Much has been done over the centuries in the name of Empire. But none can be as cruel and heartless as the exploitation of children to further the nation’s aims. This hideous practice has been happening, according to the Child Migrants Trust, for over 400 years right up until 1970. Young children that, through no fault of their own, ended up in orphanages were at risk of being exported like a common commodity to places as far away as Australia to keep those places supplied with cheap labour. Not only that the cost of looking after these children was greatly reduced when they could be sent abroad to earn their keep.
One of the other main drivers for this practice, if not the main driver, was to keep the white race predominant, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. From the Child Migrants Trust web-site:
"At a time when empty cradles are contributing woefully to empty spaces, it is necessary to look for external sources of supply. And if we do not supply from our own stock we are leaving ourselves all the more exposed to the menace of the teeming millions of our neighbouring Asiatic races."
His Grace the Archbishop of Perth, welcoming British child migrants shipped to Australia, August 1938.
But in the process many of them were physically, mentally and sexually abused. Not a good advertisement for our civilised country. It is appalling that this has taken so long to address this, even with the Child Migrant Trust tirelessly campaigning to keep this in the public eye for 20 years.
It may surprise many to know that two writers on this site could have been victim to this, what can only be described as, atrocity.
The children were all lied to. Not only were they all told they were off to a bright future, they were also told that their parents were dead and there was no-one in the world to look after them and care for them. The world has not become so different in the last few decades that we care more for children now than then. Mothers and fathers cared as much for their children then as now. So those in authority should have had the same care for these children as they had for their own. Why did they ask no questions?
This is a national disgrace and apologies are due to the living survivors. The odd full British passport would not be amiss either, especially as they were born here!
I don't like to end on a down note, especially with something as heart-rending as this, but as a sceptic of all things political I have to question 'why the apology now?' Is Gordon tapping into the unexpected positive feedback to the letters he sends out to the service bereaved?