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Slavery? Us?

A weekly column reproduced from the Bristol Evening Post

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The Reverend Jesse Jackson has decided that it’s time we apologised for slavery. Yes, us, the people of Bristol.

Never mind that we were late into the game and one of the first to get out of it. Never mind that those jolly old, happy-go-lucky Liverpudlians made more money out of it than any of the Merchant Venturers. (Scousers in criminal behaviour, shock horror.)

Never mind that the Africans were wheeling and dealing in their own mates long before we ever got involved. Never mind that in some places, they still are. Nope, it’s us who have to apologise. Oh, and by the way, a few bob in compensation wouldn’t go amiss.

And there’s the rub. There wouldn’t be much point asking a poor West African dictatorship for compensation, would there? All you’d get is a bag of rice and one of the President’s ten-year-old Cadillacs. No, let’s take it out on Western Europe. They’ve still got a few bob, even if they are wasting it all on buying widescreen televisions for asylum seekers..

So get ready for the mass whip-round. Workers from the city council’s Slavery and Middle-Class White Guilt Unit will be calling at every home during the next week to collect your contribution. Guardian readers have to pay double. Anyone called Harvey, Wills or Pinney has to hand back a plantation. The local Tories, I’m told, have kindly offered to auction off their pet Golliwog.

The police helicopter will be hovering over Redland, Montpelier and Clifton Village with specially-trained, curiously-bearded grief counsellors on board should anyone of a sensitive nature be overcome with remorse. So dig deep, and let’s get this sorted for once and all.

Then we can sue the Romans.

On a similar subject, I am confused by Jack Straw’s decision to pay £36 million in “reparations” to Zimbabwean farmers driven from their properties by President Mugabe’s thugs.

For a start, I foolishly thought that we had a Parliament to make decisions like this on our behalf. Secondly, why are we giving the money to Mugabe to hand out? Don’t we run the risk of it “disappearing” into the pockets of arms manufacturers and the garters of Johannesburg lap-dancers?

There’s more…