Sunday 13 February 2022

Did slavery or colonies make Britain rich? No.

An article in the Spectator by Sam Ashworth-Hayes shows that neither slaves nor colonies made England rich, should you have thought they did.

"And for the country as a whole, the Caribbean colonies were not profitable. They functioned because the government levelled tariffs on cheaper sugar produced by competing European powers, and because the costs of naval protection were borne by the taxpayer. British national income would arguably have been considerably higher if the colonies had been given away; this is a story repeated across the old Empire. So why did Britain bear these costs? Put simply because the interests of wealthy plantation owners and traders were well-represented in a Parliament where seats could be bought."


  1. This should settle it for once and for all.

  2. In fact, England made its colonies rich. Today, most former English colonies as well as former pseudo colonies which were in the English sphere of influence tend to do very well in terms of economic and societal development.

  3. According to Russian media reports, not denied by the UK side, Truss’s chilly encounter with her vastly more experienced Russian opposite number, Sergey Lavrov, included an exchange that went roughly like this.

    Truss: ‘Russia must move its troops away from the Ukrainian border, or else…’
    Lavrov: ‘Why should we? It’s up to Russia where it deploys its troops inside Russia’ (which, of course, it is). He then asked, for good measure: ‘Do you recognise Russia’s sovereignty over the Rostov and Voronezh regions?’ At which point Truss mounted her high horse and responded with all the authority of the UK’s chief diplomat: ‘The UK will never recognise Russia’s sovereignty over these regions.’

    This is where the UK’s ambassador to Moscow, Deborah Bronnert, is said to have leant across to Truss and discreetly informed her that these regions were actually in Russia.

    Liz Truss: an embarrassment to Britain
    12th February 2022

  4. Correct. British wealth came first from domestic farming (mostly English farming - farming in Scotland or Ireland did not tend to be very successful) and then from domestic industry. But children in school are taught that British wealth came from "the Empire" (which it did not - indeed such teaching gets cause and effect the wrong way round, Britain had a big Empire because it was rich, it was not rich because it had a big Empire - what even the Imperialist Disraeli called "wretched millstones" round the economic neck of the nation), and "slavery" - which made up a tiny part of the British economy.