back to article Brown apologises for 'appalling' treatment of Turing

The Prime Minister has apologised for the "appalling" persecution of World War II code breaker Alan Turing. Gordon Brown's words of contrition came in response to a petition on the No 10 website calling for a posthumous government apology to the wartime hero and computing pioneer. The petition has received thousands of …

COMMENTS

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  1. Andrew Moore

    Let's keep the ball in motion...

    First comes the apology; then comes the posthumous knighthood.

  2. Mike Cardwell

    Cringeworthy

    "So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better."

    Why would you apologise for something you took no part in? It's cringeworthy. I am not responsible for anything any of my ancestors did and wont apologise for it. I would not expect anyone to apologise to me for something they themselves didn't do.

  3. Jon 66
    Thumb Up

    wordle

    http://www.wordle.net/thumb/wrdl/1118913/Gordon_Brown%27s_apology_for_Alan_Turing%27s_persecution

    he used the word 'Years' a lot

  4. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Cringeworthy

    It was a slightly silly and wonky apology, badly expressed (shock), but it was an official gesture - that's what these things are. You can't be literal about it - it's a symbolic act. Of course other things need to be done but at least it's made his family happy, and has drawn a line separating us from a nasty, nasty part of our past, and if you'd like to explain how that is a bad thing (as in actually negative, not just inadequate) then I'm all ears.

  5. Yorkshirepudding
    Pint

    too bloody right

    Shame on the government for allowing such a travesty of justice to a national hero ill

    i can only raise a glass in his honor and +1 for the knighthood for helping to hold back the nazi tide

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and then...

    he can avoid making another Turing out of someone kinky.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good?

    so its good that Turing is recognised for what he achieved, he was just unfortunate to live at a time when being gay was illegal. No doubt in 30 years time a politician will apologise for the Brown Govt allowing the Americans to kidnap and torture British citizens in Guantanamo and other locations around the world even though it was illegal. Funny world.

  8. EdwardP
    Flame

    Nah...

    Stick his face on a note and let just call it quits.

  9. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Poor sod

    Persecuted in life, and used as a political posing pouch in death.

    Those who drove him to suicide had plenty opportunity to apologise at the time. As far as I know they didn't, and so one suspects they weren't sorry. Given such evidence, I don't see how anyone can meaningfully apologise "on their behalf". This act simply cheapens any apology Gordon Brown might ever issue for something that he *is* personally responsible for. Oh, hang on...

  10. Martin 75
    Heart

    GoGo Gordon

    Never let it be said that this government pointlessly encourages and engages in popularist policies with zero impact on the real world.

    Oh Wait.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brown is going to be very busy

    if he's going to apologise for all the bad things other people did in the past.

  12. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Let's keep the ball in motion .... and give IT Right Wicked Spin.

    "First comes the apology; then comes the posthumous knighthood." ... By Andrew Moore Posted Friday 11th September 2009 09:58 GMT ...... and AI Turing Bletchley Park Foundation .... for New Post Modern Colossal Control Systems ...... in CyberIntelAIgent Security Offices.

    What Better HQ for Enigmatic Future Intelligence in Transparent Steganography, would there be?

  13. Ian 11

    Great news.

    Whilst it's easy to imagine this was done for some easy political point scoring, for the first time in many years I'll give Labour the benefit of the doubt on this one. The fact is, nothing stopped previous governments doing the same, but they did not.

    The Labour government is abysmal, but finally after years of failing at everything they've done something right for once.

  14. James Whale

    Pleasantly surprised

    I must admit I didn't hold out much hope of seeing GB take such a bold stance on this, so I'm pleased to be able to commend him for once.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To answer your question...

    >Proud to say sorry for an overdue apology? What does that even mean?

    It means that an election is coming, why else would Brown actually respond positively to a No.10 website petition?

  16. ContentsMayVary
    Jobs Halo

    @Mike Cardwell

    "Why would you apologise for something you took no part in?"

    He was apologising on behalf of the British Government, which WAS responsible for what happened to Alan Turing.

    As for why: There are currently more than 31,000 reasons here:

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/turing/

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    You having reading difficulties?

    >"Proud to say sorry for an overdue apology? What does that even mean? "

    I dunno, what does it mean? You're the one who made it up, it's not anywhere in Brown's statement. Brown apologised for the way Turing was treated, not for the lateness of any apology. The gibberish originated with you, not him. The exact quote is this:

    >"I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him"

    That's what he's sorry for: what happened to him. Then there's this:

    >"I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal"

    That's what he's proud of: that it's not like that any more.

    How are you finding this so hard to understand?

  18. Ally J

    All very nice, but....

    He's had *years* to apologise, as have his predecessors. It's a populist vote-grabber of the very worst sort. Depressingly, this will be trotted out every time his mob want to show they 'listen to people'. (And the other mobs would do the very same, I have no doubt. There's not much to choose from these days.)

    Get on with a chuffing pardon and the belated honours that Turing deserves, and stop the posturing.

  19. Bob Hoskins
    Thumb Up

    Apology 2.0

    When will we get one for Brown?

