Former MP Michael Portillo visits region to learn about Windrush

A touch of Parliament came to the region as part of a television series.

Patrick Vernon said Michael Portillo had wanted to understand more about the Rivers of Blood speech. Photo: @ppvernon
Patrick Vernon said Michael Portillo had wanted to understand more about the Rivers of Blood speech. Photo: @ppvernon

Television presenter and former MP Michael Portillo paid a visit to the Heritage Centre, in Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton, on Saturday as part of his Great British Railway Journeys series.

Mr Portillo met members of the centre to talk to them about the Windrush Generation and the legacy of Enoch Powell's Rivers of Blood speech, which was written at the Heritage centre when it was Mr Powell's constituency office.

Michael Portillo sat with members of the Heritage Centre to learn about Windrush. Photo: @ppvernon

He sat and spoke with Karl Samuels, Alicia Spence, Bishop Llewellyn Graham, Junior Hemans, Professor Mel Chevannes CBE and doctor Patrick Vernon OBE as part of a section of a episode heading to Kidderminster.

Social activist and Windrush campaigner Mr Vernon said it has been a symbolic talk by Michael Portillo about a speech which carries impact more than 60 years later.

Mr Vernon said: "He said he felt he wanted to demystify the Enoch Powell speech and wanted to clarify it, particularly the impact of the speech as it led to an increase in hate crimes against black people in a particular period.

"It also reinforced the casual policies of segregation, with a specific policy by Wolverhampton Council in the 1960s limiting the number of black and Asian children in school classrooms because of speech given about immigration.

"I said to Michael that one of the reasons we still have such a fascination about it is the way it has influenced politicians across all parties."

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