GIVING a talk in Swansea this week about the new proposed smacking ban in Wales I thought it was interesting to consider why the smaller parliaments both here and in Scotland were often ahead of the game when it came to new laws regulating our behaviour.

Part of the answer must lie in the limited remit of both parliaments so that the seemingly little things about life become elevated when bigger decisions are made down south. But more importantly, I suspect, is the newness of these institutions, their lack of grounding in the past and in past political traditions.

Politics has changed across the UK over the last generation and we now find ourselves in an unusual situation where the political parties no longer do what it says on the tin. The politically correct Conservatives are rarely conservative, the second referendum Liberal Democrats are no longer liberal or democratic, while the Labour Party appear to be made up of and appeal more to southern metropolitan sections of society than to have anything to do with the labour movement.

These contradictions are all the sharper in the newer parliaments in the smaller nations of the union, often encapsulated by the relatively unknown leaders of the parties, career politicians with little or no association with bodies of people or organisations – businesses or unions, for example – that once made them what they were. Ruth Davidson, the ex-Tory leader who could have been leader of any of the other parties without changing many of her “beliefs”, is a case in point.

The problem, in terms of things like making smacking illegal, is that these ungrounded, disconnected modern politicians tend to speak with one strangely alien voice – a voice developed in the corridors of power but nowhere else.

Interfering in family life was something past politicians would at least think twice about. The Conservatives had an almost religious belief in the need to defend the family. Liberals tended to defend individuals, including families, from the weight and power of state intervention. While the Labour Party would act as a buffer against those attempting to blame the family for social problems. There was a tradition in Labour, a suspicion of professional busy bodies, grounded in the experience of working-class life and a belief in socialism that challenged the more individualistic outlook of middle class family “experts”.

Today’s politicians have lost connection with the family, the individual and with the working class. With few beliefs of substance, they no longer act as representatives of people in society but rather have become managers of the state. They have become the Super Nannies of the new millennium, leading the way in our brave new world of state intervention.