Newham Recorder Big Debate: Should Britain pay reparations for its role in the Atlantic slave trade?

During David Cameron's recent visit to Jamaica, one issue in particular caused a great deal of controversy – reparations for the Atlantic slave trade. Jamaica's prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, raised the issue with Mr Cameron of compensation from the British government for the descendants of slaves. So we asked Festus Akinbusoye, 2015's Conservative candidate for West Ham: Should Britain pay reparations for its role in the Atlantic slave trade?

Festus Akinbusoye, West Ham Conservatives

As a British citizen born in Africa who also grew up with a knowledge of the shocking atrocity that was the slave trade, I vividly recall being taken by my father to the port from where slave ships sailed from Nigeria and the animalistic shackles with which human beings were chained before embarking on such perilous journeys to the Caribbean and then possibly to Britain.

It nevertheless struck me with incredulity when I read that the British Prime Minister was being asked to have this country pay billions in reparations to Jamaica during his trade visit of the Caribbean recently.

I was very delighted to see his forthrightness in saying Britain will not be paying any reparations while also acknowledging the barbarity of such a brutal commodification of human beings.

I was also glad that he highlighted the equally important reality of current day human slavery and Britain's role in tackling the scourge of international human trafficking.

That present day Brits are being required to pay for the evils of generations long since dead and in asking distant cousins, six times removed from a slave owning ancestor to atone for such acts would be the same as setting up my great, great, great grand children to be responsible for any odious crime I may commit during my lifetime.

(Just to be clear, I have no plans of committing any crime! At all.)

Britain is one of the few countries in the world that contributes 0.7% of its GDP in development aid and we have also contributed many billions of pounds in the past.

We should now focus on addressing the problems of today, while never forgetting the actions of the past.

I believe it's time we look at more practical ways of approaching the slavery legacy.

Reparations is not one of them.