  20. Paul Kinsler

    Re: Cringeworthy

    Perhaps it's an apology on the behalf of the British State, which most certainly was in existence at the time. After all, he is the Prime Minister, and therefore is an appropriate representative of the State. I guess the Queen could also function as an appropriate apologee.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paraphrased

    "Turning was convicted of "gross indecency" in 1952 after BEASTY PORN WAS FOUND ON HIS HOME COMPUTER and forced to agree to experimental chemical castration in order to avoid prison. He was denied clearance to work on classified work for GCHQ after the conviction. Prevented from exercising his formidable intellect OR TEACH, OR BE A DOCTOR, OR EVEN A CARETAKER, OR HOLD ANY PUBLIC POST WHERE HE MIGHT COME INTO CONTACT WITH VULNERABLE YOUNG ADULTS, Turing fell into depression and committed suicide two years later in 1954, aged just 41."

    If Brown wants to apologise for anything, he should apologise for putting Jacqui Smith in the Home Office. He should have had better judgement, but having made the mistake, he should have recognized that she couldn't tell 'cause' from 'correlation' and fired her.

    I make the joke that Rapists have been found to dunk biscuits therefore dunking biscuits is the cause of rape, but this was the exact same trick used to lock people up for possession of beasty porn.

  22. dunncha
    Thumb Up

    This is a first................

    A Number 10 Petition which has actually achieved something.

    Way to go that man........ or was it only listened to because it didn't criticise the current government!

    Wish they would listen to the Number 1 Petition.

  23. Cliff

    I for one am pleased

    There's no need to get narky about the being proud to say sorry or make questioning digs at politicians individual motivations or sincerity. We asked our chief elected representative to make the apology on behalf of us as a nation, thank heavens we have moved on and the time is now appropriate and possible to do this. It's perfectly reasonable to be proud to be invited to do this and to celebrate the importance of this gesture with some sense of settling past wrongs to peace. Hey, I'm proud that we did this, and I'm sorry as a British citizen and human being that we made that wrong choice all those years ago.

  24. Popperist

    @Sarah Bee - Re:Cringeworthy

    Yes it is a gesture, but what is it symbolic of? What does the symbol mean?

    Does it relate to Alan Turing or is it just patting ourselves on the back?

    What does it say about the other people prosecuted under 'offences against the person' famous (e.g. Oscar Wilde) or unknown and uncampaigned for?

  25. northern monkey
    Thumb Down

    @Mike Cardwell

    So would you expect the German government to never have apologised for their history, on behalf of their ancestors?

    And an aside whilst Labour may be unpopular with some gay people I get so angry when I hear other gays saying they're going to vote Tory - how quickly they forget Section 28 and the way certain members of the current so called "progressive" Tory frontbench voted when it came to the final Commons vote on repealling it!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Took no part in

    The nation took part in it and like it or not, Gordon Brown is currently the mouth of the nation.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Cringeworthy

    So you wouldn't expect the CEO of a company to apologise to you if one their workers killed your family through negligence? The CEO didn't do it, but the organisation that they are responsible for did, but they shouldn't apologise, just the worker?

    There is absolutely nothing cringeworthy about it. The PM is the CEO of the country and it is right that they take on the responsibility for the action of the 'company' that committed such a grossly negligent act.

  28. Mike Cardwell

    Sarah Bee

    It's a bad thing because it perpetuates the myth that we are some how responsible for what our parents did.

  29. IndianaJ
    Thumb Down

    Hmm

    I don't agree with empty apologies. But if that's what the family needs (did they sign the petition?), then good for them. If he had apologised of his own volition though, I think that would have meant more.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Sarah Bee

    Not the original poster but let me have a try.

    My understanding of an apology is that it must be sincere and show remorse for the offending action.

    All we can go on with politicians is context. We don't know them, whenever they speak, we don't know what they said before nor what they said immediately afterwards. So we have to look at context.

    The political cartooning in almost every newspaper sets the context for Gordon Brown's sincerity, e.g., the one where he is weeping over Michael Jackson's coffin but ignoring the nineteen dead soldiers.

    Or having the time to phone regarding Susan Boyle's health but being silent on Lockerbie.

    Or inviting the England cricket team in for tea but silent on England's football team's qualification for the world cup, (noting that Scotland didn't make it)

    There are many other context setting examples, different spaces, different worths, but one might not be too cynical to suggest that this is more about trying to appeal to a distinct group of voters (LGBT) that would be consistent witth the government's attempts to Balkanise politics in the UK, than having anything to do with Turing.

    No one who knows anything about WWII or computer science doubts that Turing was anything other than a top geezer, nor gives a fig that he was a homosexual. Actually, his real problem was that he wasn't a "chap" If he had been a "chap" he could been free to be spying for Russia.

    How was that?

  31. Blitz
    Thumb Up

    Time to Petition the Queen and the BoE

    Hurrah to Brown for the public apology. The redress may mean nothing to the man because sadly he's gone but it means to world to many in ICT as this was a founding father who was so grossly mistreated.

