Edinburgh's slave trade apology is well warranted - Angus Robertson

Edinburgh has taken the historic step of apologising for its past participation in the slave trade and colonialism. Scotland’s cities, as key outposts of the British Empire, were involved in the UK’s colonialism project, which saw great atrocities committed.

Sir Geoff Palmer received the Edinburgh Award for his human rights campaigning and contribution to academia earlier this year
Sir Geoff Palmer received the Edinburgh Award for his human rights campaigning and contribution to academia earlier this year

The apology, given on behalf of the City by Lord Provost Robert Aldridge, was one of the recommendations offered from a review set up in 2020 chaired by Scotland’s first black professor, Sir Geoff Palmer, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Heriot-Watt Chancellor was also recognised for his work earlier this year having been the recipient of the Edinburgh Award for his human rights campaigning and contribution to academia.

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Unquestionably, it is right that we remember our history – good or bad – and learn how it has shaped the society we are today. In our collective perpetual pursuit for justice and equality, acknowledging, understanding, and making amends for past wrongs is a really important thing to do.

As Sir Geoff said: “An apology doesn’t buy bread but it gives another form of sustenance. It is about feeling that somebody has looked at something and recognised it was wrong, […] that they regret what has happened”.

We have so many reasons to be proud of our great city: Scotland’s capital. Nonetheless, this apology will help us look to the future and how we as custodians can create a place where all our valued and our sense of ‘place’ is educated and introspective.

Thanks to Councillors and the Lord Provost for their participation in the apology and am glad to see such a warm reception for this action by people from across Edinburgh