Stick that could yet beat Clark

The Dominion Post 24 October 2008

The ironic thing about the so-called anti-smacking law is that it may just cost Helen Clark the election. This, despite the fact that both the major parties seem to be trying to ignore it on the campaign trail. No matter that National also backed the bill when it passed in May 2007 with a healthy majority 113-8. And it appears to be irrelevant that it wasn’t even Labour’s idea, but a bill that was championed by Green MP Sue Bradford. For disillusioned Labour supporters already grumbling about the nanny state, the smacking legislation was a step too far. Helen Clark – childless herself – was suggesting she knew more about raising their kids than they did. It was meddling, pure and simple. Soon after the law was passed, Labour’s support, which had been sitting comfortably at 40 per cent, dropped while National’s grew. Up to 120,000 Labour party faithful may have decamped as a result. ..The National Party, which also supported the bill’s passage, seemed to have escaped untarnished in the fallout. After leader John Key helped to work out a compromise clause with Miss Clark, his party leant its full support to the bill. Mr Key received kudos for a masterly political breakthrough. He has ruled out changing the law if he becomes prime minister unless there is evidence of good parents being prosecuted. But he told the Family First conference last month that he would consider changing the law if the referendum results were strong.