Thought experiment: if the present government went back in time to 1807 and the proposition before the house was to abolish
slavery the slave trade in the British Empire, what would it do?
Naturally, things can’t be allowed to go on as before. But we must not be tempted by the simplistic solutions embraced by extremists on the other side. No. What we need to do here is bring all the stakeholders together and set out a course that is both radical and realistic. What we need is a one stop shop for slave regulation. OffSlave would limit the size and weight of fetters, the number of hours slaves could be forced to work, the variety and severity of punishments they could be subjected to and similar matters.
It’s all very well to talk of freeing slaves. But this gets dangerously close to libertarian claptrap. You can’t just talk about a right to freedom, without considering what responsibilities these freed slaves owe to the rest of us. This is why we’re ending the old fashioned process of manumission. Simply freeing slaves on an idle deathbed whim no longer meets the needs of the community. Nor does having one man control thousands of human chattels. Instead, we propose to give more people access to slaveholding through the slave in the community scheme. This would extend the opportunities for slave ownership across society and give the slaves themselves the opportunity to gain wider experience with a view to their eventual release as fully rounded, active citizens.
Slavery simply cannot continue in its present form. We need a new slavery – a slavery capable of adapting to the challenges of the global economy. A slavery fit for purpose in the fast changing 19th century. A slavery for the many, not the few.