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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 06:41 GMT
Blair apologises for slave trade
slaves shackled together - still from a painting
Does a national apology mean anything? E-mail us
Breakfast's main story this morning is the Prime Minister's expression of regret for Britain's role in the slave trade two centuries ago.

In today's edition of the black newspaper New Nation, Tony Blair expresses his "deep sorrow" for the trade 200 years ago.

The trade - transporting black slaves from Africa over the Atlantic - brought huge wealth to British sea ports such as Liverpool and Bristol.

The apology comes ahead of a formal announcement on how to mark the 200th anniversary of its abolition next year.

This morning on Breakfast:

  • We debated the value of apologies for events in the distant past - with historian Anthony Beevor and Esther Stanford of the Pan African Reparations Coalition
  • Esther's ancestors were traded as slaves - and she's well aware that her surname was originally that of a slave trader from Barbados.

    What you told Breakfast
    I find the thought of an official apology demeaning... History has many other examples to be apologised for: Viking raids; Roman invasion, Norman invasion.
    Adrienne May, Norfolk
    As a descendant of African slaves I feel robbed of my true identity, An apology is a start but there is a long way to go.
    Dean Walters

    "An apology is just the start," she told us. She'd also like to see reparations for the loss of language, culture and heritage suffered by many descendants of African slaves.

    But Anthony Beevor believes that an apology means nothing unless it comes from the relevant person:

    "How can Tony Blair or any government apologise for something for which they were not responsible?"

  • And we talked to the government's culture minister David Lammy

    Slave trade apology
    Reports from our political correspondents Terry Stiastny and Reeta Chakrabarti

    BBC Breakfast


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