Protesters yesterday demanded that a Conservative MP hand over his 621-hectare sugar plantation to the people of Barbados as compensation for his family’s 200 years of slave ownership and trade on the island. Richard Drax, MP for Dorset South, has said the role of his ancestors was “deeply, deeply regrettable”, but opposes claims for compensation.
As part of this year’s Tolpuddle Festival, a gathering organized by Stand Up to Racism, Dorset, at the gate to the Drax family’s estate highlighted the family’s historic role in slavery. The festival celebrates Tolpuddle Martyrs, poorly paid agricultural workers who were transported in 1834 to organize trade union activities.
This is the first time the festival is working with repair activists. Hundreds of campaigns took part in yesterday’s “It’s Time, Mr Drax” meeting, the hottest day of the year so far.
Frances O’Grady, secretary general of the TUC, told the demonstration that Drax had a moral obligation to pay compensation to Barbados. “Sir. Drax should pay up now, ”she said, referring to the violence, rape and murder that came with Caribbean slavery.
The diverse and friendly, whose noisy march went around part of the “Great Wall of Dorset,” a three-mile wall surrounding Drax’s home in Charborough Park, eight miles from Tolpuddle.
Last December on Observer and Sunday mirror revealed that Drax personally controlled the Drax Hall plantation in Barbados, which his family has owned since 1650 and was worked by slaves for 200 years. We also unveiled Drax – said to enjoy one Downton Abbey lifestyle – is the wealthy landowner MP who is at least £ 150 million. worth, with a property of 22.5 square miles of Dorset and 125 properties including his 17th century mansion.
Nigel Costley, secretary of the South West TUC, told protesters: “No one can be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors. But Richard Drax still sits on the mountain of gold obtained by the horrors of slavery. It’s time he paid something back. ”
Speaking of Barbados MP Trevor Prescod: “Drax Hall has witnessed terrible pain and suffering – and people today still experience a disadvantage that results from generations of slavery.
“We ask Mr Drax to show moral leadership and discuss with us how we can tackle the legacy of slavery in movables.”
Grafton Shaker of Dorset Unite, who grew up in Barbados, said that as children they were taken to plantations for days out, “but we were never told about the horrors of slavery.”
The rally organizers say they repeatedly asked Drax to meet them so they could hand over a statement to him. They have not received an answer.