‘On 26th July 1833 the Abolition of Slavery Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons. Slavery in the British colonies would be finally abolished. Three days later its key architect the William Wilberforce died. He devoted his entire public life to the pursuit of the ethical goal that all persons be treated as free and no person should be the financial chattel of another.
This great feat achieved by Wilberforce, who through heroic determination ignored abuse by the political elites of both sides of the House of Commons and big business who wanted to retain the practice and its financial benefits, established an honourable precedent throughout the world.
The very idea that a human being should become a slave for the financial gain of a mercenary or trafficker was no longer acceptable in the British Commonwealth.
Britain has always lead Europe and the world as a whole on major moral and democratic issues such as slavery and freedom of the individual. In the Brexit referendum we did so again. By voting to leave we will be placed an important precedent at the forefront of the campaign that democracy, sovereignty and liberty should be in the hands of the people not subcontracted to unelected international organisations. The movement was once again opposed by political elites of both sides of the House of Commons, Big business and foreign nations that did not wish Britain to be great, capable of using its talents to grow globally through international trade, science or its people but merely a weakened nation held down by the European Nation state dream.
Today another face extremism is rising that of the belief in White Privilege and cancel culture. In order to defeat it and bring back rationale debate about inequality in society we will once again need the courage of our convictions to ensure a sovereign parliament acts with sensibility and justice in the same way Wilberforce used to abolish slavery.
I have no doubt in my mind, whilst were we under EU rule many of the achievements of our political past would not have been achieved. I have equal concerns that if Parliament and the elites succumb to the latest fad of extremism then those achievement that have been gained will be lost once more.
Wilberforce’s close friend and ally for 50 years, Thomas Clarkson, wrote a masterful Essay on Slavery and Commerce, which concluded
“For if liberty is only adventitious right; if men are no means superior to brutes; if cruelty is to be highly esteemed; if murder is to be strictly honourable and Christianity a lie then it is evident that African slavery maybe pursued without either the remorse of conscience or the imputation of a crime.
But if the contrary be true which reason must immediately evince. It is evident that there is no custome established amongst men was ever more impious. Since it is contrary to reason, justice, nature, the principle of law and government, the whole doctrine in short of natural religion and the revealed voice of God”
The ethical case is beautifully set out in those words that every human being deserves a life free of slavery, has the right to be free and to ensure it remains the case we must harshly deal with the traffickers, be hard hearted in defence of the rule of law, strive assiduously and with determination to improve the living conditions in countries from where people flee through free and open trade, promotion of democracy. These principles led to the abolition of slavery and another brick in the road for inalienable human equality and justice.
The achievement of “white privileged” men to seek justice will be ignored and eventually perverted by the current campaigners who seek to achieve their goals with the methods of dictators and demagogues they avowedly protest are racist. We will never rid the world of evil people wishing to enslave another human being. All they do is change their garb, language and battleground. That battle is well and truly upon us and for another Wilberforce I pray returns.