People from across Cardiff turned up to the city’s Park Plaza Hotel last night for the latest stop for the Be Reasonable Wales Roadshow.

The meeting was opened by Gareth Edwards, the newly appointed Wales Officer at The Christian Institute – one of the organisations supporting Be Reasonable. After welcoming everyone he handed over to Sally Gobbett, an “ordinary mum” who, in her own words, “needed to do something more public for our society as a whole…to uphold the family as the foundational building block of society, and parents as primarily responsible for the nurture, protection and guiding of their own children.”

Sally spoke of the “massive threat” the Welsh Government’s proposal to outlaw all smacking posed to the welfare of children and families in Wales, pointing out that their media campaign was “largely one-sided and polemical” and “so replete with fallacies that it effectively manipulated the public into unthinkingly accepting its proposal”.

She then spoke of the public’s widespread opposition to the proposal, but said this was “ignored, discredited or excused”, which only drove her to concerted action, inspired by the famous John F Kennedy quote: “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”

Sally spoke of thoroughly scrutinising the Welsh Government’s report and found to her astonishment that their own research “could not provide proof that infrequent, calm, light, physical discipline is harmful to children”! So the Government turned instead to the Children’s Rights agenda for its justification. Sally was convinced that “the primary motive” behind the proposal “was not harm prevention, but a desire to impose an ideology of childhood and the relationship between the State and the family.” Introducing legal force to impose this, she concluded, “belies an unnerving, creeping authoritarianism.”

She acknowledged that proponents of the ban were “well-meaning” but there would be “dangerous unintended consequences” if the legislation were to go ahead. “We will create a situation in which no negative consequence is compatible with a child’s right.”

Sally concluded: “What I find so sad and ironic about this whole proposal is that it seeks to address a punitive, manipulative, unresponsive or authoritarian parenting style with punitive, manipulative, unresponsive and authoritarian legislation….I would urge the Government to rigorously enforce existing law in cases of physical abuse, while respecting, resourcing and empowering parents to lovingly discipline their children in the way they believe is best.”

Nigel Kenny, also from the Christian Institute, then shared some practical points before there was a lively Q&A, during which one supporter said the meeting had been “the best [she] had been at for a long time.”