Glasgow council city today moved to issue an apology on behalf of the city for its role and part in the slave trade.

Councillor leader Susan Aitken put forward an amendment to offer an apology following a report which examined in detail the city’s connection and subsequent wealth from the transatlantic slave trade.

The amendment to the report brought before the council was raised by Councillor Aitken to include an immediate apology and was supported and agreed by the chamber.

Read more: Eight Glasgow statues singled out for links to slave trade, report revealed

Councillor Aitken told the chamber the report could be the most significant in the council’s term, adding: “It uncovers and elucidates in greater detail than ever before a part of Glasgow’s history that this city has often marginalised or downplayed. It can no longer be ignored and the amendment that I am moving today asks us to do three things to acknowledge, apologise and to act. We have long known much of the source of the wealth of which Glasgow was built. We knew but up until recently didn’t think much about what it really meant and we brushed aside the voices trying to tell us.

“In our recent era when other cities were sincerely grappling with their role in chattel slavery, our city was still glorifying it naming the Merchant City barely a decade before Liverpool issued an apology for the type of things we are her discussing today.

“Follow the Atlantic slavery money trail and its tentacles reach into every corner of Glasgow. The predecessor organisation of this very council borrowed and invested money to the equivalent of millions of pounds that directly came from and contributed to chattel slavery. It’s clear what this report tells is that the blood of trafficked and enslaved African people, their children and their children’s children is built into the very bones of this city. Glasgow’s history to the present day echoes to the crack of the plantation overseers lash. Chattel slavery stands as one of the most heinous crimes in human history and Glasgow was complicit and for that we apologise today, unreservedly, without excuses, justifications or attempts at self-congratulation of the type we have too often employed in the past.”

Read more: 62 Glasgow street names and areas with links to slave trade

She said many will ask what good an apology will do, adding that it can’t change the past and no one alive today took part in chattel slavery.

“Many who are alive today still live with the legacy of racism whose roots can be traced directly back to what was white supremacy codified in law and the country’s whose populations were stolen and enslaved suffer still. An apology tells them that finally we are trying to understand,” she added.

The ammendment was seconded by Councillor Graham Campbell, chairman of the council's cross party working group on slavery, who said: "This is a historically unprecedented statement and I am in the position of being both able to support this ammendment to make this offer of an apology on behalf of the city, but also to partyly accept the apology on behalf of African and Caribbean descedants as the first one present in this chamber.

"Perhaps the 40 Lord Provosts mentioned in the report who got their wealth from ill gotten gains would never have anticipated someone like me would be here. Why are we remembering and what is the purpose of doing this? We have had organised forgetting of the record of Glasgow's involvement in chattel slavery. We have now got the historic evidence and it is now up to us as citizens to see what we can do with that information - how we teach the legacy of chattel slavery. 

"Slavery and colonialism are the origins of the racism we face today - how people think, the stereotypes and prejudices are derived from that time."

Councillor Campbell said the 2020 Black Lives Matter protest shows that there is a racism problem in the city which is why measures have had to be taken. This apology is just a first step and is part of the journey not the end."

Labour group leader, Councillor Malcolm Cunning said there had been decades of denial of the city's slave trade connections and that it was given little mention in the school books of the past.

He said: "It has taken far too long to realise that deep-seated, interwoven legacy of slavery in Glasgow. We now need to say how do we go foward, what do we do now and how do we make our apology and acknowledgement in the 21st century."

Greens Councillor Kim Long said they welcomed and supported the report, adding: "It is especially important for us to note the impact and the leadership of the first black councillors elected to this chamber. It is crucial for us as a city to move from the stance of we didn't know, to we do know."

The city council commissioned report, led by Dr Stephen Mullen, an academic historian with the University of Glasgow, singled out eight Glasgow statues of individuals with connections to the slave trade. 

It added that gifts from those linked to the trade amounted to more than £300 million in today’s money, with a bequest that would amount to £110m for the Mitchell Library in 1874.

The monuments to Colin Campbell, William Gladstone, John Moore, David Livingstone, James Oswald, Robert Peel Jnr, James Watt and King William III are all highlighted in the report

The report also highlights 62 Glasgow streets and locations with connections to Atlantic slavery. These include Buchanan Street, named after Andrew Buchanan Jr, and Glassford Street, after tobacco lord John Glassford.

Between 1636 and 1834, 40 out of  79 lord provosts nominated to Glasgow Town Council had some connection to Atlantic slavery, and some sat in office whilst owning enslaved people.