Express & Star

Enoch Powell: Results are in on blue plaque poll as more than 20,000 have their say

More than 20,000 people had their say in an Express & Star poll over whether Enoch Powell should be recognised with a blue plaque.

Enoch Powell

The online poll – one of the biggest in the newspaper's history – closed yesterday with 70 per cent of people backing the plaque.

It comes after the Wolverhampton Civic and Historical Society revealed it had received an application for a plaque for Powell, who was a Tory MP in the city for 24 years.

In recent days a number of people have contacted the society offering to pay the £1,000 required to fund it.

Enoch Powell

The issue has seen a wide range of opinions expressed.

Many of those who are against the idea have objected to Powell's notorious Rivers of Blood speech in 1968, in which he warned of the dangers of mass immigration.

The city's three Labour MPs – Emma Reynolds, Pat McFadden and Eleanor Smith – have all declared their opposition to a plaque, as has former Conservative MP Paul Uppal and the Bishop of Wolverhampton, Clive Gregory.

More on the Enoch Powell blue plaque storm:

He warned that erecting a plaque for Powell would be tantamount to 'honouring his racist views', while Wolverhampton North East MP Ms Reynolds said it would 'send out all the wrong messages' about the city.

Supporters of a Powell plaque say he should be remembered for more than just one speech, and that he deserves to be recognised due to his station as arguably the city's most famous ever politician.

They include Nigel Hastilow, who was dumped as a parliamentary candidate for the Tories in 2007 after he wrote a newspaper column featuring the statement 'Enoch Powell was right'.

'Towering figures'

In a recent article supporting a plaque for Powell, Mr Hastilow wrote: "Enoch Powell fought to maintain our freedoms and became one of the towering figures of the 20th century.

"Would anyone seriously deny such a significant politician a little blue plaque marking his links to Wolverhampton?"

The society is set to discuss the plans at a meeting in July, with the six-strong committee likely to vote on the proposal some time next year.

In Powell's Rivers of Blood speech, delivered at the Midland Hotel on April 20, 1968, he claimed constituents had told him that Britain would not be worth living in as a result of mass immigration.

It was delivered in reaction to Labour's anti-discrimination Race Relations Bill, which was being proposed at the time.

The following day the then Conservative leader Edward Heath sacked Powell from the shadow cabinet, triggering a protest strike and march by London dockers in support of the MP.