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Home > Politics

WAWIBF... Slavery

2 March 2007

Yesterday a group of well-meaning folk set off on a 400-kilometre walk to mark the 200th anniversary of Britain’s abolition of the Slave Trade Act and to call for former slave-trading nations to apologise for the brutal, inhumane actions of their ancestors. They’re walking from Hull, the birthplace of William Wilberforce, a key figure in the swell to abolition, to London, where they will march with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will be atoning for the church’s part in the whole shebang. Along the way, they will occasionally be dressing as slaves in yokes and chains, enhancing the oral tradition and inventing the roots of rock and roll. Just to hammer it home.

Tony Blair has expressed ‘deep sorrow’ about the slave trade, but he can’t seem to stop himself shilly-shallying around the subject and generally weaselling about like a shifty little bastard with something to hide.

Andrew Winter, one of the marchers, spelled out to the press what was required: ‘Foremost we want to bring about an apology from Britain and Europe and the slave trading nations, saying sorry for our involvement in that.’

We can’t see that it’ll make a blind bit of difference to anybody frankly, but if it’ll make someone somewhere think they feel better, and maybe free up some of their time to do something more constructive, then why doesn’t Blair just say:

‘Listen. Well, firstly I’d like to say, that it wasn’t me. You know, I wasn’t even born then, let alone, waging war on anyone. But obviously, it was a terrible thing. Slavery is, always, a terrible thing. And I’m sorry that people from this country - and indeed all the other countries, it wasn’t just Britain after all - were involved in what was a pernicious, self-serving, immoral... state of affairs. Furthermore I’m sorry that Britain has such, a rich history, of ruthless barbarity and, even, bloodlust. I’m sorry that happened. I think the people who perpetuated it were, frankly, swine. But again, it wasn’t me. So, to reiterate, I think it was a bloody disgrace, frankly, but it wasn’t my personal responsibility. Now, moving on to the 60,000 civilians killed so far in Iraq, which I definitely did have a hand in...



Or if he’s not up for that, a simple ‘sorry for our involvement in that’ will apparently suffice.

And then everything will be alright.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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