What I wrote at Lib Dem Voice

January 31, 2006

Let's hear it for Mark Oaten

I can't imagine Mark relished the prospect of stepping foot inside the House of Commons today.

So kudos to him for turning up, and ensuring the Lib Dems, Tories and 27 Labour rebels defeated by one vote the Government's absurd, ham-fisted plans to outlaw criticism, insult, abuse and ridicule of religion, belief or religious practice.

He's not had much to smile about lately; but he can be justly proud of what he helped achieve this evening.


phil said...

Hear hear. And Charles Kennedy too.

Wally Wallet said...

It was more than Tony Blair cared to do - and of course there were many Labour MPs on panic duty trying to salvage the Labour vote in Dunfermline and West Fife, where it is the Labour campaign that has the wheels falling off! ry

Angus J Huck said...

Er, not quite.

The bill is still intact.

What the rebels succeeded in doing was ensure that the crime of inciting religious hatred is a crime of specific intent (which cannot be committed recklessly), and that threatening language or behaviour is part of the actus reus.

This will reduce the risk of prosecution almost to vanishing point, and perhaps more importantly, ameliorate the likely chilling effect on the media.