Monthly Archives: December 2012

Scientists call for pardoning of Alan Turing on his anniversary

Some of Britain’s leading scientists have called on the government to grant a posthumous pardon to the fantastic mathematician Alan Turing. Turning is best known for his code breaking work during the war at Bletchly Park, although his mathematical genius reached far wider than just that.

In 1952, Turing was convicted of gross indecency after acknowledging a sexual relationship with a man. He was submitted to treatment with female hormones, and three years later took his own life. Homosexual acts between two men were illegal at this time, and were decriminalised in 1967.

Professor Stephen Hawking, Astronomer Royal Lord Rees and the Royal Society’s Sir Paul Nurse are among 11 signatories to a letter in the Daily Telegraph calling for Turning to be pardoned. This has caused quite an uproar of debate and opinion.

Personally, I feel that if the law was deemed wrong enough to be scrapped, then those caught by that law should be pardoned. Quite simple really. The excuse of saying that it was the law at the time just doesn’t hold much truck with me I’m afraid.

In my mind, if you repeal a law because you think it was wrong, you say that you were sorry for anyone caught under it, had the law not being there they would have no record of doing wrong. I know it’s almost a circular argument, but I feel it’s a matter of principle, and not just about this law. I think that any thing that was wrong to punish makes the punishment wrong regardless of whether it was the law at the time of punishment.

I think that it’s much broader than this case; it is a philosophical debate of what law, crime and punishment really mean.

A tragedy is already happening under our noses

Some numbers. Very sad numbers. You can check all of these using search engines, and have multiple corroborating sources. [Edited from a post by S. K. Walker.]

27 – People shot dead in the Connecticut school shooting.

24,000 – number of people who died in the UK last winter because of ‘fuel poverty’. 

73 – deaths per week (including suicides) among disabled people as a result of the government’s programme of Work Capability Assessments (WCAs), which is categorising people as fit for work when they are plainly not.(Many have expressed doubts over the veracity of this figure. They are DWP figures and widely accept as reliable and have been referred to in many House of Commons debates, a good benchmark. However, others wonder how we can compare this to the general death rate. In reply I offer that, the year previously there were 52 deaths per week recorded, so this is a year on year increase. Now these deaths start to sound more serious, in my opinion.)500,000 (est.) – number of disabled people deliberately excluded from the reforms to DLA, to be called the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), as a cost-saving measure. So not receiving the extra mobility support and care allowances to carry on a normal life (many of these need this extra support to carry on working and “contributing to society” by paying tax etc etc.)

But that appears over-cautious. Yesterday, the Tory Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, told the House of Commons that, of the 560,000 people who will be assessed for the new benefit by 2015, 330,000 are expected to be excluded from the benefit. That’s an exclusion rate of 59%. 3.2 million people receive DLA, so if the same failure rate applies as they become due for reassessment, that means around 1.9 million disabled people who will lose crucial support. Using the same calculations as I applied to the 500,000 initially flagged to be excluded, it means almost a million people pushed below the poverty line.

(There is also another issue: how do the Government know the numbers before reassessment has even taken place? This sounds like another ‘forecasted mean’ that looks like a target, but “isn’t a target – OK?”…)

Factor that into the death rate from energy and food poverty, and you’re looking at a situation where the 24,000 deaths last winter will look like nothing compared to what we’re going to see, let alone the 30 innocent deaths in Connecticut.

‎”The root of socialism is democracy, and only a society that is truly democratic could also become truly socialist.”

‘Socialism? Socialism is a democratic idea. The most socialist thing we ever did was the most popular thing we ever did, the NHS.’

“It is a social-ism. It’s about trying to construct a society round production from need and not just for profit! Around meeting people’s needs, that’s what it’s about!”

“I regard democracy as the most radical and revolutionary idea of our time. The powers that rule us talk about it. But they resist it with all the wiles and techniques at their command. ”

(of the current recession) “In this sense the present economic crisis is actually a crisis of democracy as the market has taken from parliament the power to shape the policy of the nation. Elected leaders, such as George Bush and the prime minister, have been left the role of commentators on the crisis and suppliers of endless cash in an attempt to save a system that failed us.”

“It used to be clear that the ruling classes had the wealth, authority and power while those underneath did not. This started to change when the right to appoint our rulers moved from the wallet to the ballot. Now they are doing everything they can to preserve their power. This is why democratic rights and civil liberties are so important and essential. We must now preserve our right to speak, to assemble, to organise, to move around freely and protect our identity, and not become crushed by the state.”

“Democracy is not just voting every 5 years and watching ‘Big Brother’ in between and wondering why nothing happens. Democracy is what we do and say where we live and work”

“It seems to me that the most powerful religion of all, much more powerful than Christianity, Judaism, Islam and so on, is the people who worship ….money! That is really the most powerful religion and the banks are bigger than the cathedrals, the headquarters of the multinaional companies are bigger than the mosques or the synagogues. Every hour on the news we have the business news?! Every hour! It’s a sort of hymn to capitalism….the idea that money is what it is all about!……and with it comes this extra ordinary cult of management consultants.”

“Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.

“In a civilised community, although it may be composed of self-reliant individuals, there will be some persons who will be unable at some period of their lives to look after themselves, and the question of what is to happen to them may be solved in three ways:

  1. they may be neglected;
  2. they may be cared for by the organised community as of right;
  3. or they may be left to the goodwill of individuals in the community.

“The first way is intolerable, and as for the third: Charity is only possible without loss of dignity between equals. A right established by law, such as that to an old age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor one, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice.”

[Emphasis and formatting added.]

Clement Attlee served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955. He oversaw the setting up of the welfare state and the National Health Service during the post-war austerity period.