[The Independent] Richard Madeley is being criticised for his “vile” and “patronising” treatment of Guyana president Irfaan Ali on Wednesday’s (20 September) episode of Good Morning Britain.
Ali is set to address world leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York today about his belief that the UK needs to realise it “still benefits” from its historical role in slavery.
Hours before his address, the Guyana leader appeared on GMB via video link where Madeley appeared to grow angry with his guest over the suggestion that the royal family should offer to pay reparations to today’s generations.
When Madeley questioned why “someone who maybe had an ancestor seven or eight generations ago should… carry the burden” of past actions, Ali replied: “Oh, it’s not a burden at all. You are one of the beneficiaries of that slave trade, so this is not a burden.”
He continued: “You should be concerned and you should pay because you today still benefit from the greatest indignity to the human being, and that is the slave trade. And not only did you benefit during the slave trade, and your country develop, but look at what it cost the developing world.
“During slavery, resources were used to build your country, build up your capacity. You were able to then become competitive, able to invest in mechanisation and developing countries like ours were left behind. So you should be very concerned, because you are prime beneficiaries of exploits of slavery.”
Madeley, growing increasingly frustrated, asked: “One of the points that you’ll be making today is about our royal family, and you feel it’s not just about the finances involved for you in terms of reparations about slavery, it’s about gestures.”
Here, he slammed his hand on the desk in front of him, adding: “And you think the British royal family should make gestures, don’t you? What do you mean? Hand over a palace?”
Ali, keeping his cool, replied: “Well no, we don’t want the British to hand over a palace that we built.”
While Madeley could be heard laughing at Ali’s answer in the background, the president continued: “If you go to many of the palaces in Britain, you’ll see the lovely hard work from Guyana. You will see the sweat, tears and blood of the slaves who were exploited, and the revenue that was earnt from the exploitation. So we’re not asking for a palace; we’re asking for justice.”
Madeley has since been criticised not only for his questions, but the “vile” and “condescending” manner in which he asked them, and his reaction of slamming his hand on the table and laughing over Ali’s response.
Award-winning musician and film score composer Nitin Sawhney wrote on X/Twitter: “Madeley really is an arrogant, ignorant, patronising piece of work isn’t he? He addressed a president with mocking laughter and aggressive table thumping in response to a request for Britain’s historical exploitation of slave Labour to be acknowledged.”
@L_A_D_J added: ”Richard Madeley, a breakfast news show host, talking down to and mocking the PRESIDENT of another country with a pompous fake laugh. The f***ing disrespect and entitlement is insane.
Meanwhile, @TerrelleGraham wrote: Who does Richard Madeley think he is? Slamming his hand down on the desk and talking to the president of Guyana in such a rude and disrespectful manner. The subject matter of this discussion makes his behaviour even worse.”
The Independent has contacted Madeley’s representatives and ITV for comment.