Another historical legacy

Tony Blair has expressed sorrow over Britain’s role in the slave trade but for some words are not enough. His comments come as the government prepares to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition British involvement in the slave trade (although emancipation was to take a further 26 years). Belfast port was not a slave port and was often a hotbed of abolitionism but a significant amount of its trade was in supplying the slave ships and the foodstuffs for slave plantations.

  • Alan

    Did I not read that the Sovereign and Burgesses of Belfast actually made a decision not to allow slave ships access to the port of Belfast?

  • DK

    When will the modern curse of sex-slaves taken from Eastern Europe be adequately tackled?

  • roisin

    When will the Cromwellians pay reparations for the Irish Catholics transported as slaves to Jamaica? Is it not time to strip the Anglican and Dissenting Chutches in Ireland of all their ill gotten wealth and give it to the Catholics, “the aboriginals of this island” as one of the Anglicans immortanised us when referring to James Joyce? Either way, would the descendants of those salve trraders not stfu?

  • Cormac

    On a side-ish note, our own Daniel O’Connell was a commited abolitionist (something which, incidentally, I don’t ever recall being told about in school, although we did study O’Connell). For anyone interested, extracts of his speeches on the subject are here: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/rbaapc:@field(DOCID+@lit(rbaapc21410div2))

    Someone once told me, although I’m not sure of the veracity of this, that O’Connell was offered steps towards Catholic emancipation if he would – to borrow a term from Roisin – ‘stfu’ about slavery. He declined the offer. Anyone know if that’s true?

  • Martin

    Indeed, and when will the Irish stump up to the Welsh/Cumbrians for transporting their bretheren, of whom St Patrick was the most notable, into slavery?

    And I’m still waiting for the Normans to cough up for condemning my Alnglo-Saxon ancestors to serfdom for 400 years.

  • Cormac

    For some reason Slugger doesn’t like that link I left. You’ll need to copy it all (including the last 2 brackets) into your URL bar as not all of it is hyperllinked. 🙁

  • Disgruntled

    Somebody should pay me reparations, I want my slaves back.

    Seriously, you can’t apply this retroactive political justice to a time when both politics and justice had very different forms to what they have now.

  • Mickhall

    Prime Minister Blair apologies for the evil of slavery whilst his own hands are dripping with Iraqi blood, in truth he should be told firmly to f-off and in the process have his apology firmly rammed down his throat.

    In any case what is he doing apologizing for slavery, he was neither PM at the time, nor is he head of the British State, the continuity of which [I think] lays with Queen Elisabeth 11.

    If the UK State wishes to apologize for Slavery or any past misdeeds, then it is She who must make the said appology, all else is simply grandstanding and political opportunism. Which sadly is something the British PM is a master of, reality he has less success with.

  • marty

    When will the Cromwellians pay reparations for the Irish Catholics transported as slaves to Jamaica?

    Who are these Cromwellians you speak of?

  • Greenflag

    Britains rise to industrial preeminence rom the 18th century on was financed to a great extent from the profits accrued during the slave trade .
    To it’s credit Britain was also the first nation to outlaw ‘slavery’ . This was done at a time when most Britons did not even have the vote .

    I don’t know what Tony Blair is hoping to achieve at this time with this kind of statement ? It will fall on deaf ears in the Islamic world which is known still to traffic in ‘african’slaves to the degenerate and decadent mini monarchies of the Gulf and Saudi Arabia.

    Pointless exercise by TB IMO. You can’t apologise on behalf of people who have been dead for a couple of hundred years . You can only work to ensure that the same does not happen again . Looking around at our newly globalised world from an economic perspective ‘new forms’ of slavery are emerging but we don’t call it that -yet !

  • lib2016

    The Germans have won a great deal of respect for their willingness to face up to the past. More importantly perhaps they have also won a degree of selfrespect.

    As West Europeans who share a great deal of the cultural heritage which led to Nazism and other evils it has always seemed to me that we are all to ready to absolve ourselves of any tint of racist or colonial attitudes.

    Good for Blair for moving the debate on. Given the rise of all ‘those races without the law’ it is something which will have to be tackled eventually.

  • marty

    Pointless exercise by TB IMO

    He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t though GF.

    I’d be more suspicious of the people who are looking for compensation.