    I'm going to find out if there's a way to petition the Queen and the Bank of England so the Mr Turing may get his posthumous Knighthood and a place on a £££ note.

    Many thanks to all of those from the Register readers whom, along with myself, signed the #10 petition.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He was treated appalingly...

    ... but then so were all "Gays" at that time. He was (currently) the most famous of those treated in such an appaling way.

    An unreserved apology should be given to ALL those treated in such a way.

    I'm just waiting (but not holding my breath) for Gordo to apolgise for the way NuLabour has treated the British public since coming to power.

  33. Garret Cotter

    Re: Cringeworthy

    Thought I would get INB4 "It was my ancestors wot did it!". Oh well.

    This happened very recently. Living relatives of mine may have been involved. We're not talking about gifting indigenous americans blankets full of smallpox - section 28 applied to almost all of us, and homophobia is still rampant in this country. The UK government is my representative as well as yours, and I am pleased that they have apologised for the behaviour of their very-near predecessors.

    One has to be very careful about conflating issues here, but if the present UK government apologised for Bloody Sunday I for one would not sneer "You didn't do it!"

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only toadies apologise for things they didn't do

    He's not apologising to [Turin] for [mistreatment], he's apologising to [Turin Lobby Group] for [Turin lobby group representation of Turins mistreatment].

    There's a subtle distinction there.

    If he then has to go on and commit a contrition to right this wrong, he will not be committing this contrition to [Turin] to fix [Turin mistreatment], he will be committing this contrition to [Turing Lobby Group] to fix [Story as presented by lobby group].

    Perhaps you think the story presented by the lobby group is very close to fact, but I bet you haven't checked it personally, you'll have taken it at face value.

    So to me, his apology can not fix any previous wrong, because Turin is dead and Brown was not PM then, but does show Brown is easily swayed by lobby groups with sob stories. So I'd expect all future lobbyists to recognize his weak point to sob stories and frame their lobbying in that way.

    (snip) Perhaps I can sum it up in one sentence:

    Only toadies apologise for things they didn't do.

  35. Paul Hates Handles

    How long...

    ...until Brown apologises for things the current government have done?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I have a feeling

    Brown has infinitely more to apologise for than Turing's treatment by the special services. Besides, I for years have been convinced that a public inquiry should have been held and deeper questions asked for I have never believed Turing killed himself. Nor did anyone who knew him at the time.

    Fifty seven years after his death, a creature like Brown should apologise to a man like Turing? Its a disgrace. Like everything else his name is associated with. Its a meaningless stunt to appease the tiny minority who have even actually even heard of Turing. Its weird and pathetic and butters no parsnips with me.

  37. Simon Booth

    Knighthood petition?

    I, like many of you, signed the petition

    They make peers of the realm out of War-mongers, Politicians and Bureaucrats

    Can we have another petition for someone who actually deserves it for a change?

  38. Graham Marsden
    FAIL

    Gordon Brown's words of contrition...

    ...came in response to a petition on the No 10 website

    Of course they did! But what about all those *other* petitions that have just been ignored or fobbed off with some meaningless BS or dismissed with "it's not us you should be talking to about this" or...?

    I'm reminded of the BBC TV comedy show called "If I Ruled the World" hosted by Clive Anderson that they ran some years back. The final round was called "Desperate Vote Grabbing"...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    EVEN A CARETAKER AC11th September 2009 10:39 GMT

    Yup, to, like, prevent a repeat of the Caretaker Ian Huntley murder, remember?

    I know if yer kid gets murdered you can always have another one, or adopt, but lotsa people get awful upset, especially if the murderer has a history of sexual offenses against children and no one thought to ask or pass on.

  40. Blue eyed boy
    Thumb Down

    And there are those...

    ...who would say that (a) he deserved everything he got because what he did was against the law as it stood at the time, and (b) it should still be against the law. Where isd the petition for that?

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Dunncha

    I doubt very much that it had anything to do with the Number 10 petition. We all know that is only there to make gullible troublemakers think they are making their voice heard whilst also allowing the government to claim that the numbers are actually so low (31000 may be a large number for these petitions but it is a very small proportion of the [internet facing] electorate) that the majority disagree with the statement in question.

    rather it is as a reaction to the popular press, which we do know has the power to influence election results.

  42. david 63

    Different times, different sensibilities

    First let me say that I think Turing was a genius and probably had a lot more to give BUT

    He broke the law that was in force at the time was tried, convicted and that was a contributory factor in his suicide.

    Do we expect an apology to every homosexual that was imprisoned ever? How about a word for Oscar Wilde? "Prison was unkind to Wilde's health and after he was released on 19 May 1897, he spent his last three years penniless, in self-imposed exile abroad and cut off from society and artistic circles."

    How about an apology to everyone persecuted as witches?

    The fact is that the apology cost nothing and allows Brown to prove he takes note of the petitions (yeah right) and he's a caring sharing sort of chap who saved the world and deserves another five years (yeah right).

    I can just imagine the scene in the Cabinet Office while they discused the lowest impact highest profile petition to pander to. The Sir Humphreys must have been creaming their pinstripes when they came up with this one.

