As I pulled up at this expansive cemetery in Warwickshire I thought Enoch might be spinning so quickly in his grave the noise would reveal his location (it took about half an hour to find though.) He would surely be spinning in his grave at the levels of immigration over the last decade or two. If you watch his infamous “Rivers Of Blood” 1968 speech he’s alarmed by net immigration at 50,000 per year. It’s a good job he’s dead and buried as he’d have grown a cluster of ulcers at the current level of 290,000 per year and knowledge that 14% of the population were born abroad. Here I am at his final resting place.
Enoch’s incendiary speech blots out the many arrows in his quiver. Not only was he an MP for Wolverhampton for 24 years but a classical scholar, author, linguist, soldier, philologist and poet. He was a professor of Ancient Greek at the age of 25, served in World War II, penned lots of published poetry and wrote many books on classical and political subjects. He was such a bright and busy man it’s difficult to encapsulate his life in a few paragraphs (so I won’t bother.)
He might have died in partial obscurity had his "Rivers of Blood” speech not been filmed ("rivers of blood" referring to the riots that would ensue should immigration continue.) He was applying worries from his constituents - who said mostly Afro-Caribbean immigrant didn’t integrate - to the future of the UK. He was removed from his job as Shadow Defence Secretary not long after the speech. He's suffering now as political correctness has prevented a blue plaque being bolted to this large semi-detached house in Wolverhampton. Wolverhampton Civic and Historical Society received an application for a plaque but even though Enoch was probably the most famous person associated with Wolverhampton in the twentieth the plaque was cancelled (some people contacted the society offering to pay the £1,000 required to fund it but it was refused.) He'd lived at the house with his wife and two daughters.
Aged 80 Enoch was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease but still working, providing journalism and giving speeches. He died five years later having been hospitalised several times after falls. His last fall happened at his second home in Belgravia in London and he was taken to the King Edward VII's Hospital. His last words were, “I don't call that much of a lunch" - uttered after he'd asked for his lunch and the nurse said he was being fed intravenously.
This was quite a large cemetery but I happened upon the headstone by accident. I saw some war graves and a solitary pink rose by one of them. Being nosey I went to read the carving. This was it. Who put that pink rose there - Nigel Farage? I looked at the grass under which Enoch lies in a full brigadier's uniform and wondered what he thought of his legacy. Some say he was pointedly racist and others say his warning has incarnated itself. I'm sure he'd have fallen into history more blandly had the speech not been filmed for prosperity. He might have been remembered more for having a funny name - have you ever known an Enoch? Oddly he was called John and Enoch was his middle name. - perhaps John was a bit common.
Nobody walked through that part of the cemetery while I was there doing some salutes but a thousand people turned up for the burial. I left one of my cards by the rose (waterproofed with Cellotape.) I’m not sure if Enoch’s wife Pamela is buried here but I doubt it - wars graves seem to entomb only one. She was 19 years younger than him and lived for 19 years after his death. As I was walking away I said "Bye Enoch" out loud and two magpies on a branch started a raspy chatter. I like to think it was Enoch saying "Thanks for visiting me, dude" but they were probably wondering what all that saluting was about.
Enoch giving his inflammatory speech...
Not many people get an MBE...