The bicentenary of the abolition of slavery has received a lot of coverage in the media over the last couple of weeks. Much has been made of Tony Blair’s failure to apologise or more accurately his failure to apologise properly. I am sure that the Government’s lawyers have advised him in the same way that car insurance companies advise us never to accept liability even if it was clearly our fault . There are I am sure times when this might be good advice but it tends to feed a view of humanity that makes the lawyer the first rather than the last resort – good for the bank balance of the lawyer but bad news for our ability to deal with difficulties at a human level.
Great article in this morning’s Guardian by Jackie Kay reminding us of a shameful part of Scotland’s history that tends to be swept under the carpet. London, Bristol and Manchester are all hosting major events to commemorate the abolition of slavery. Glasgow, a city that prospered as result of the slave trade seems to be strangely silent. The reminders of the slave trade are all around Glasgow as the street names echo the names of tobacco merchants and the places in the West Indies where they made their fortunes.
My talented and creative colleagues at LTS have produced a wonderful resource to help teachers and learners to gain a better understanding of Scotland’s role in the slave trade and the abolition of slavery. Hopefully slavery in the form that was abolished 200 years ago will never be repeated in this country. In the meantime let’s not forget that 200 years on far too many people across the world continue to be enslaved in variety of different ways.
One last thought, I wonder what the British Prime Minister (if there still is such a post) will be asked to apologise for in 200 years time?