermines democracy, rationality, free speech and freedom of thought.    But there is more.

Progressive Politicians live in a fantasy world –

John Nicholson tried that sneering mocking tone which is the modus operandi of the metro-elites who just know that they are above their opponents. ‘They said there would be chaos in the classroom once corporal punishment was banned..and there wasn’t”. When I pointed out that there was actually  a degree of chaos in the classroom – in that in many areas and schools there has been a break down in discipline (although I would not attribute that to the lack of corporal punishment,  to which I am strongly opposed – a fact that seemed to throw them in their stereotypical views) – Mr. Nicholson cited as evidence for his assertion the times when he as an MP went round the schools of his constituency and did not see any signs of indiscipline and chaos.

That is an astonishing statement. Firstly as an MP he is hardly going to be introduced to the unruly classes and pupils. Secondly he was an MP for one of the richest and most middle class constituencies in the country. To extrapolate from his official visits as an MP in one of the richest areas of the country to pontificate about the state of discipline in the whole country is breathtaking arrogance. The number one reason for teachers leaving the job is the lack of discipline. I know of several who have given up in despair. But no, our metro-elites hide behind their charts, tables, strategies, sound bites and wishful thinking and tell us, because their policies are enlightened and progressive then we MUST be progressing….and anyone who says otherwise is a traitor or just doesn’t have the intelligence to see the wonderful emperors new clothes.

This lack of reality was seen in another astounding statement.   When it was argued that children should grow up ‘”free from ANY indication of violence”, I pointed out that this was impossible. Were they going to ban computer games, videos, smart phones?   No, no, no…they said…because no parent would let their child watch such videos or play such games. I was left astounded by that.   What planet were these men living on? In the world I live in (Dundee) it was found last year that over 40% of ten-year old boys had accessed hard-core, sadistic and violent pornography on their phones.  It is the Disneysque view of politics…tell people to be nice and they will!

Equal Protection for Children?

The fantasy and the irrationality was seen further in their sound bites that ‘there should be equal protection for children’, and “children should be treated like adults’. Both those statements are self-evidently wrong.

Firstly children should receive GREATER protection, not equal. They are the most vulnerable in society and it is the job of the law and of government to protect especially the vulnerable. The trouble is when you have law made to send signals and advocate the views of those who have power, then it takes away from that protection.

Secondly because children need greater protection, they should not be treated like adults. We should not assume they have adult capacity, nor should they receive adult punishments (sending a five-year old to jail for example would be ludicrous).  The trouble with too much of today’s society is that far too often we treat children like adults and adults like children.

 Lex Rex or Rex Lex?

All those who value freedom, justice, equality and diversity will be appalled at the 5184eDRfN8L._AC_US218_direction that our progressive politicians are heading. Lex Rex (the law is king) wrote Samuel Rutherford in order to challenge the king who had argued for Rex Lex – the king is the law. Now we have a new version of this. The State (as in the government  and the officials and media it controls) is the law. And we had all better obey.

The concept of law and principles of justice are being swept away in this new ‘progressive’ wave.   I see this is most political parties but sadly most of all in the SNP. It’s a party that despite having many fine people and politicians, seems to have been taken over by this new ‘progressive’ fantasy movement.   We now have an Independence party that believes in dependence. Ordinary working class people must be dependent on the State, and the Scottish State must be dependent on the EU.

41ncnodwApL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_  Larry Seidentop in his marvellous bookInventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism”  argues that it was through Christianity the concept of the modernfreethinking rational individual arose. It appears as though our progressives are seeking to revert to a world in which the individual is disinvented, and just becomes and tool and subject of the all-powerful state. It may just be that losing our religion doesn’t mean just losing our belief in God…it may also mean that we lose our belief in our society and ourselves.  Martin Luther King, inspired by his Christianity had a dream.  What Finnie and Nicholson have  is a nightmare!

Since writing this article I have read two others that I would highly recommend from two of my favourite left-wing writers – firstly Brendan O’Neill writing in The Spectator

 What we have in Scotland — and which we might soon have across the UK, if campaigners get their way — is the imposition of parenting diktats, the use of legal pressure to force every parent in the land to raise their kids in a way that the cultural elite approves of. It is an attack on parental sovereignty and familial privacy. It will make parents feel ashamed and it might even criminalise them. It will pit kids against their mothers. ‘I’m telling the police on you’, they’ll say. And it will further throw open the family home and the family itself to the prying eyes of the police and bureaucrats. It is a disaster.

