Sunday, November 26, 2006

Blair Apologises

No. Not for Iraq. He is going to apologise for the massacre of prisoners at the Battle of Agincourt. Henry V's order, as recorded by Shakespeare, in Act 4 Scene 6, "Then every soldier kill his prisoners. Give the word through" will be condemned by Blair in a keynote speech....No.... only joking. This morning's Observer reports that he is to aplogise for the slave trade, and he will express "deep sorrow" that it happened. He will describe the slave trade as a "crime against humanity". Well, that's true enough; and we ought to be truthful about such things. Blair might consider being equally truthful about the atrocities committed within living memory by British forces in various colonial wars around the world e.g. in Kenya (see Caroline Elkin's "Britain's Gulag"). It would be far better for the British to come to terms with their imperial history rather than , as Gordon Brown did not so long ago, glorify the empire (in January 2005 Brown said that Britain should stop apologising for its colonial past). In fact, Politaholic has little patience for this mania for "apologising" especially for far distant events (the slave trade was outlawed in 1807). How can someone reasonably apologise for something which happened before their grandfather was born and for which they obviously bear no responsibility ? The slave trade was obviously a truly dreadful crime: but Blair had nothing to do with it. All this is cheap "gesture politics". It would make more sense for Blair to apologise for something for which he does bear some responsibility. Like Iraq. Or to give his support to the outlawing of cluster bombs....It is what politicians do in the here-and-now that matters, not cost-free empty apologies for long-gone events.


Blogger Gracchi said...

Yes! Great post- can't think of anything to add to it so I'm just going to agree.

6:34 pm  

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