Letter: Ancient blame

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James Rampton writes, about the slave-trade forts on the West African coast, "Visiting the forts ... is a profound confrontation with one of the most shameful periods of European history" ("Darkness still visible", Review, 5 May). As a European I cannot feel personal shame about this trade as it was conducted solely by royalty or those connected with royalty, members of the aristocracy, and individuals wealthy enough to hire and crew ships engaged in this appalling trade.

Ordinary citizens were in many cases little better off than the slaves. People were executed, or transported for life, for very minor crimes, even for stealing food when they were starving. They had no political rights so they were quite unable to stop this trade. I feel that blame and shame should be applied where it belongs, even to descendants if they continue to benefit from wealth accumulated by forebears.

I also take exception to your headline "Britain set to wreck EU summit" (5 May). The present Conservative government does not have a mandate from the people in that it did not win a majority of votes. Your headline should read that the Conservative Party is set to wreck EU summit, for its own party-political purposes.

M Abrahams

Hove, East Sussex