    Cynical moi?

  43. SDF1586
    Thumb Down

    Meaningless twoddle.

    I can only add my voice to the school of thought which sees the idiocy of apologizing for something you had nothing to do with. Posturing it certainly is. Old Macavity sticks his head over the parapet when there's no chance of catching a bullet. Big deal!

    One can empathise or express regret, but to apologise is a trite nonsense.

    Has anybody apologized for the beheading of Charles I yet? Or the Dutch invasion of 1688? How about sticking to making apologies for those mistakes for which you are responsible, Mr.Brown? Or should we wait 50 years for another Labour government, though more likely some EU tyrant, to do that for you?

  44. bobbles31
    WTF?

    Of all the petitions

    Of all the petitions that have been submitted :

    General Election Please

    Please tell the CPS to follow up on PHORM

    Stop the war in Iraq

    Stop ID Cards

    he picks this one...the one that means absolutely sweet nob all to anyone except as a gesture to look like the petitions website actually achieves something.

    Don't get me wrong, I think that Turing is one of the greatest minds to have lived teamed with Tommy Flowers they achieved something quite remarkable in the worst of circumstances and at such a difficult time and as payment for their efforts Turing gets ousted from his profession (although being a homosexual at the time did make him a real target for blackmail) and Flowers is pretty much made bankrupt for actually building Turing's invention. But these are all historic events and apologising for them doesn't change them at all.

    Why not focus his efforts on actually changing something that the British people care about and that is happening right now, whilst he is a leader and able to prevent something that is truly objectionable. For me, it would be to stop the Police state that is forming in this country at an ever increasing rate and that is tearing down the very society that people like Turin and Flowers were fighting to protect.

  45. M man

    Stick him on a 5er

    or a £20

  46. Paul 4

    What should he do?

    All this negativeity over it. What should have been done? Should the government have ignored it? Refused to appologise? I need to know what you people think, but im not sure I want to. Im guessing this is just bile from people who will lash out about anything.

    Im glad its come, not sure about the knight hood because it seems a little pointless, and would rather see the time spent trying to get more funding.

  47. Nick Kew Silver badge
    Flame

    The Irony

    An apology to the memory of Turing. Not to anyone else destroyed by the same persecution: say, Oscar Wilde, to take another distinguished example.

    But that's neither here nor there. The real irony is that this should take place at the same time as the biggest "indecency" witch-hunt in history is taking place, all in the name of protecting the children. A small number of adults who pose any kind of threat, but a far greater number made to suffer, some of them seriously - as happened to Turing or Wilde.

    A future government in search of a soundbite will have so much more to apologise for. Even if we set aside altogether more serious issues like war and pollution.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    worthless

    This must count as the most worthless thing anybody can receive... an apology from Gordon Brown

  49. Alastair McFarlane

    @northern monkey, Paul 4

    I'm with him on that one. TO use your example: I would *not* expect the German government to have apologised. I would expect them to regret that it happened, but that is short of an official apology.

    Paul: Ignore it, no. However an "apology" is different from expressing publicly a regret that something happened.

    The government of the time may have been responsible, but just as Gordon Brown wasn't present in it at the time, neither was any of the rest of the Government.

    I'm glad that a statement was made, and I'm glad that Turing's descendants take some comfort from it. I just, personally, don't feel it means anything.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brown

    Idiot.

    Turing broke the law, that's all there is to it. That the modern fashion is different is irrelevant.

  51. GadgetOCD

    @Blue Eyed Boy

    All but the ignorant and hate ridden tiny minority would say that any persecution or discrimination based on sexuality (at no matter what stage in history or the discriminatory laws then in force) is repugnant.

    I hope and pray that one day you will find the strength to reach a level of self awareness and tolerance befitting of a decent and compassionate society.

  52. Spleen

    Is it worthwhile?

    If Gordon Brown had been Prime Minister at the time the prosecution of Turing went ahead, would he have opposed Turing's prosecution, or at least immediately used all his political weight to repeal the fascist laws in the future? Of course he bloody wouldn't. He'd have either supported it, or done a Lockerbie and done everything to avoid giving the impression that he had any opinion or influence on the matter.

    That is why an apology from his lips is totally worthless. Basically, nothing has changed, and an apology is only worthwhile as a recognition that you did wrong and a commitment not to act the same way in the future. We may not have laws against homosexuality in this country right now, but the present government is just as obsessed with power as the ones that wrote them and maintained them.

    I wonder which poor sods who commit suicide after being maliciously persecuted by Brown's anti-paedo or anti-terror or Prohibition laws we'll be giving posthumous apologies for forty years from now.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @What should he do?

    "All this negativeity over it. What should have been done? Should the government have ignored it? Refused to appologise?"

    Nothing, he is no more guilty of it than the people demanding the apology, or you or I. He doesn't need to "refuse" to apologise anymore than *they* need to "refuse" to apologise, or *I* need to apologise for it.

    If we can get him to apologise for this thing THAT HE DIDN'T DO, how many *other* groups can get him to apologize for many other things he also didn't do???

