Would minority groups pay too?
I KNOW that many Ashford schools are taking the opportunity of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade to teach some of the history surrounding this terrible enterprise. At the same time we are marking the occasion with services of remembrance, and a debate in Parliament. It is absolutely right that we should look back and shudder at what happened in past times. Over 12 million people were transported and over two million died. We must draw some lessons from this. The most important of these lessons is that we should stop modern forms of slavery, the most prevalent of which is people trafficking, often for the sex industry. Ten years ago only 15 per cent of prostitutes were foreign born. Today the figure is 85 per cent, revealing the full extent of how girls and young women are enticed from poorer countries with offers of proper jobs and then forced into this modern slavery. We can do something about this. What seems to me completely pointless is for modern Britain to apologise for what British governments did more than 200 years ago. There is no moral purpose in apologising for something in which you took no part. Even more absurd is the idea of “reparations”. Who would be paying money to whom? Presumably, all of us as taxpayers would be paying extra so that our Government could give money to African governments. The absurdity of this idea is well illustrated by Ashford’s own population. The fastest growing minority group in our town are the Nepalese, ex Gurkha families. Why should they be responsible in any way for something that happened on the other side of the world from where their ancestors lived? Even more, why should our growing population of African origin have to pay? We should never forget evil things that have happened in our country’s history. But we should concentrate on correcting today’s wrongs, not yesterday’s.