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Plans to remember Enoch Powell with a blue plaque are scrapped after public outcry

Enoch Powell (pictured) was one of the 20th century’s most divisive British politicians after his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech

Controversial plans to commemorate Enoch Powell with a blue plaque in his former constituency have been scrapped after a public outcry.

Powell served Wolverhampton South West from 1950 to 1974 and became one of the 20th century’s most divisive British politicians after his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech on immigration in 1968.

Plans for the plaque were first revealed in February but now the Civic and Historical Society of Wolverhampton says the proposal has been shelved after committee members failed to come to an agreement.

The committee also believe that it would be impossible to find a suitable location for the plaque, after opponents had threatened to tear down or deface it. 

Blue plaques are unveiled at the homes or significant places of noteworthy people around the country.

According to the Express & Star in Wolverhampton, Society chairman Barry Hodgson said that the plaque’s unnamed backer had also dropped their support of the idea. 

He said: ‘As a committee we decided that because this issue had attracted such a lot of attention it was important that we reached a consensus.

‘No agreement was reached, with one of the major stumbling blocks being that finding a suitable location was impossible.

His Rivers of Blood speech warned of the dangers of mass immigration and said that it would lead to serious racial strife in Britain

His Rivers of Blood speech warned of the dangers of mass immigration and said that it would lead to serious racial strife in Britain

‘Added to that, following lengthy discussions, the individual who proposed the plaque decided to withdraw it as a result of the furore that occurred after it was announced.’ 

Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton South East, told MailOnline: ‘The proposal to erect a blue plaque in honour of Enoch Powell was opposed by all three MPs for Wolverhampton and by many other voices in the city. I am glad the idea has been dropped. 

‘To erect such a plaque would have sent out a terrible message to many of our own citizens about how valued they were in our city and it would have been an awful signal to the rest of the country about what Wolverhampton stands for in the 21st century. 

‘Wolverhampton moved on from Enoch Powell a long time ago and we want to concentrate on building a better future, not harking back to the notorious speech he gave fifty years ago.’

Mr Powell rose to notoriety in 1968 on the back of his Rivers of Blood speech, which warned of the dangers of mass immigration.

The speech warned that unless immigration was stopped — and immigrants already in the UK were given financial incentives to return home — there would be racial strife of a seriousness never before seen in Britain.

Although he didn't actually use the phrase 'Rivers of Blood', he did quote the poet Virgil, saying: 'Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood'

Although he didn’t actually use the phrase ‘Rivers of Blood’, he did quote the poet Virgil, saying: ‘Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood’

He never used the phrase ‘Rivers of Blood’, but he did quote the poet Virgil when he said: ‘Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.’

In his speech, Powell also quoted extensively from two of his own constituents.

One was ‘a middle-aged working man’ who, he claimed, had told him: ‘I have three children; all of them been through grammar school and two of them are married now, with family. I shan’t be satisfied till I have seen them all settled overseas.

‘In this country in 15 or 20 years time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.’

The other constituent was an elderly woman who was the last remaining white British person on her Wolverhampton street. 

Though criticised for the speech, it struck a chord with many working class Britons and Powell received nearly 200,000 letters of support

Though criticised for the speech, it struck a chord with many working class Britons and Powell received nearly 200,000 letters of support

‘She is becoming afraid to go out,’ said Powell. ‘Windows are broken. She finds excreta pushed through her letterbox. When she goes to the shops she is followed by children — charming, wide-grinning piccaninnies.’  

His speech was met with widespread condemnation, however he was not without his supporters. 

The speech struck a chord with many working class Britons and Powell received nearly 200,000 letters, almost all of them supportive of his speech. 

He became something of a hero to a portion of the white working classes.

Dockers, who had previously been tribal Labourites, began to march in support of him. At the 1970 general election, Edward Heath’s Conservatives triumphed, in part, it was believed, thanks to the electoral support that Powell’s remarks had gathered. 

However, he remained a controversial figure for his views on immigration and after being dismissed from the Shadow Cabinet before the election, never again spoke to Heath.

Blue plaques are unveiled at the homes or significant places of noteworthy people around the country, such as Sigmund Freud (pictured)

Blue plaques are unveiled at the homes or significant places of noteworthy people around the country, such as Sigmund Freud (pictured)

D.H Lawrence was also commemorated with a blue plaque, and it seems Enoch Powell will miss out on his own

D.H Lawrence was also commemorated with a blue plaque, and it seems Enoch Powell will miss out on his own

In April, the BBC aired the speech in its entirety for the first time to mark its 50th anniversary. 

BBC Radio 4 divided listeners when it aired the speech alongside ‘rigorous journalistic analysis’.

Blue plaques have been given out to significant people in the UK, and have usually adorned the home of the person. 

Famous examples of recipients of a blue plaque include Sigmund Freud, D.H Lawrence and Sylvia Path.  

What was Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech?

Enoch Powell became Tory MP in 1950 and had risen to become Shadow Defence Secretary at the time of his speech.

It was first delivered to local Conservative party members in Birmingham, ahead of a second reading of the Race Relations Act 1968.

Feeling distressed at what he felt was his party’s weak opposition to the Labour government’s immigration policy, he resolved to speak out, in the strongest possible terms, about what he felt had to be done. 

Powell’s 25-minute speech contained high rhetoric, vivid language and was peppered with racist slurs.

It warned, in the starkest possible terms, that unless immigration was stopped — and immigrants already in the UK were given financial incentives to return home — there would be racial strife of a seriousness never before seen in Britain.

He quoted the poet Virgil when he said: ‘Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood,’ from where the speech takes its ‘rivers of blood’ name.

In his speech, Powell also quoted extensively from two of his own constituents.

One was ‘a middle-aged working man’ who, he claimed, had told him: ‘I have three children; all of them been through grammar school and two of them are married now, with family. I shan’t be satisfied till I have seen them all settled overseas.

‘In this country in 15 or 20 years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.’

The other constituent was an elderly woman who claimed to be the last remaining white British person on her Wolverhampton street.

‘She is becoming afraid to go out,’ said Powell. ‘Windows are broken. She finds excreta pushed through her letterbox. When she goes to the shops she is followed by children — charming, wide-grinning piccaninnies.’ 

Other passages contained incitement to hatred, ugly generalisations and ethnic stereotypes. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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