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Readers back plans for Powell blue plaque – but newspaper stays neutral

Enoch PowellA regional daily’s online poll on whether Enoch Powell should have a blue plaque erected has closed with 70pc of readers giving the idea their backing.

But Wolverhampton daily the Express & Star, which staged the vote over the course of last week, says it has “no plans” to join the campaign to honour the controversial politician, pictured left.

The E&S poll followed a public meeting held by the paper last month to mark 50 years since Mr Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech warning of the dangers of mass immigration.

By the time it closed on Sunday more than 20,000 readers had had their say – with 70pc backing the blue plaque proposal.

Wolverhampton Civic and Historical Society has confirmed it has received an application for a plaque for Powell, who was a Tory MP in the city for 24 years.

Among its backers is former Birmingham Post editor Nigel Hastilow, who described Mr Powell in a recent article as “one of the towering figures of the 20th century.”

“Enoch Powell fought to maintain our freedoms.  Would anyone seriously deny such a significant politician a little blue plaque marking his links to Wolverhampton?,” he wrote.

However the city’s three Labour MPs and the local bishop have all declared their opposition to a plaque on the grounds that it would be tantamount to “honouring his racist views.”

Despite the overwhelming public vote in favour of the plaque proposal, E&S editor Keith Harrison made clear the paper is staying above the fray.

He told HTFP: “Our aim with the poll was to ascertain a snapshot of public opinion and, as ever, report the results in an accurate, balanced and fair way.

“The scale of the response shows that, 50 years on, the Rivers of Blood speech still sparks strong feelings across the political spectrum.

“We have no plans to campaign for or against the plaque proposal.”

6 comments

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  • February 13, 2018 at 11:12 am
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    As I remember it, Enoch Powell said that unrestricted immigration would cause major problems in years to come. That’s about right isn’t it, and he was correct wasnt he?

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  • February 13, 2018 at 1:27 pm
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    Agree with it or not, what Mr Powell said is part of our history. It happened – so learn about it, understand it and learn from it.
    On the whole, I’ve never been a fan of rewriting history by, for example, removing statues of people we don’t like any more, or pardoning people punished for actions centuries ago. Some things should simply be remembered and understood in context.

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  • February 13, 2018 at 11:50 pm
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    I believe in immigration to/from countries. But the problem is that EP has been demonised because he was reported as attacking non-white people. If he spoke today he would be supported by many people who think that, whatever their colour or race etc, we cannot absorb vast numbers of people into our country but politicians of whatever persuasion have not got the guts to say so because they fear the anti-diatribe.

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  • February 13, 2018 at 11:53 pm
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    I should have added: why the heck has a bishop got to be involved. And the local paper should have the guts to come out in favour of one side or the other. No wonder local papers are losing readers.

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  • February 14, 2018 at 9:02 am
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    Not sure he was correct Kevin Platt. Sure it caused some problems, but also added many positives. Unfortunately in life there is no “control” group, so hard to say whether unrestricted immigration has had either a positive of negative impact.

    I tend to think the UK’s major problems lie elsewhere, beginning with Powell’s heir apparent Margaret Thatcher, who set about creating an underclass of poor, white working-class people.

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  • February 14, 2018 at 9:57 am
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    As someone who lives in the Black Country, I am deeply aware of how Enoch Powell divided communities and had a malign impact on the national discourse – and still does. As a one-time Thatcherite prospective Tory parliamentary candidate, it is predictable Nigel Hastilow would want “a little blue plaque” to his hero. But was Powell even a significant politician? What greatness did he bless this country with? What positive contribution did he make to the UK and world? If he had not set out deliberately to fan the flames of racism at a critical time in this nation’s history with a single abusive speech, would we be talking about him now? I think not. I for one support the E&S’s wise neutrality on whether to bestow an honour on such a discredited politician. It is the right call.

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