Express & Star

Enoch Powell: Wolverhampton MPs against 'deeply divisive' city plaque

Wolverhampton's three MPs have joined forces to oppose 'deeply divisive' plans for a blue plaque commemorating the life of Enoch Powell.

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Wolverhampton's three Labour MPs Eleanor Smith, Pat McFadden and Emma Reynolds

The city's Civic and Historical Society has announced it is to consider an application for a plaque for the former MP for Wolverhampton South West.

But Labour MPs Pat McFadden, Emma Reynolds and Eleanor Smith say they vehemently oppose the idea.

It came after two thirds of more than 11,000 respondents to an Express & Star poll said Powell should have a plaque.

Vote in the poll here:

Powell was an MP in the city for 24 years. He rose to notoriety with his Rivers of Blood speech in 1968, which led to accusations he was attempting to stir up racial tensions.

Wolverhampton North East MP Ms Reynolds said: "I feel very strongly that there should not be a blue plaque for Enoch Powell in Wolverhampton.

"His ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968 sought to sow division but thankfully all of his predictions have been proved wrong.

"Today Wolverhampton is a friendly, welcoming and inclusive city.

"Huge progress has been made to improve relations between different communities.

"A blue plaque would send out all the wrong messages about Wolverhampton.”

Enoch Powell with his wife Pamela

Wolverhampton South West MP Ms Smith said: "50 years on from the River of Blood speech Wolverhampton has become a thriving city which embraces diversity.

"Having a plaque to celebrate Enoch Powell could divide the city and my belief is that a plaque placed in the Wolverhampton should only recognise those who have made positive contributions to the city.

"I’m not alone in expressing this view, former Conservative MP Paul Uppal has also stated that it is time to move on from the speech.”

Mr McFadden, the MP for Wolverhampton South East, said: “This is a very bad idea. Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech was divisive in its content and wrong in its predictions.

"In the fifty years since it was made Wolverhampton has successfully become a multi-faith and multi-ethnic city.

"That success is down to many people over the years who have worked so hard to bring people together and to show that whatever our backgrounds we have more in common than anything which sets us apart.

"To erect a plaque in Enoch Powell’s honour would be deeply divisive within the city and would send a terrible signal externally.

"We should market our city on the basis not of what happened fifty years ago but on the present and future, which is a city confident in its diversity and open to everyone who wants to make a positive contribution.”