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Cheers - AE

Monday, 16 November 2009

Sorry Kevin and Sorry Gordon are both very sorry.

Headline in the The Telegraph:
Australia to say sorry to abused British child migrants.
Headline in Adelaide Now (via The Australian and
UK PM to apologise to Aussie kids.
From the former:
On Monday, the Australian government will say sorry to the thousands of children deported there during the twentieth century.
Meanwhile, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, will this week say he is to look into what can be done to make amends to all the children who were shipped to Australia, Canada and other former colonies, in schemes undertaken by successive governments up until 1967.
The children were separated from their families and told they were orphans, while the parents were told that they had gone to a better life. But most were brought up in institutions, or by farmers, and many were treated as child slave labour.
The Australian government will formally apologise at a special remembrance event in Canberra.
A ceremony will be held in Parliament House where the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will say sorry, on behalf of the nation, to those who suffered abuse. Following the event, the apology will be tabled in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

From the latter:
BRITISH Prime Minister Gordon Brown is preparing an apology for thousands of children shipped off to Australia and other Commonwealth countries last century.

Details of his plan were revealed on the eve of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology to the half a million “forgotten” child migrants sent to Australia from the 1920s until the late 1960s, many of whom were mistreated in orphanages and institutions.

The BBC reported today that Brown wanted to apologise for Britain's former child migrants program, which sent thousands of children to Commonwealth countries including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Many were separated from their families and often wrongly told they were orphaned and so were being sent off to a “better life” overseas.

However, thousands ended up in institutions or were forced to work as farm labourers.

I can see why Gordon's gone for this. I mean the grinning mutation, Gordon's predecessor and former boss, apologised for Britain's role in slavery despite (a) Britain's role in ending slavery (b) Britain's long wait from nations whose people once enslaved Britons and (c) nobody wanting to acknowledge that there was a fair bit of Africans enslaving
other Africans going on. It made him look sincere and statesman like* and Gordon must surely crave that as much as he must hate his lack of success in that area, getting snubbed by Obama and having the G20 tell him to fuck off with his silly ideas. And then along comes Sorry Kevin Rudd, who had barely won the 2007 Federal election before apologising to Australia's indigenous people for the Stolen Generation and seeming to be domestically popular as a result, with something new to be sorry for. This time he's going to say sorry to people who as British children were lied to and put on boats to countries far from what had been home, and who were often treated like skivvies or worse when they got there, and Gordon seems to want in on it.

Personally I find the whole government apology thing at best odd and at worst simple gesture politics. For Phoney Tony the equation was slavery bad = apology good = some votes in it. Similarly Sorry Kevin noticed that most of the country felt that the Aborigines were treated pretty badly and was aware that nobody had ever officially said that it was A Bad Thing, and so an election pledge to say sorry was likely to go down well. Now I'm not Kevin Rudd's biggest fan but I'll give him some credit here - although he apologises for things that aren't really the fault of his or any other recent Australian government at least in both cases here he's talking about stuff from the fucking 20th Century. What Blair was sorry about officially ended in 1834 and was on the way out much earlier (it was also not accompanied by a similar apology to Ireland for the 1800 Act of Union presumably because the Irish were just too white, though since Anglo-Irish people would have been getting an apology on behalf of themselves it's probably just as well). Still, I can't help feeling that it's largely gesture politics. It might be meaningful to some but it costs the politician nothing and has no obvious practical benefit for those wronged. How many disadvantaged black people descended from African slaves had their lives suddenly transformed for the better as a result of Blair's apology? I'd say somewhere around none. And despite the much more recent circumstances how many Aborigines are better off because of Sorry Kevin's apology? Similar number I'd expect. Christ knows that they're disadvantaged compared to white Australians by just about any measure you care to use but tackling that looks hugely problematic, not to mention potentially costly both in money and in votes if you fuck it up. I'm not saying it's wrong to say sorry but when you come down to it it's just words. From the hearts of our bottoms, we're truly sorry and overcome with wossname, honest... meh! An apology risks little and costs less, and this is something that may well have occurred to Gordon Brown shortly before jumping aboard the Sorry Express.

Frankly it's probably too little too late for Sorry Gordon, especially as Sorry Kevin beat him to it. And But I'm sure I won't be the only one asking why, instead of making these official apologies, Sorry Kevin and Sorry Gordon aren't demanding that the so-called charities and religious organisations who lied and told these poor children that they'd been orphaned and sent them off to what for many were lives of back breaking work, physical abuse and buggery, the bastards responsible in other words, stand up and apologise.
According to the BBC documentary "Children of the Empire", aired in 2003, a number of leading charities and agencies such as Barnardos, the Fairbridge Society and The National Children's Homes co-operated in maintaining the policy for almost six decades despite warnings from independent inspectors.
The respective governments may bear some guilt by association since the whole shipping kids business suited both at the time, but neither forced lies to be told or demanded the awful conditions that some found themselves in. Don't say sorry, Kev and Gordo, except perhaps to acknowledge that someone in power should have noticed and stopped it. Grow some balls, name some names and fucking call 'em on it.

On a bit of a tangent I noticed Adelaide Now also mentioned Britain's Health Select Committee and its chairman, a certain Mr Kevin Barron.
The committee's chairman, Kevin Barron, who headed an inquiry into what happened to child migrants, told the BBC he was “very pleased” by Mr Brown's letter.
Second time this weekend I'd seen his name on teh interwebs. Dick Puddlecote and The Devil were calling him names for this: individuals we can see the need for intervention in all our communities... We are the state's representative in our constituencies and we should not be frightened of taking decisions on behalf of our constituents, because that is to the general good.
This is just fucking typical of the kind of paternalistic, authoritarian, freedom hating spunk bubbles that are in Westminster these days. How easily they forget that they were elected not to rule but to serve. Cunts.

UPDATE: Hey, shouldn't it really be the heads of state giving and receiving the apologies on behalf of their respective nations? Of course that's actually the same person but I'd pay money to see Betty Windsor having to talk to herself.

* Well, to Gordo maybe. I thought it made him look like a patronising wanker trying to suck up to people for something that was over long before even his grandfather was born.
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