Blair Rejects Prescott View of Slavery as 'Marxist Analysis'

The Evening Standard (London, England), March 23, 2007 | Go to article overview

Blair Rejects Prescott View of Slavery as 'Marxist Analysis'


Byline: JASON BEATTIE

JOHN PRESCOTT and Tony Blair clashed today over William Wilberforce's role in the abolition of slavery.

The Deputy Prime Minister said too much attention had been focused on the former Tory MP's contribution to ending the transatlantic trade.

He said that "working people" were the main drivers behind the campaign which saw the slave trade abolished 200 years ago.

"Public opinion made the change and forced the change on parliament. We have fed into our minds that a Christian from Hull, William Wilberforce, came along and changed the law in 1807. It was remarkable, but the real change came from working people," Mr Prescott told the Guardian.

But Mr Blair rejected Mr Prescott's "Marxist analysis" and praised the way people such as Wilberforce had brought about the abolition. In a Downing Street webcast with historian Simon Schama, Mr Blair said the campaign to end the slave trade was "very much about individuals taking a very strong view".

Mr Prescott used the interview to throw his weight behind an annual memorial day in Britain to recognise the "pain" of the country's black population. …

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