Evan and Rowan were very concerned: "The Government still wants the legislation to cover religiously-offensive insults, even though comedians fear this could lead to censorship – even self-imposed censorship – of any jokes ridiculing religion.
Rowan Atkinson, who has led the campaign against the planned law, said ‘I am deeply concerned for all performers and entertainers, because the climate in which we work will be very different if the government gets its way.’
Liberal Democrat human rights spokesman Evan Harris added the new law would create a ‘chilling effect that would stifle free expression’ ".
But it's been a GREAT night for freedom of speech: " The government suffered a shock double defeat tonight over its plans to combat religious hatred.
In a humiliating blow to Mr Blair's authority, MPs voted by 288 to 278, majority 10, to back a key Lords amendment to the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.
In a second vote, MPs voted by 283 votes to 282, a majority of one, to back a second key Lords amendment to the bill. The result was greeted by loud cheers from the Tory benches and cries of "resign!" ".
Serves him right ha ha ha : "Analysis of the division list showed the prime minister voted in the first division but not in the second, which was lost by one vote."
I'm very pleased. And well done Mark Oaten. As Sandra Gidley blogged (very promptly):
The second vote was won by a majority of one so it's a good thing that the Member for Winchester turned up and voted appropriately.