Opponents of the Government’s Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, which faces its final Commons hurdle today, say the proposed legislation undermines freedom of expression.
The Bill has united groups ranging from evangelical Christians to humanists, and from Muslim leaders to secularists. Politicians from all parties, including rebel Labour backbenchers, are also expected to fight to preserve amendments to the bill made by peers in the House of Lords.
Government ministers have tabled amendments deleting the changes. The result is expected to be close, with a handful of waverers still able to influence the vote either way.
It’s classic New Labour autistic government in action. The bill was meant as a way of trying to stop Muslims voting against Labour, which conspicuously failed. It’s opposed by Muslims making up part of what’s possibly the strangest coalition ever seen in British politics, stretching by way of Mr Bean from the National Secular Society to Ian Paisley. It’s mauled by the Lords…but no, they just keep on coming, like a deranged child trying to hammer a sausage into a concrete floor with its forehead while humming at the top of its voice. Anyway, here’s Rowan Atkinson:
'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,' Atkinson said. 'If the wording of the revised bill is read carefully, it can be seen that the new freedoms the government provides with one hand it deftly removes with the other.'
Alright, I know this is going to sound way studenty, but if this bill goes through, how about a 24 hour culture strike? This affects pretty much everybody whose writings or utterances reach the public and also the organizations which produce and market said writings and utterances. So in return: no gigs; no telly; no books published; no cinema; no theatre; no gallery openings; no radio; no comedy; no news; no music – and, for that matter, since many religious groups seem to be acting sensibly on this: no sermons. For 24 hours, let’s have a nice respectful silence of the kind the government seems to like so much.
Oh yeah, and no blog posts.
Like I say, this all sounds a bit stuydenty. But there are surely enough people affected by this and hostile to it to get something like that going...