Calls are growing in the Scottish media for Glasgow to apologise for its alleged historical inks to the slavery. Although the city – unlike some English cities – had no direct involvement in the slave trade, supporters of a call for Glasgow to apologise claim that the city benefited because the 'Tobacco Lords' accumulated wealth as a result of slavery.
Last week, Chris Dolan, a Scottish author who has written a book about white workers on Caribbean plantations, said that a public apology by Glasgow for its connections to the slave trade "would be beneficial". Mr Dolan claimed that a Glasgow apology would indicate that the city is willing to own up to its history, adding that the upcoming Commonwealth games in the city in 2014 would be the perfect platform to stage an apology.
Later in the week, the Glaswegian comedienne Elaine C Smith added her voice to a growing number calling for an apology from Glasgow. Baillieston-born Ms Smith said that she had been moved to speak after watching the film Lincoln
in the cinema. The former Rab C Nesbitt star added:
"Half of Glasgow was built on the back of slavery [...] Confessing to our past as a nation is also important in the run-up to the referendum, which to me is all about becoming a grown-up country that's as good and as bad as other nations in the world, rather than the beatific one that's apart from all others.
We need to get out of that collective permanent adolescence, where we always blame our parents for everything. I think an apology would show we are a nation ready to look at itself and acknowledge what we were responsible for. Imagine what kind of country we might have become had Robert Burns gone to manage the plantations."
Other voices have since joined the call for Glasgow to apologise, although some commentators prefer to point to the prominent role Glaswegians played in the eventual abolition of the slave trade. Still others say that an apology would be pointless and achieve nothing.