Press release from the Bishop of Wolverhampton
The Bishop of Wolverhampton, the Right Revd Clive Gregory, has spoken against plans for a blue plaque commemorating controversial politician Enoch Powell in Wolverhampton.
Powell, a Conservative MP in the city from 1950 to 1974, was remembered for his notorious ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968.
Both Bishop Clive and the Bishop of Lichfield, the Right Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, have signed a petition by Black Country Stand Up To Racism opposing the move.
Bishop Clive said: “As President of Interfaith Wolverhampton, 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 (described by the Times as ‘evil’).
“Part of that response was the coming together of people across many faiths and races to work tirelessly for inter-cultural tolerance and understanding. That we have such a welcoming and harmonious City today, with strong and respectful bonds between our faith communities, owes nothing to the legacy of Enoch Powell but a great deal to many who will never be considered for blue plaques.
“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 honoring 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.”