Fifty years after Enoch Powell MP delivered a speech which widely criticised immigration, the local Civic and Historical Society received an application to honour him in his former constituency.
However, Rt Rev Clive Gregory, Bishop of Wolverhampton and Rt Rev Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield, have signed a petition by the group Black Country Stand Up To Racism called ‘No blue plaque for Enoch Powell!’
Powell was MP for Wolverhampton between 1950 and 1974 but was sacked by Tory leader Ted Heath from the shadow cabinet after his speech caused outrage at his inflammatory rhetoric.
Bishop Clive said in a statement: “I speak on behalf of all the major faith traditions in this city, in strongly opposing the idea of a blue plaque to commemorate Enoch Powell.
“Our inspirational city motto ‘Out of darkness cometh light’ is aptly applied to the response to Enoch Powell’s attempts to stir racial hatred through his ‘Rivers of Blood’ Speech.”
The bishop said the harmony of Wolverhampton today “owes nothing to the legacy of Enoch Powell but a great deal to many who will never be considered for blue plaques.”
Bishop Clive added that opposing it was necessary: “It is disingenuous to suggest that the conferring of a blue plaque on such a divisive figure would be a neutral act.
“It would be widely interpreted as honouring Enoch Powell’s racist views and would no doubt provide a focus for those who wish to exacerbate divisions within our communities and undermine the values that bind us together as fellow citizens.”
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Two bishops have backed a petition to not allow a blue plaque to honour the Conservative MP who gave the infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’.