A reparations motion brought by Green Councillor Cleo Lake has passed today at a Bristol Council meeting, making Bristol the first UK core city to back the campaign for reparations. The motion was created in collaboration with reparations campaigners and Bristol’s Labour group.
Responding to the outcome of the meeting, Councillor Lake said:
“It is of international significance that this cross party motion has passed. History is made. Bristol is now the first core city in the UK to give our support to the growing campaign for reparations. I’d like to thank the campaigners from the Stop the Maangamizi campaign and Afrikan ConneXions Consortium who have been working on this for several years, former Green MEP and Lambeth Councillor Scott Ainslie, and Bristol’s Labour Deputy Mayor Asher Craig who helped to bring the Labour group on side so we could ensure this motion passed.
“But now the speeches have been made, the real work will begin and it’s up to all of us to deliver on the fine words in this motion. I hope to see our Mayor soon taking the key demand – requesting an All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for reparations – to the government, as voted for by councillors at today’s meeting. Bristol Council needs to explore how as a Council we can create a fairer local economy through policies that support community wealth building. And all of us, including whoever is Bristol’s Mayor after May, need to work with and support our Afrikan heritage community organisations going forwards in creating a Bristol Reparations Plan.
“Today the Council has voted to start a national conversation and re-examine our past. I want to be very clear this is not about rewriting history, but rather about casting a bright light on it. Instead of clinging to comforting myths about Britain’s heritage, let’s face up to the reality of our history – let’s talk about it – and let’s learn from that to create a better future for all of us.”
Speaking at the meeting, the leader of the Green Group, Councillor Eleanor Combley said:
“Committing to reparations and an All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry is not a final step, after which everything will magically be okay. But it is an important step in the right direction. It will allow us, together, to lift the bonnet and look honestly and with courage at how we got to where we are. And knowing that will enable us to make a start on repairing the harm it has done us all.”
Also speaking in support of Cleo’s motion, fellow Green Councillor Jerome Thomas said:
“The Germans have a word for dealing with their racist legacy: ‘Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung’, which translates as ‘working off the past’ to describe how they have come to terms with Nazism. The Journalist Sathnam Sanghera writes about how they have done this. He notes that:
“The British use the past to comfort themselves, whereas the Germans use their history to think about the future.”
“That is an important lesson for us; in the light of the extraordinary suffering, it is entirely inappropriate to use our past to comfort ourselves, but we can use our history positively to think about our future, and also to act now to address the injustices accumulated over generations that impact people so powerfully today.”