Tag Archives: alan turing

Meet Vince Cable

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The lovely digital team at HQ have interviewed Vince Cable.

He spent his childhood immersed in chocolate, it seems.

I grew up in York, which was then very much an industrial city. Its factories supplied the country’s railway carriages and fed its appetite for sweets. I grew up breathing the all-pervasive smell of sugar, cocoa and vanilla.

My first home was a small terraced house close to the Terry’s chocolate factory. My father Len was a craftsman at Rowntree’s chocolate factory whilst my mother Edith packed chocolates for rival firm Terry’s.

I arrived at the University in York at about the same time as Vince left for university and career, and I have fond memories of Tuesdays, which was chocolate making day at Rowntrees. Walking through the town was like being bathed in chocolate.

After Cambridge he ended up in Glasgow where he became a Labour councillor. He was one of the first Labour members to join the SDP.

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LIbLInk: John Sharkey: Why I fought to get a pardon for gay and bi men

Much of the coverage of the new law pardoning thousands of gay men for historic convictions became law last week. The Lib Dem peer who fought for this for years, John Sharkey, has written for Pink News about why this was such an important issue for him.

He started with an account of how homosexual acts became a crime in the first place – almost casually.

On 6 August 1885, late at night in the Commons debate on the Criminal Law Amendment Act, Henry Labouchère suddenly produced an amendment to the Bill before the House. This amendment criminalised homosexual acts. The only discussion was over the penalty to be imposed. Labouchère had proposed a maximum of one year. Sir Henry James suggested two years and Labouchère agreed. The whole debate had four speakers, including Labouchère. It lasted four minutes and consisted of a total of 440 words, but 75,000 men were convicted under this amendment, and Alan Turing was one of those.

At university, he had been taught by Turing’s closest friends and got to know his story: 

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

GCHQ apologises to gay people

 

The boss of GCHQ has apologised for banning gay people from working for the organisation right up until the 90s. Robert Hannigan was speaking at a conference run by Stonewall, when he referred to a spy called Ian who was sacked in the 1960s for being gay.

After seven years of exemplary service, with very strong prospects for the future, he was interrogated on suspicion of being homosexual, he was summarily dismissed and escorted out of the building. He got no support from anyone in authority at all, even his union, and no-one ever followed up to check on his well-being or to show any compassion. Not surprisingly, his health suffered and the psychological effects of that humiliation were long-lasting.

… Their suffering was our loss and it was the nation’s loss too because we cannot know what Ian and others who were dismissed would have gone on to do and achieve.

Whenever a group of people are excluded from areas of employment and expertise for reasons that have nothing to do with their competence, then we have to ask what could have been achieved if they had been included in the pool of talent. There is always the question about ‘what might have been’ if the organisation had been completely free to choose the best candidates for a job.

What caught my eye, though, were the references to Alan Turing in Hannigan’s speech:

But in our building he is revered as a genius, as a problem-solver who was not afraid to think differently and radically – an example to others. And in the horrifying story of his treatment, a small ray of light is that he was not abandoned by all of his colleagues at GCHQ – many stood by him and our then Head of Cryptanalysis – chief code breaker – testified at his trial.

… We did not learn our lesson from Turing.

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My proudest day as a Liberal Democrat

fordham and eaglingAccording to the cash receipt slip I was given by the membership secretary of Stanford and Spalding constituency local party I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats for 26 years 4 months and 25 days. I have experienced the lows and highs of losing and winning elections, I have been involved in conference debates, fringes, attending key speeches and declarations, delivering leaflets, knocking on doors, influenced government policies, and when I married Russell Eagling on 5th July this year I was the direct beneficiary of the Liberal Democrats in Government.

Yet today Tuesday 18th November 2014 will go down as one of the days on which I was proudest to be a Liberal Democrat. The two instances could not be more related and yet more different.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

Vince Cable writes… Remembering Alan Turing

IMG_0923Today sees the general release of the film The Imitation Game, a dramatic portrayal of the life and work of Alan Turing.

By all accounts the film, with the leading role played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is set to be a great success. Oscars are already being talked about.

But why am I drawing attention to this specific film?

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments

Opinion: Merry Christmas, Mr Turing

Merry Christmas. What’s on your tree this year? Baubles? Tinsel? Some of that fake snow that looks a bit like candy floss and gets everywhere by New Year? Almost certainly some fairy lights.

However you decorate your Christmas tree, you would probably think it looked a bit bare if it only had the star on the top. You’d be right. Which is why, however big an achievement it is for those who have campaigned for it, I can only raise one-and-a-half cheers today at the news Alan Turing has at long last received a posthumous pardon for the conviction he received …

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Opinion: Turing, equality and internationalism

What have we contributed as part of the Coalition government?  Well one success (but there have been many others) is enacting the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 which gives  gay and lesbian people the  same right to marry as heterosexual couples.  I have severe doubts that a Tory majority government could have introduced this reform!

Whilst Britain has progressed to an open society where LGBT people are protected by law, many other countries like Iran, Nigeria and notably Russia have not.  However liberal Britain did not just happen overnight, and the changes in our society’s attitudes have taken many decades to …

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