Gordon Brown apologises

To bowdlerise a well-known phrase, Gordon Brown is an apologetic man with much to apologise about.  And now he has decided to issue a “personal apology” for the treatment of mathematician Alan Turing in 1952.
 
Alan Turing was an amazing intellect.  He did groundbreaking work on artificial intelligence.  He created the conceptual framework for modern computing.  His work at Bletchley Park during the Second World War made an extraordinary contribution to victory, by unravelling German codes.
 
He was also a homosexual, at a time when homosexuality was a criminal offence in Britain.  In 1952, he was prosecuted for homosexuality, and convicted, and, apparently, “chemically castrated”.  In despair, he killed himself with cyanide (though there were suspicions of foul play).
 
To us in the 21st century, it is almost inconceivable that anyone, least of all a war hero, should be prosecuted, shamed and cruelly punished simply for being homosexual.  It is something which all decent people will surely regret, and see as a grave injustice.  We should be glad that we live in more tolerant and liberal times.
 
But I still have a problem with the need felt by politicians to apologise for deeds that were done while they were still in nappies, or before, and for which they clearly bear no personal responsibility.  We regret the persecution of homosexuals.  We regret eugenics.  Going further back, we regret the slave trade.  We regret the Roman practice of sacrificing early Christians to the lions in the arena.  But for those who played no part in these abuses to affect to apologise for them is merely mawkish and self-indulgent.  And for the distant descendents of ancient victims to claim compensation on behalf of their ancestors, as is now the case with the slave trade, is preposterous.
 
Gordon Brown has plenty of things to apologise for where he is genuinely responsible, where he carries a heavy burden of responsibility for the damage he has done to Britain and the British economy.  Let him start to make reparations for those things, rather than offer spurious apologies for things he never did.

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1 Response to Gordon Brown apologises

  1. I think we’ll have to wait for a future Labour leader to apologise for the actions of Brown et al.

    That’s how the apology seems to work these days.

    I think Alan Turing should have been treated kindlier, but you’re not suggesting that we suspend the law of the land to suit particular persons are you?

    Who regrets eugenics? The ‘family planning’ industry is comparable: 200,000 abortions a year; conditioning people only to have a couple of children, etc.

    Unfortunately, Mr Helmer, a vote for the Tories in the General Election will change nothing.

    While Mr Cameron chases the ‘pink vote’, the country slips effortlessly down the drain.

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