    What he's done by this is lay himself open to criticism, Turin was locked up for Buggery, which was considered a sex act against nature at the time. Jacqui's locking people up for *HAVING A PICTURE* of an act against nature, once removed from the crime! Her law is even more oppressive!

    And the punishment would not just exclude him from government security jobs, it would exclude him from private jobs too via the extended background check.

    So by apologising, he's now fair game, we can draw all sorts of parallels and show that, how actually, NuLabour has created a far far more oppressive regime than the one Brown has apologised for!

    It's like he is not a leader, they demand an apology, he obeys and issues an apology....but it has nothing to do with him, so he's only apologising because they demanded he apologise!

  54. Mike Cardwell

    Responsibility

    Northern Monkey:

    "So would you expect the German government to never have apologised for their history, on behalf of their ancestors?"

    Of course not ... Why should they?

    Anonymous Coward:

    "So you wouldn't expect the CEO of a company to apologise to you if one their workers killed your family through negligence? The CEO didn't do it, but the organisation that they are responsible for did, but they shouldn't apologise, just the worker?"

    That depends on whether or not I consider the CEO responsible for the event.

    What don't you people get? The only people who should be apologising for things are the people who are responsible for them. Apologising on the behalf of someone else is shallow, hollow, and if used for political reasons, shameful. The unwashed masses have difficulty enough understanding the concept of responsibility, why muddy the waters further.

  55. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    AC

    Idiot.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Reading Difficulties

    The exact quote on the number 10 website is the one quoted in this article.

  57. northern monkey
    Megaphone

    @AC

    "That the modern fashion is different is irrelevant."

    Just because a law exists does not make it just! Should we forget the holocaust ever happened because 'that was the fashion in Nazi Germany' - I certainly hope they don't outlaw idiocy as you'll be first against the wall!

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    eh?

    I'm sitting here, quiet as a mouse, keeping my self to my self.. and I get called an idiot.

    Charming.

  59. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: eh?

    Not you, AC.

    (Plonker.)

  60. peyton?

    I hadn't considered before

    "...and has drawn a line separating us from a nasty, nasty part of our past..."

    I've always had a bit of trouble appreciating such apologies, but had never really considered posterity. As current events get compressed and blurred together with the passage of time, it'll probably provide a sort of waypoint of past outlooks and thought. More so, I think, than gradual changes to laws, etc... and certainly more so than just saying "we apologize for every bad thing we did to anybody ever" (which some comments seem to indicate is what is needed. If people think Brown's apology sounded insincere...)

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Re: Brown

    @ AC:

    You appear to be lost, you will find the Daily Mail website at this URL: www.dailymail.co.uk

    Now go fuck off over there, you scrofulous bell-end.

  62. RW

    Brown's "apology" is meaningless

    Just like everything else he says. Does he think that having himself, as PM, utter these empty words lends cachet to them? Think again. GB has, at least imho, so lied, distorted, exaggerated, and abused his position for petty political advantage that nothing he says about anything commands an iota of respect. The man is a walking joke and unfit for purpose.

    Alan Turing deserves a much more significant "apology" than words crafted by a spin doctor and mouthed by a liar.

    But, alas, Turing is dead and no amount of gaseous belches from the PM will make any difference.

  63. blackworx
    Pint

    @GadgetOCD

    Well said

  64. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Typical

    Gordon Brown only apologises for things he HASN'T done.

    Watch him blame others (or disappear for days) when things go wrong thanks to him though.

  65. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
    Grenade

    Maybe we should put up an apology list then?

    I personally think he couldn't apologise, for once he wasn't involved - he could have expressed regret.

    We could actually set up an online list and get weekly apology sessions. I still won't vote for anything that smells/stinks of New Labour but it would be quite amusing.

    What would we put on the list, hmm. Let's make a start:

    - Blair (should be multiple entries)

    - Mandelson

    - Knighting Bill Gates

    - David Kelly

    - Lying about the motive for Iraq

    - Collaborating with the US on Iraq

    - Bush (just for entertainment value)

    - Hose pipe ban

    - The weather

    - CCTV

    - RIPA 2000

    Over to you ..

  66. Richard 102

    @Sarah Bee

    "it was an official gesture"

    Uh, yeah. I myself have several official gestures for the government bottom-feeders. None of them SFW.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Only toadies apologise for things they didn't do

    I think it would be best if we drew a shroud over your semi-literate and ill-informed little rant.

  68. J 3

    Re: Cringeworthy

    "Why would you apologise for something you took no part in? It's cringeworthy."

    Well, I can only consider that fair if you also do NOT do idiotic things like feeling proud of your country's past (none of you were there or did it), do NOT brag about what your ancestors did (defeat the Germans? save Europe? break the Enigma code? set up an Empire where the Sun never sets? you didn't, they did, so shut up about it), etc. etc.

    If you want to take the glory for the good bits, you have to also take the blame for the bad ones. Although the hypocrites don't. And I have the impression that the ones most eager to brag about the good stuff are the first to yell "it wasn't me, no need to be sorry!" when talking about the bad stuff -- when they acknowledge there was anything bad at all to begin with. You know, conservative types.

