Cole-Hamilton’s pride as Scotland passes smacking ban

If Alex Cole-Hamilton were to slap me, he would, rightly, face the full force of the law. If he were to slap his 5 year old daughter Darcy (which would never happen), he could do so with the full support of the law, which allows “reasonable chastisement.”

That is an inconsistency that he has been campaigning against for years. Today his work and that of many others was rewarded when the Scottish Parliament voted to give children the same protection from assault in law as adults, becoming the first country in the UK to do so.

I’ve known Alex for almost two decades. In that time I’ve teased him on many occasions, always with justification. But there have been many more times when I have been proud of him and today is one of the biggest. One of the reasons I spent a decade trying to get him elected was that I knew he would be an amazing advocate for Scotland’s children.

He’s been working to change the law on physical punishment of children for a long time. And he had an uphill battle trying to change party policy. In 2013, we lost by just 9 votes. Three years later, the result went the opposite way – and overwhelmingly. The proposer of the amendment in favour of keeping the law as it is changed his mind during the course of the debate, persuaded by the arguments. This move ensured Lib Dem support for the Bill today.

Today’s Bill was originally brought by Green MSP John Finnie but it had cross party support across Holyrood – except from the Conservatives, of course.

Here is Alex’s speech in favour of the Bill.

Physical punishment is not consequence free. It can cast a long shadow, affecting self esteem and mental health long after the childhood years. I am delighted that Scotland’s children of the future will have the same legal protection as I have from assault.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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3 Comments

  • Peter Hayes 3rd Oct '19 - 10:42pm

    There is another form of abuse. When I was older my mother told me about a time that after her shouting at me I said ‘let Daddy smack me’, was obviously less bad than being shouted at! She remembered it years later.

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th Oct '19 - 8:27am

    Well done John Finnie and all who supported him.

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