Would mi­nor­ity groups pay too?

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPINION -

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.

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