    OK, so these apologies are no good to the victims themselves. Only an idiot would bother getting worked up about something so obviously self-evident. What good to Galileo was the Pope apologizing some 400 years later? (AFAIK they still haven't to Giordano Bruno, though)

    The (eventual, possible, theoretical) good of such apologies is to send messages to TODAY's society, I think. What statements like this do is remind people that it is *not OK* to do such things anymore -- and it is needed to be said because *people still do* such things as discriminating according to religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or whatever.

    So, you're free to cringe if you still think these types of discrimination are fine and good.

    (all the above regardless of what you believe the underlying reasons for apologizing are, political gain or whatever)

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What a naive lot you are

    You petition for something that has no consequence whatsoever except that it gives Gordon Brown a chance to look good without having to do anything. Of course he apologised.

    What? You didn't think politicians exploited opportunities like that?

    Well try petitioning him to apologise for being a useless PM. I think you'll find he takes a bit longer over that one!

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An apology from Brown may be worthless

    But that is not the point. Which have already been well made, but to concentrate them in one place:

    (1) Brown is apologising on behalf of the government, which he currently heads. Unlike the concept of sins of fathers, the UK government is an entity that has existed for a long time and will continue to exist until New-New-Labour sell us to be the 51st state.

    (2) The apology is much more than a statement of regret - it is a statement that we as a society consider such persecution to be abhorrent

    (3) The history books can now draw a much needed line under the Alan Turing story.

    (4) If you think the apology wrong then you really need to fuck off.

    (5) If you think it is blanket wrong to apologise for past government actions then you need to think about the benefit of apologies vs the damage of doing so for each case. This is one where the only possible damage is through the opinions of rabid homophobes - and I say pissing them off is a Good Thing.

    (6) The net cost to the country of GB making said apology is zero. To be realistic it is better if GB spends his time on things like this rather than screwing the economy IMHO.

    (7) Apologising to one person for their persecution at the hands of a previous government does not somehow legitimise equivalent treatments of others who have not yet received an apology.

    (8) erm...

    (9) That's it...

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Timing

    Clearly a distraction was needed following Brown (surely it should be Yellow) getting a ticking off from Obama for releasing the (innocent) Lockerbie bomber, and his implication in the Afgan hostage fiasco.

    No doubt this and other stories sit in the out-tray waiting until they're needed.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Whoah! Steady on!

    The 1950's post-war Britain is likely to be poorly appreciated by folks in general methinks.

    Moreover methinks that Turing might be seen/perceived to be a universal cure-all for the systematic ills of the time.

    Think (for example) war widows pensions.

    Think (for another example) the class based approach to private pension schemes [Europe, Germany for one, had worker pension schemes decades before the UK did].

    Yep, methinks the kids of today might just start to believe in hogwash with no deeper appreciation of how tough stuff was the many and how pleasant for the few.

  73. Oninoshiko
    Megaphone

    Re: An apology from Brown may be worthless

    (1) Brown is apologising on behalf of the government, which he currently heads. Unlike the concept of sins of fathers, the UK government is an entity that has existed for a long time and will continue to exist until New-New-Labour sell us to be the 51st state.

    As a head-of-state, apologizing for the things that state has done wrong is appropriate, but only if those wrongs are actually regretted by the state in question. Is a state really a self-aware entity capible of understaing the implications of it's actions tward us, or is it in it's giant lumbering beasthood more like me when I step on an ant?

    (2) The apology is much more than a statement of regret - it is a statement that we as a society consider such persecution to be abhorrent

    Does he have the right to apologize on behalf of society, or just the state? Is the state the same as society? His status as a representitive of society notwithstanding, can the state feel the regret nessacry for an appropriate apology? If it can, does it? I have to question the amount of regret the state feels, in light of recent "extreme porn" laws... "those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." What a sick irony that the same pen that inked that apology, may have written the opportunity for someone to make it again in another fifty years.

    (3) The history books can now draw a much needed line under the Alan Turing story.

    Yes, and now that society has washed it's hands of the whole sorted affair, we can move on to completely ignoring that it ever happened and start doing it all over again. Sarah Bee, you asked the harm in this, and that is the harm in a hollow apology. It vinidicates us, that we me commit the offense again.

    (4) If you think the apology wrong then you really need to fuck off.

    How vary open minded of you, but in the sake of open mindedness, it sounds like it might be fun!

    (5) If you think it is blanket wrong to apologise for past government actions then you need to think about the benefit of apologies vs the damage of doing so for each case. This is one where the only possible damage is through the opinions of rabid homophobes - and I say pissing them off is a Good Thing.

    Is that the only possable damage? Homophobes be damned (along with bigots of all varity), but as I have stated, I think there is another risk in this. If that where the only risk, by all means let it fly, but if this only serves as a catharsis to clense us of regret just to do it again, that is a Bad Thing (tm).

    (6) The net cost to the country of GB making said apology is zero. To be realistic it is better if GB spends his time on things like this rather than screwing the economy IMHO.

