Wednesday, December 28, 2005



National's "nanny state"

In what seems to be a flashback to Jenny Shipley's Code of Social and Family Responsibility [PDF], National's Simon Power has said that he wants to introduce Blair-style control orders in New Zealand, allowing schools and police to set curfews on "unruly" children and punish parents for failure to control them, all without the bother of having to go to court or needing actual evidence. It's ironic that National, whose supporters regularly decry the idea of a "nanny state" when talking of taxation and social welfare, want to establish one in its most coercive sense in the area of social policy. But this is worse than ironic - it's a bad idea. In the UK, the system of "Anti-Social Behaviour Orders" (ASBOs) has been widely abused, being used to exile people from or confine them to their homes - effectively a criminal punishment - on the basis of gossip, heresay, and sheer unpopularity. They have also been used to enforce social conformity and punish people for "offences" such as sarcasm and wandering round the house in your underwear (whatever happened to "an Englishwoman's house is her castle"?) - not to mention begging and prostitution. Worse, they have increasingly been used against the mentally ill, targetting those who, through no fault of their own, simply cannot "fit in". And they do all this while ignoring the presumption of innocence and the basic standards of criminal justice, through the fiction of being a civil proceeding - despite having a statutory penalty of five year's jail for any breach.

Red Pepper calls ASBOs "institutionalised spite". I'd go beyond that and call them an affront to the British justice system, not to mention the basic standards of decency. This is not a policy we should be emulating, and it is shameful that the National party is even considering it.

6 comments:

Spiteful - didn't National recently run an election campaign appealing to base emotions like greed, spite and division?

This sort of petty bitchiness is exactly the sort of politics of division I have come to expect from the McCully/Brownlee/Key National Party.

As long as they persist in seeing the world with the "us and them" fortress mentality of beseiged Afrikaners they will continue to rot in opposition.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/28/2005 02:59:00 PM

Don't forget Judith Collins. I'm sure she would relish the post of Minister of Shame and Coercion in a National government hell-bent on restoring "traditional family values".

Posted by Anonymous : 12/28/2005 07:35:00 PM

Hmm, Minister of Shame and Coercion. I kind of like the sound of that, although probably not for reasons Ms Collins would be enthusiastic about.

Posted by Psycho Milt : 12/29/2005 04:23:00 AM

Wasn't National one of the most vociferous parties accusing Labour of "social engineering"?

Posted by pohanginapete : 12/29/2005 08:32:00 AM

pohanginapete,

It's one of those irregular verbs:

My govt tries to create a decent society.

Your govt passes laws to try and change what people do.

Their govt engages in social engineering.

See? It's one of those tricky english phrases that changes depending on whether you're speaking in the first, second or third person.

Posted by Icehawk : 12/29/2005 11:02:00 AM

Icehawk: maybe you're right. It'll certainly be an interesting day when National accuses Labour (or v.v.) of trying to create a decent society. ;^)
Happy New Year, everyone. Here's hoping for a more decent society.

Posted by pohanginapete : 1/01/2006 12:55:00 PM