A regional daily is set to hold a debate on the legacy of Enoch Powell to mark the 50th anniversary of the controversial politician’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.
Nigel was selected as a Conservative parliamentary candidate in 2007, but resigned his candidacy following criticism of a column he wrote for the Express & Star in which he suggested Mr Powell had been correct to warn that uncontrolled immigration “would change our country irrevocably.”
Nigel wrote at the time: “He was right. It has changed dramatically.”
In the so-called ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, made at a meeting of the Conservative Political Centre in Birmingham on 20 April 1968, Mr Powell, pictured, called for the “voluntary” repatriation of immigrants.
He was sacked from the Conservative front bench by the party’s then leader, Ted Heath, and eventually joined the Ulster Unionists.
Also on the panel will be UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge, Labour MP Eleanor Smith, who holds Mr Powell’s former Wolverhampton South West constituency, historian Dr Shirin Hirsch, political commentator Nick Jones and Wolverhampton-born political activist Patrick Vernon.
The debate will be chaired by Express & Star editor Keith Harrison.
Readers are being asked to submit their questions for the discussion, which will be held during the second annual Wolverhampton Literature Festival on 27 January.
A piece publicising the debate on the E&S website states: “Did Powell’s speech foster an anti-immigration feeling across the country, or was he simply saying what many people thought at the time?
“How has history treated his words, and what have we learned as a result? Our panel is waiting to hear from you.”