There’s nothing reasonable about Be Reasonable

Scotland banned smacking yesterday (and because it was National Poetry Day, it blocked fracking too. You’ve got to get your laughs where you can in the current climate).

Smacking bans are a culture war issue, so with crushing inevitability the BBC in England got Brendan O’Neill from Spiked to talk about it – which is probably an example of bias, because after a few seconds of his tired, predictable contrarianism most viewers would start fondly imagining beating a young Brendan with increasingly large implements, like the famous scene in the film Airplane!, and demanding the law doesn’t criminalise them for doing so.

Here in Scotland we’re smarter and don’t just let any old right-wing troll onto the airwaves. So the BBC interviewed Be Reasonable, the anti-ban pressure group.

The anti-ban pressure group that’s, er, a front for evangelical Christians and stuffed with Brendan’s pals.

James Mackenzie, former head of media for Green MSPs, on Twitter:

Disappointing to see the BBC report the views of “Be Reasonable”, the pro-child abuse lobby group, without explaining who they are.

Who are they?

Let’s ask Bella Caledonia.

A group calling itself ‘Be Reasonable Scotland‘ is a key organiser, and of course the campaign has backing from the likes of the Scottish Daily Express…

It gets murkier. As Tom Dissonance reveals: “PR for the pro-smacking children group is being handled by a Tory PR company who took $$$ from Big Tobacco to downplay the risks of tobacco”. [the original article links to a now-deleted tweet]

Not only that but the two named supporters on Be Reasonable’s site are something called The Family Education Trust’ and ‘The Christian Institute’.

The site has been changed since that was written in 2017, and the Family Education Trust – a right-wing Christian charity that’s variously blamed gay people for AIDS, lobbied against equal marriage and tried to stop sex education being useful or helpful – is no longer listed as a supporter. But the Christian Institute is.


While the CI has campaigned on issues including gambling, abortion and euthanasia, it is most notable for its campaigns against homosexuality and gay rights. The CI sought to retain Section 28 and a higher age of consent for homosexuals, and opposed the Civil Partnership Act, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 and legislation allowing gay couples to adopt. It has opposed measures to prevent gay people being discriminated against in the provision of services and goods.

The Glasgow Herald, two years ago:

PRO-SMACKING lobby group Be Reasonable Scotland is funded by a network of the fundamentalist Christians, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

[their spokesperson] did confirm that the campaign in Scotland is being paid for by The Family Education Trust and The Christian Institute. “Yes, yes,” she said. “They are the main supporters behind it.”

…The [Christian Institute] has previously campaigned against gambling, abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality, opposing same sex marriages and seeking to raise the age of consent. The charity once produced an organ-donor style plastic card that read: “In the event of my death, I do not want my children to be adopted by homosexuals”.

Nice people.

It’s not just anti-LGBT+, anti-abortion, pro-smacking Christian fundamentalists, though. Let’s look at that supporters page again.

What do Stuart Waiton, Penny Lewis, Ashley Frawley, Ellie Lee and Simon Knight have in common?

They’re Spiked writers.

This, once again, is my shocked face.

Of course, it’s quite possible that these people became Spiked contributors purely so they could spread the word about their campaign.

Possible, but not true. Some have been contributing to the site for nearly two decades; the baby of the group has been a contributor for seven years.


On almost every single issue from hitting children to trans rights to the climate to Brexit the Koch Brothers-funded Spiked/LM group is active on the hard right position. What an extraordinary coincidence.

And on almost every single issue they end up on the BBC as “balance” despite taking extremist positions on pretty much everything.

To accidentally feature hard-right activists and religious conservatives pretending to be independent commentators once is unfortunate. To do it again and again is either incompetent or malicious.