Diary: Campaign for codebreaker's pardon is thwarted again

  • @andymcsmith

The centenary of the birth of the English mathematician Alan Turing is just 15 weeks away, and still the smell of a nation's ingratitude hangs over his life story. There are very few men or women who contributed as much as Turing did to the defeat of Nazi Germany. He was the master codebreaker, the mathematical genius in residence at the Bletchley Park spy centre, the linchpin of a secret operation that Winston Churchill described as "The geese that laid the golden eggs – but never cackled".

Turing's reward was to be arrested in 1952 and tried for homosexuality. To avoid prison, he agreed to undergo chemical castration. On 7 June 1954, he committed suicide.

Yesterday, Iain Stewart, the Tory MP whose Milton South East constituency contains Bletchley Park, made another attempt in the Commons to prod the Government into granting Turing a posthumous pardon, and hit the same legal barricade as everyone else who has tried. Turing can be pardoned, said the Leader of the House, Sir George Young, only if there is "fresh evidence".

Fresh evidence is beside the point. No one disputes that Turing was gay, or that homosexuality was then a criminal offence. The argument is that it should not have been, which gets you nowhere in law. So it appears that Turing's centenary will come and go while his status as a convicted offender will remain.

Dorries gets all of a flutter on Twitter

About 18 months ago, the Conservative MP Nadine Dorries came off Twitter, wrote an essay on why MPs should not use Twitter, and wrote a blog headed: "Is there such a thing as Twitter addiction?"

On January 20 this year, she went back on Twitter. Yesterday, she logged her 1,000th tweet on the new feed, having kept up a steady average of more than 20 tweets a day, every day, for seven weeks. For the record, tweet 999 said: "My choice for the next President of the USA Sarah Palin or Jeb Bush. Either still possible." I think the answer to her question about Twitter addiction is "yes".

The MP who hates life in the slow lane

Jamie Reed, Labour MP for Copeland, is another compulsive tweeter – more than 60 tweets yesterday alone, including some early-morning expressions of the frustration of travelling a crowded London Tube. "My morning Tube journey is typically excruciating, usually surrounded by long-suffering people who I think are clinically depressed," he complained. "I abhor violence so much I'd like to smash its face in. That said, I am compelled to issue these rather aggressive edicts. People on the Underground pulling along little wheeled suitcases behind them with no regard for their surroundings will henceforth get a crafty little kick in the back of the knee from me. I may even flick their ears. Secondly, if you get to the Tube barrier without having your Oyster [card] or ticket ready I am going to stand on the back of your shoe."

After Eric Joyce's alleged escapades in Stranger's Bar, I am not sure that a Labour MP threatening violence is as funny as it might have been.

Craven comments in the local press

This headline from yesterday's Illkley Gazette looked somewhat cruel and judgmental at first glance – "Craven councillor unhappy with constituency Conservatives". It concerns Adrian Naylor, who has been deselected from his seat on Bradford Council and complains of being "stitched up" by fellow Tories. But Craven is the ward he represents, not a description of his behaviour.

Always practise what you preach

I see from the Shropshire Star that Daniel Kawczynski, the Tory MP for Shrewsbury, is irate about the high salaries paid to some public officials in the East Midlands, and has written to David Cameron demanding that their pay be cut to below £100,000 a year, because he is sure they can live comfortably on that.

Never let it be said that Mr Kawczynski does not practice as he preaches. As an MP, he is paid £65,738 a year. He also has a consultancy which, since last June, has brought in a steady £3,000 a month, bringing his income – give or take the odd hundred quid – to £100,000 a year.