Computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing will feature on the new design of the Bank of England’s £50 note.
Theresa May said “his achievements are outstanding, at least that’s what Wikipedia said when I looked him up. Plus Benedict Cumberbatch played him in a film so he must be a big cheese”.
Yet for decades, the idea of Turing being featured on a banknote seemed impossible. This will be seen as an attempt to signal how much has changed in society following the long, ultimately successful campaign to pardon Turing of his 1952 conviction – under contemporary laws – for having a homosexual relationship.
“Yes a homosexual is now on a banknote and I’m pleased to say homophobia is no more” claimed Theresa May. “LGBT people are safe from discrimination and we don’t need to mention things like chemical castration, or Section 28 and how I supported that act”.
In 2013, Turing was given a posthumous royal pardon for his 1952 conviction for gross indecency following which he was chemically castrated. He had been arrested after having an affair with a 19-year-old Manchester man.
“What did I just say?” Theresa May countered. “We don’t mention chemical castration and nasty things like that anymore! It’s in the past! We pardoned him and now he’s on a banknote. I’d say he owes us”.
The debate over representation on the Bank’s notes could resurface after this decision. Jane Austen will continue to be the only woman, apart from the Queen, whose image will be seen on the four notes.There was also a campaign calling for a historic figure from a black and ethnic minority background (BAME) to feature on the new £50 note.
“Don’t worry there will be more token gestures in the future to end sexism and racism” continued Theresa May. “Let’s see… Joan Armatrading on a stamp? That’s the hat trick right there!”