    Well with that i agree... infact I think we should mandate all public servents to personally apologize at every individual that has been persicuted, living or dead, before they can do their first act in their position. It should keep idotic governemnt ideas to a minimum.

    (7) Apologising to one person for their persecution at the hands of a previous government does not somehow legitimise equivalent treatments of others who have not yet received an apology.

    No, but WHY is an apology given to some and not others? Even forget Oscar Wilde, what about some guy you never heard of? Why does he not DESERVE an apology while Alan Turing does? Not to say Turing does not, but that the others DO. Besides it would keep public servents out of trouble ;)

    (8) erm...

    I don't think that's a point... if it is I have no idea how to respond to it... does that mean you win?

    (9) That's it...

    ...and like a five year old, I have to have the final word... actually I just thought it would look weird if I left it blank after that, so I'm done... really I'm finished... ok, stop reading... seriously, stop it.... STOP READING ALREADY! 0.0

  74. Noel Coward
    Thumb Down

    How about....

    an apology to all the other human beings who were "forced to undergo experimental chemical castration"?

    Or is that only wrong for famous people?

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disingenous

    but that is Labour all over.

    What happened to Turing at the hands of the UK was wrong, but it still goes on today, nothing has changed really. It was the psychiatric lot who chemically castrated the man, which then lead to his suicide, the villains are still at large, and these practices still occur.

    A very public investigation should take place, and the criminals identified for the role they played in what really amounts to murder., Apology, knighthood all meaningless whilst the organisations, and mentality that lead to Turing's persecution and subsequent death remain at large.

    Turing played a part in bringing down the German Empire, but a lot of men did as well from that time, and of course some of those men would have suffered the same fate as Turing. The irony of it all, whilst the Germans were doing it on their criteria the UK was also up to much the same, and continues to do so.

    The Nazis are alive and well, and they tend to call themselves psychiatrists, their trade is torture. The forced use of chemicals and the application of electricity to the head still occurs today, and sane and rational people do fall victim to these thugs. The practice and abuses of psychiatry should be laid wide open, it is perhaps the ultimate force of evil in the world today.

  76. Pete "oranges" B.
    Alert

    I Agree.

    I am not sure that there can be any after the fact apologies for such a thing. The burden of our forebearers' transgressions is ours to carry, and to seek absolution in words of regret is ultimately to delude ourselves; The past cannot be unwritten and what absolution there is to find can be found only in the resolve to not only guard against the rise of new evils, but also against the returning of the old ones.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    It is all Hogwash

    Whilst you all clamour for a meaningless apology. Don't forget the political climate at the time. ALAN TURING was a huge security risk. He knew that enigma machine had been cracked. This was not made public until the 1970's and the reason why? Because the WARSAW PACT nations where still using encryption based on the enigma machine. This allowed the west to read warsaw pact communications openly and freely. Being homosexual at the time made him a target for blackmail. A huge security risk.

    It is pathetic how so many people look at the past through rose tinted glasses, with the values of today. The cold war was very real. We who still remember it clearly lived in fear of either nuclear war or the Warsaw pact rolling across the German plains. I was at the time in the Military Police and I can still remember the sinking feeling I got in my stomach, when hearing about Warsaw Pact "Manoeuvres" you just didn't know whether it was a preparation for an attack or not. Our job would have been to round up "undesirables" such as trade unionists, agitators, and anyone else deemed a bit left wing, before we set off to West Germany, to plot the fallout areas from the first tactical nukes. btw those lists of "undesirables" still exist and I have no doubt similar plans are in place for new emergencies.

    Turing deserves recognition, An apology? NO. He risked the safety and security of the Western Democracies.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Hypocritical

    This is a hypocritical and worthless apology, the current government still believes in persecution based on sexual orientation.

    Zoophiles can't watch horse porn, sadomasochists can't enjoy their extreme porn, rape fetishists can't enjoy pseudo-rape scenes and paedophiles can't enjoy cartoon porn or the training bra section of the Littlewoods catalogue without the threat of arrest.

  79. Mike Cardwell

    J 3

    "Why would you apologise for something you took no part in? It's cringeworthy."

    "Well, I can only consider that fair if you also do NOT do idiotic things like feeling proud of your country's past (none of you were there or did it), do NOT brag about what your ancestors did (defeat the Germans? save Europe? break the Enigma code? set up an Empire where the Sun never sets? you didn't, they did, so shut up about it), etc. etc."

    So you agree that what I said was fair then. All of the above is obvious. I'm no patriot.

  80. Andrew Newstead

    Just a note...

    In the general flaming no -one seems to have noticed the comments in Brown's statement that mention the others who suffered like Turing;

    "Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.

    I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue."

    I feel these two paragraphs put a different spin on things (intentional use of words), turning this into a comment aimed at the LGB community. Perhaps this is an apology the LGB community as a whole, using Turing as a vehicle, why he has chosen to do this at the current time I will leave to other commentators.

    For what it's worth I think Turing should be on a bank note and it should be a £10 note as this is the one most of us see coming out of the cash points. That way most of the UK population will become aware of Turing's story.