And then Kevin McKenna in The Herald 

“Perhaps the SNP will issue the number for a helpline where anonymously you can report the next-door neighbours for smacking their poor children. The SNP seems bent on turning Scotland into a fantasy state; a holiday island for middle-class dilettantes where they can indulge their cultural fads and fetishes about how the working classes ought to behave.

They would need a sat-nav to find Shettleston or Possilpark and, if they did, they’d want to build a wall to protect the rest of us from all that smacking, all those unpleasant songs and all that swearing and anti-social behaviour. The SNP Government genuinely does not have a Scooby about the lives of real people.”









  1. Well written article.I loved the last two quotes. The Snp and the Greens are positively Orwellian in their outlook and actions. Blind to their own arrogance. The plus side is of course,that they are rapidly turning themselves into an enemy of the Scottish people. Utopian types never learn.

  2. “Politicians should not seek to make laws in order to influence opinion or change it. They should make laws that are fair and just and if they wish to influence opinion they should make rational and evidence based arguments for it.”

    Its an interesting point. Some of the time, the laws need to be ahead of the curve to influence change and sometimes they are behind the curve being affected by change. Rarely is the balance struck between the two.

    Take the 1965 Race Relations Act. A key pressure for it was the Bristol Bus Strike where the refusal of the Bristol Omnibus Company to employ black or Asian bus crews in the city of Bristol was, legally, allowed. The local labour unions supported this racisim. The local churches even put out a statement: “We seriously regret that what may prove an extended racial conflict arising from this issue has apparently been deliberately created by a small group of West Indians professing to be representative.” It should be noted that this was the only representative group of local West Indians (the key non-white population). But they didnt fit the picture of paternalistic white Christians helping the poor black people so they were criticised (cf USA and Evangelical Christians today).

    It took an Act of Parliament, not popular support, to start down a road to equality that is still not been travelled far enough down yet some 50+ years later. Pretty much every quality law we have had since has been to force change. Which is a pity but after some 1500 years of Christianity, the populace of the UK was struggling to love other human beings as they would themselves. It still doesnt in a lot of places but at least the law provides a level of protection.

    (also, I dont know why you referred to Brendan O’Neill as left wing. He is a libertarian and contrarian. This is a man who said that racisim is no longer a problem in football (did he ask any black player about that?) and that singing about the stereotypical size of a mans penis is a perfectly legitimate thing for football fans to do.)

  3. With so much busyness in Edinburgh about the pressing and weighty public issues facing our troubled generation, such as gender reassignment and parental abuse of children, it occurred to me to start a new campaign. I am a 40 something year old Scotsman but – you know – I want to be entitled to reassign my age to 8 years old, as I believe l identify with the fun and games 8 year olds have, I can be treated like an adult without having all the “adult” stuff to bother about and I can get away with anything as all the adults will look after me. Does anyone else feel the same? I’m sorry this flippant comment isn’t perhaps going to pass the moderator but I really wonder what else there is to change, that is so much air from another planet and so deviously malevolent towards the governance of the country and the wellbeing, spiritually and morally of our fellow citizens.

  4. Nationalistic parties of whatever persuasion by definition begin with myopic small minded dreams and end up, having realised those dreams to be empty and arid, trotting out utopian nonsense. The SNP are obviously bad for Scotland and are embarrassingly unread, stupid and third rate. Nationalism is emotionalism and should generally be avoided. I blame Mel Gibson.

    1. Let us not mistake a string of disrespect for critique. That is surely the hallmark of secularists. The noble sentiments of the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath were contextually Christian. That flame has flickered but never died. The nobility of Christian aspiration for Scottish national survival and constitutional justice remains in principle undiminished.

      Here, for general interest, is an informative audio lecture by Alexander Broadie regarding the influence of John Duns Scotus on our constitutionally seminal Declaration of Independence:

  5. Very interesting article as always David.

    However, politics is a lot like most modern work places where employees have grand ideas and put them across with vague sound bites but never take any responsibility for making it work. The working and taking responsibility part doesn’t interest people. So ultimately I see this policy being a disaster because nobody will have even thought about the mechanics of how it will even work.

    I despair not, I am very confident in the ineptitude of the Scottish Government and particularly the Greens.

  6. Excellent, Mr Robertson – well said!

    One of our bloggers at Catholic Truth emailed to draw my attention to this thread, and he plans to post the link later, so your first class performance on the John Nicholson radio show is spreading!

    God bless.

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