Australians are still waiting patiently for the government’s promised
review of its new sedition laws. But in the UK, the war on free speech
has hit another snag.
On Tuesday, the House of Lords, by the impressive margin of 270 to 144, rejected the clause in the Blair government’s anti-terrorism legislation that would make it a crime to “glorify” terrorism.
The government maintained that it would try to reinstate the clause
when the bill returns to the House of Commons, but since it only got
through the Commons by one vote last November, its chances for survival
look slim. This is the government’s second defeat on the bill; the plan
to detain suspects for 90 days without charge was thrown out in the
Commons before Christmas.
It’s interesting that a packed and unelected House of Lords shows more
backbone than our elected Senate. The previous day, the Lords had
forced several changes to the government’s plan to bring in identity
cards, which as a result will be delayed and possibly killed.
And in further news on the free speech front, Spain’s supreme court yesterday overturned
the conviction of the leader of the Basque Batasuna party, the
political wing of ETA, for “encouraging terrorism.” His case will now
be reheard by a fresh panel of judges.