So, we just passed the 22-year anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China and the 30-year anniversary of Tiananmen Square.

Pro-democracy protesters have begun to invoke British symbolism in their protests, but we need to recognise the degree of culpability Britain has in the current circumstances.

To begin with, we knew exactly what sort of society China was when we handed over Hong Kong and despite roughly two decades of negotiation and preparation we largely failed to reform the gerrymandered Legislative Council (where most seats are not directly elected) before the end of British rule. We failed to build the most basic safeguards into Hong Kong's political system that might have stopped or at least slowed Chinese encroachment and the stripping of basic freedoms. That stripping of freedom has been happening for a decade at least but it's being thrown into sharp relief now.

We, the British, imposed this on the people of Hong Kong without a referendum, without any real consultation and largely against their wishes. We told ourselves this was "de-colonisation" and patted ourselves on the back and the rest of Europe and the Americas nodded and agreed with us and told us how right it was for us to "give up" our colony and "return" it to China.

Fundamentally, that view was racist - we look at the Hong Hong Chinese and the people of Mainland China and we we think that because they look the same they are the same and they "belong together" when the truth is the people of Hong Kong were people of the Commonwealth, just like the Canadian, or the Australians, or the New Zealanders and indeed like the people of the Caribbean. They had a British-style civil society and British-style legal system, the same as us, and still do. These people expect the same freedoms you and I take for granted and most of the protesters were born with those freedoms - freedoms that are now being eroded by the PRC.

As a British citizen I am ashamed, and until the people of Hong Kong are free I will never again claim to be "Proud to be British".