  81. Jean-Luc Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @Blue Eyed Boy

    First, I thank the Reg's moderator for allowing your eloquent opinion to be aired.

    I am not gay, nor do I think of sex between men with much enthusiasm. It is a matter of personal freedom though. I would gladly have signed the Turing petition, though I sometimes dismiss gay activists as making much ado about little discrimination nowadays.

    Premature dismissal apparently, as backward folks like you would still outlaw, and persecute, private behavior between consenting adults. Perhaps you have not a single personal foible to which an oppressive majority might object, despite them being harmless? There are more enlightened countries, luckily - Saudi Arabia shares your legal opinion.

    @OTHERS re. the pointlessness of countries' apologizing. Compare Europe's relations with Germany, which has expressed heartfelt regret over WW2. To Asian countries' much frostier relations with Japan which consistently waffles about its guilt in places like Nanking.

    I would take pride in the PM's apology, were I living in the UK. It is a sign of maturity to admit past wrongs and it engenders better relations with wronged parties. Perhaps Mr. Brown isn't the most popular PM currently, but in the long term, the apology itself is what counts.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Name the names

    Somehow I feel a better guarantee to people as a way to avoid excesses of the state is for people to be fully aware that actions will be documented and reported to the public.

  83. Jimmy 1

    The Turing Test

    Is Gordon Brown a human being or a Sinclair ZX80 with 1K of RAM?

    With generous apologies to previous ZX owners.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least in the 1950's ...

    ... an apology from a politician for wrongdoing was usually followed by a resignation. Go on Gordon, go ..

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    I'm with you.....

    What would we put on the list, hmm. Let's make a start:

    - Blair (should be multiple entries)

    - Mandelson

    - Knighting Bill Gates

    - David Kelly

    - Lying about the motive for Iraq

    - Collaborating with the US on Iraq

    - Bush (just for entertainment value)

    - Hose pipe ban

    - The weather

    - CCTV

    - RIPA 2000

    Over to you ..

    The millenium Dome and while we're at it........

    Why not add the crucifiction of Christ ?? That should guarantee a few more votes, or am I just being cynical?

  86. Guy Herbert
    Alien

    All a bit of a muddle

    Regardless that you consider HMG to have continuous existence, Brown can't apologise for the judicial treatment of Turing. He might legitimately have been apologising for the exclusion from secret intelligence work, but he talked about "the law", beyond and outside of which intelligence existed at the time.

    He could (again assuming the continuity of government in some sense) have apologised for the campaign of persecution waged by the Home Office against homosexuals in the 50s, when investigations and prosecutions under the pre-existing but previously little-used law were deliberately encouraged. But I don't think that was what he was doing, either.

    The apology is couched in the peculiar terms of identity politics and status crime. While Sir David Maxwell Fyffe was making war on 'vice', seen as a sort of moral infection, Brown can only interpret this as Turing being persecuted "for being gay". He's specifically not saying that persecution by the state is wrong, still less that the Home Office should get out of private relationships. If anything he is rehearsing the current received wisdom, that *being* gay is OK as a matter of fact; and therefore that the circumstances that drove one famous man to suicide were an unfortunate product of a factually mistaken judicial and administrative process, failing correctly to attribute OK-ness to certain inherent characteristics.

  87. Equitas
    Thumb Down

    Hmmm...........

    Let's work through this:

    Turing tried to make use of the law of the day in relation to a burglary by his male lover

    Turing's relationship with his lover, illegal in terms of the law of the day, thus became evident to the police.

    Turing was prosecuted in terms of the law of the day and his security clearance revoked

    I may not like the law of today -- but I can't ignore it. I may think that urination in a public place shouldn't be an offence -- but I know that if I do it, I may be arrested.

    Turing knowingly broke the law and then tried to use the law to support him against, as it happens, his lover. Running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.

    A brilliant man, but a flawed personality and wide open to blackmail.

    As for Gordon Brown's "apology" -- a piece of nonsense designed to appeal to those of a particular sexual orientation.

  88. pdsok
    Paris Hilton

    I'm sick ...

    ... of all this apologising for distant past crap,

    OK so what happened was usually wrong, often only when judged by todays morals/standards, but do they apologise to every single individual? nope just to the odd few to appease those who ask for it.

    Don't they see Its not about the apology it's about them looking good by saying

    "Oh yes %organisation% got it wrong we apologise unreservedly to the family/fans/friends of %famousname%"

    <whisper> There that will get them votingforme/buyingourproduct/offourbacks.</whisper>

    Judge today's actions by today's standards and yesterday's actions by yesterday's standards.

    If and only if they are found to be appropriate then apologies all round but otherwise if it was appropriate for the time then leave it be! If Genghis Khan did not go around beating the shit out of all and sundry I'm pretty sure there would have been someone else to step up to the mark as it was pretty normal for its time (if you look at the real history and not the eating babies kind). So don't start asking for apologies for his behaviour. Oh! they already did?? thats it I'm off

    Paris, cos no-one should have to apologise for her! well maybe......

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