Why should we have to apologise for things done hundreds of years ago ?

Tony Blair has made a partial apology for Britain's role in the slave trade hundreds of years ago. However, some people are still calling for a full apology. All very noble I'm sure, but I personally did not profit from slavery, I never have supported slavery and I had no control over it, so why should the government feeling obliged to apologise on my behalf.

I wouldn't expect the child of a murderer to apologise for what his or her parents did, I wouldn't expect Joseph Stalin's children to apologise for the excesses and terrors of Stalin's regime in the USSR, so why should my government made an apology on behalf of me ? It wasn't my fault !

I can understand some of the horrors that must have occurred under slavery, but can also recall that only a few hundred years before there were serfs and slaves in Britain who were controlled by nobles from France after the Norman conquest. What next, an apology from the French governmen for the Battle of Hastings ?

We should all recognise the massive injustices of slavery, but also remember that despite Britain being a key player, the slave trade was not simply a case of rounding people up and herding them on to ships. In many cases slaves were purchased from black slave dealers in Africa who made fortunes selling other tribes to the British. Frrres alves also often purchased slaves and profited from the slave trade. And let us not forget that it was the British who abolished slavery and really forced this on to the rest of the world.

You only have to do a quick search on the internet to find that slavery continues in Africa, perpetuated by Africans on fellow Africans, with African governments doing little to abolish it. Read the links to this Wikipedia entry for starters.

S0 Tony Blair, recognise that it was wrong, personally apologise if you wish, but I don't see why you should apologise on my behalf for something I didn't do.

The real point is, where is the cut off ? What should we have to apologise for ? Should Germany have to keep apologising for World War Two, should America apologise to Spain for their wars 100 years ago ? Can we just learn from the past and see history as an important lesson on where we have gone wrong ? An apology from the UK might seem important, but is an apology from a government, like the UK, which fights slavery as important as a lack of action from a number of African governments which allows slavery to continue ?

Real action today speaks louder than words.

P.S. I see Neil Woollcott has written on a similar theme. Great minds think alike.


Rob said...

It does seem strangely quaint that apologies are expected from western countries for things perpetuated against non western countries but other western countries don't expect the same of each other.

That said, there are plenty of people willing to persecute jews still, sometimes with the excuse that they killed Jesus.

Gary Elsby-Stoke said...

Because we did those things hundreds of years ago. Simple. Labour wasn't around at that time and so it wouldn't have happened. It is the most disgusting thing this Country has ever undertaken and nothing but a full apology will do. Gary

Steve Andrews said...

Presumably if we had had a socialist government instead of a Labour one we wouldn't have started a war in Iraq ?

If you are a socialist Gary, why not join a socialist party ?

Tristan said...

Just realised something:
If Labour had existed then they'd have tried to keep the slave trade. The unions would like it as it would prevent competition for jobs for their members in many areas...
Free the slaves and then they're free to change their jobs, thus threatening the union member's jobs (which would be in areas which slavery wasn't allowed, as a sop to the unions).

Anonymous said...

That might not necessarily be the case Tristan. Didn't the cotton workers in Lancashire support the North in the American Civil War even though it had serious knock on effects for the UK Cotton industry due to Confederate blockades.