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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 10:58 GMT
Head-to-head: Slavery 'sorrow'
Tony Blair
Mr Blair wrote of a profound shame for the slave trade
Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he feels "deep sorrow" for Britain's role in the slave trade in an article for the New Nation newspaper.

His statement which comes ahead of next year's bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, stopped short of a full apology and has divided opinions.

ESTHER STANFORD

Vice-chair of the Pan African Reparation Coalition

This statement of regret does not go far enough.

What is now required is a dialogue around how we repair the legacies of enslavement that continue to visit the descendents of enslaved Africans.

Reparation means to repair the harms. We are talking about educational repairs, economic repairs, family repairs, cultural repairs, repairs of every kind that we need to sustain ourselves. It will cost.

Compensation has to follow examining what have been the injuries.

I think before we rush to being emotive about whether this nation should compensate or not there needs to be a full disclosure of facts and we need to examine fully the injuries because any compensatory measures must redress and be proportionate to the harm.

There are still those benefactors of the profits of enslavement
Esther Stanford

Ultimately this nation has benefited extremely in financial and other terms in relation to African enslavement and colonisation so it is correct to hold this current government responsible.

There has not been succession, there are still those benefactors of the profits of enslavement.

If we do not deal with this now, it is tantamount to saying that you can commit crimes against humanity, against African people, and get away with it.

DAVID LAMMY

Culture minister

I think in Tony Blair's statement today he recognises that there is a legacy from this period of our history in Africa and that there is a legacy in relation to black people living in Britain.

Much of the Labour party, since its establishment, has been about fighting the business of inequality.

I don't want to get us into a blame fest
David Lammy

But as we look forward to next year what is important to me is that we have a bicentenary in which all groups can engage.

And that we can do that, commemorate the ordinary people who campaigned but also remember the many million of slaves that were shipped, that were moved and the many that died in that awful, awful trade.

It is true to say that we have not been great in this country at exploring and understanding this period of our history.

Tony Blair has gone further than any other leader of any western democracy in his statement but he has struck the right balance between providing for the future, commemorating the past and moving forward as a multi-ethnic nation.

I think the business of compensating is not particularly productive. I don't want to get us into a blame fest.

What I want is celebration, commemoration. I want dialogue, I want progress.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
A debate on the issue of reparations



SEE ALSO
Mixed response to slave 'sorrow'
27 Nov 06 |  UK Politics
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