Ignoring his past

images (212)This week while Labour and Jeremy Corbyn have been enjoying our city and holding debates, or in some cases avoiding them, the Prime Minister was in Jamaica trying to explain why he will ignore the part we played in pillaging the Island and enslaving its residents. We overran the Island 360 years ago, displacing the Spanish who had been occupiers for the previous 161 years. Although the nation gained its Independence from our control during the Premiership of Harold Macmillan, the last 53 years of freedom have hardly scratched the surface of the previous 521 of occupation. The fact that Cameron is related to a Jamaican slave owner does not appear to have made him more sensitive to this blot in our past. His 6th cousin, General Sir James Duff, MP for Banffshire (1784-89) received £4,100 for 202 slaves he forfeited in 1833 on the Grange Sugar Estate in Jamaica. Cameron claims he won’t discuss reparations because he wants to focus on the future, not the past. He said “that is what the visit is about, it’s talking about the future.” However he announced he will build a £25M prison on the Island to allow up to 300 Jamaicans to be repatriated and imprisoned, rather than accommodated in one of the prisons in the UK. One suspects that the irony of a British prison on an Island that has a long history of British slavemasters breaking up families and whole communities will not be lost on local residents. Particularly when the announcement has been made by a Prime Minister who is a distant relative of someone who once ‘owned’ 202 slaves. This is no way of looking forward for the Island or even for our nation. The fact that Cameron is using our foreign aid budget to build a prison it is a matter that many of us find extremely disturbing. There can be no argument for the use of this budget to build a prison unless the prison is going to be an exemplar of rehabilitation for those who are imprisoned. Sadly rehabilitation is not something that our state is very good at achieving with its recent history of breaking up the probation service and its failure to adequately support the voluntary sector that has proven so effective in this work.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Justice Issues, Parliament and Democracy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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