THE class war being waged by the Holyrood elite on the marginalised communities of Scotland continues. It’s not as blatant and obvious as that waged by the Westminster Government through benefit reforms; it’s a more insidious thing disguised as being “progressive” and “enlightened”. The Scottish Government’s decision to back a ban on smacking called for by the Greens represented a U-turn by an administration that had promised not to criminalise parents for smacking their children. Its previous position had been sensible: that Scottish parents were the best arbiters of what was reasonable and what was not to maintain discipline safely and securely in the home.

That the smacking ban is the work of the Scottish Greens renders this proposed legislation even more unpalatable. In the list of pointless institutions that exist in the UK the Greens hover somewhere between the Scotland-Uranus trade association and the campaign to grant tax advantages to dolphins. They exist to give Holyrood a rainbow complexion and make us feel guilty about climate change. The extent to which they are out of touch is highlighted by their aversion to aeroplanes and cars. This ignores the fact that cheap air travel and mass-produced automobiles were two of the most liberating changes in the lives of poor people in the past 50 years or so. It allowed access to distant relatives and friends that had been the exclusive preserve of rich people and royalty.

Meanwhile, if the Scottish Government tells you anything similar then your next move ought to be to seek legal advice as it will probably involve the criminalisation of you or members of your family. There are good reasons why the proposed ban on smacking is not supported by the overwhelming majority of people. It carries the risk of depleting the resources of already hard-pressed social workers in their attempts to deal with real abuse of vulnerable children. If this act of Scottish Government folly were an isolated one it would beggar belief but we have been here before with this Government in its crazy obsession with the ludicrous and unworkable Named Persons Scheme and its Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.

Is Holyrood genuinely unable to differentiate between normal, law-abiding parents gently chastising their children – often over matters relevant to their health and safety – and the actions of violent adults and child abusers? The law as it stands on protecting children from abuse is good and it works. To distort it under pressure from a boutique and inconsequential political party none of whose members has ever been democratically elected to Holyrood is sinister.

Like many other well-meaning and concerned liberals (my God, there is nothing that doesn’t concern us), I’ve been silently and helplessly appalled in supermarket queues watching some wretched and harassed mum hit her children while yelling obscenities at them. We want to intervene and afterwards, in self-loathing introspection, we reproach ourselves for having failed to do so. Rarely do we consider the chaotic circumstances in which many young and rough-looking parents may be forced to operate. They may be single mums left alone to bring up their children by a nameless father. Benefit sanctions by the Department of Work and Pensions, low-waged jobs and the ever-present threat of homelessness or coping with a drug or alcohol-addicted partner form a daily cocktail of jeopardy and despair.

So they may not have read the latest good-parenting guide issued by some Sanhedrin of middle-class behavioural specialists. They may still be trying to work out why the Government’s nice baby boxes include three packets of condoms and a poem. They won’t know what a birthing pool is and may be unfamiliar with the latest Classic FM collection to calm children. They won’t be able to afford a nanny. They’ll have elected to have children instead of a couple of designer cockapoos whose fate is to be taken with 20 other dogs to a park by a company called Paws for Effect or Tails of the Unexpected.

Yet, in the overwhelming majority of cases, their children will be loved and they will come to know the struggles and sacrifices made to keep a home together and why, occasionally, their stressed mums living on the edge felt the need to strike them instead of calming them down with whispered promises and incantations.

Like the Named Persons Bill and the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, the ban on smacking targets mainly poor and disadvantaged people. In the absence of anything since the dawn of devolution that has reduced health inequality and high mortality rates in disadvantaged communities the SNP has opted for the easy option. Instead of creating anything genuinely radical and life-enhancing for the vast majority of Scotland’s poor it has resorted to criminalising them.

Has teacher seen anything unusual in wee Wullie’s behaviour patterns recently? If so, assume the worst and contact the designated Named Person;no parental consent required. Officer, if you’ve observed any young football fans singing songs from Ireland’s history, kettle them, intimidate them, raid them at dawn and lock them up; we can look for the gangsters and the murderers another day.

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. When Scotland gains its independence I hope it will disappear shortly thereafter.