  • T.Ruth

    Has any Pope apologised for the Inquisition?
    Has America government apologised for the sluaghter of 10 million native americans? The low wages paid to illegal immigrants across the world also amounts to slave labour.
    T.Ruth

  • Greenflag

    ‘I’d be more suspicious of the people who are looking for compensation. ‘

    You mean the DUP ? I think it’s called the ‘subvention’ or
    Gordon’s Golden Hoard /Hoax ?

    Jared Diamond in his book ‘The Third Chimpanzee’ lists most of the world’s ‘genocides’. Defining what is and what is not ‘genocide’ seems to have more to do with who is writing the ‘history’than anything else . Ireland and India experienced major famines during British Colonial rule with Ireland losing 2 million people and India some 27 million . Both are ‘glossed’ over as natural disasters in most histories. The term ‘genocide’ is not used by most historians .

    During the 1930’s -some 10 million Ukrainians are estimated to have died of famine brought upon by Stalin’s forced ‘collectivisation’ . Stalin deliberately kept food supplies from those areas where the people refused to part with their ‘land’ under the collectivisation program . But Stalin went one better than the British authorities in Ireland’s famine . Stalin forbade the starving Ukrainians from leaving their areas and region . Thus millions died and cannibalism became a way of life for many until finally even that could not keep people alive .

    Man’s inhumanity to man is part of the human condition . It’s taken a long time for mankind to get where we are today in terms of a ‘collective’ human consciousness . Up to a few thousand years ago our ancestors would not have thought twice about attacking, killing and probably eating any ‘stranger’ who wandered into their territory without permission.

  • marty

    You mean the DUP?
    LOL

  • Seana

    Hear Hear for Greenflag! Enslaving your captive enemy, icluding buying and selling them, was common amongst all warring tribes, on this island and in other parts of the world, including the African continent. Of course the British were amongst those who made a business of it, but in the political world of those times there were many races who did so. Just as Britain wasn’t the only european country to have a world empire – it’s the way things were done and so part of ‘old world’ culture.

    Tony’s teeing us all up for the commemoration of the abolition of slavery – just like he tees us up for everything else!

  • Dolmen builder

    “When will the Cromwellians pay reparations for the Irish Catholics transported as slaves to Jamaica? Is it not time to strip the Anglican and Dissenting Chutches in Ireland of all their ill gotten wealth and give it to the Catholics, “the aboriginals of this island” as one of the Anglicans immortanised us when referring to James Joyce? Either way, would the descendants of those salve trraders not stfu? ”

    Roisin you need help. Man has lived in Ireland for aprox 5000 years, the Catholic Church in Ireland is about 1400 years old, you do the math.

  • DK

    The problem with reparations is deciding who deserves them. It is all so long ago (200 years I am led to believe) that the descendents are pretty mixed up. Many “whites” have a bit of black in them and even more blacks have some white in them. And not all blacks were slaves, so even that barometer doesn’t work.

    And then who pays reparations? The Europeans who bought the slaves or the blacks who sold them or both. And do you get exemptions if your ancestor was active in the campaign against slavery? And then how far back do you go? Do the white slaves taken from various uprisings count? Who counts as a slave – do indentured servants count, or do you have to be used in manual labour? And why should the reparations be limited to slaves – what about the people deported/executed for minor crimes, do their families not also deserve recompense?

    Why not just replace water charges with a donation to the existing anti-slavery campaigns. More useful than someone handing Ryan Giggs a cheque for something that happened 200 years ago.

  • This is classic Blair.

    Apologise for something that clearly is not your fault.

    Look conciliatory and compassionate for the cameras.

    Any chance of him apologising for things that ARE his fault?

    Lemmethink?

    What about his grandstanding at the dispatch box about Saddam’s WMD?

  • TheRymer

    DK, As a side note Ryan Giggs dad was Black (or Mixed Race), it just goes to prove your point.

  • TheRymer

    Sorry DK very it’s late, just re-read what your post, your point came flying past me like a football kicked by Mr Giggs…

  • abucs

    Doesn’t the Queen have some African ancestry ?

    I thought i read somewhere that they married into
    the French royal family who themselves had an African Queen Grand mother ?

    I wonder if QE2 will accept Blairs apology ?

    For consideration :

    http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/CORNISH/2003-05/1051807209

  • Dr Strangelove

    Mick Hall – “Queen Elisabeth 11”

    Apart from the typo, what happened to the other 9 ? I think we should be told.