Gladstone's slavery apology the 'biggest manifestation of white guilt you ever see'

The family of former Prime Minister William Gladstone have been accused of “spit-shining their halos” ahead of a visit to Guyana to apologise for his links to slavery.

Gladstone's education was funded by enslaved Africans working on his father’s sugar plantations in the Caribbean.

Six of his descendants are visiting the Caribbean as the country commemorates the 200th anniversary of a rebellion by enslaved people that historians say paved the way for abolition.

As well as offering an apology, the family intends making a payment of reparations to fund research into the impact of slavery.

However, in a debate with TalkTV’s Rosanna Lockwood, commentator Esther Krakue argued: “What strikes me is this is a very public kind of exercise of spit-shining their halos.

“If you're going to do this, why do we need to know about it? It's like giving a homeless person £10 and filming it and putting it on social media to show how virtuous you are.

"There were loads of people that were slaves in various parts of the world so where does this end? No-0one wants to answer that question because they know it is ludicrous and you’ll never have an end point.

“There are lots of Irish people that would like reparations, are you going to be the first in line to give them some?”

Ms Krakue argued these points in a panel with journalist Emily Sheffield and co-founder of left-wing political organisation Momentum, James Schneider.

Both Mr Schneider and Ms Sheffield argued differently, saying the trip is part of a larger conversation about colonialism.

Mr Scheider said: “It's important it's public because we're talking about it. We haven't wrestled with our colonial history. In the English speaking Caribbean, they really want to have this debate.

“It's important for them to know that lots of the wealth gathered up here was not by the majority of people in this country, but by a few very rich families off the backs of their ancestors.”

Nevertheless, Ms Krakue concluded: “This is the biggest manifestation of white guilt you ever see. And, you know, for me, it's an extension of white privilege.”