LONGSTANDING LABOUR activist Eleanor Smith has made history by becoming the West Midlands’ first African Caribbean MP – but she’s also won a seat which is of enormous historic importance to the black community.
The swing seat of Wolverhampton South West was once the constituency of controversial Tory MP Enoch Powell, the politician behind the notorious Rivers of Blood speech which he gave 49 years ago warning of the consequences of unchecked immigration.
Smith, a hospital theatre nurse, who became the first-ever black woman president of Unison in 2011/2012 took the marginal seat by storm, scooping 49 per cent of the vote and beating Tory hopeful Paul Uppal by more than 2,000 votes.
In victory, after just two hours’ sleep, she was quick to pay tribute to the local people who voted for her, saying: “Our team was built from the community and the trade union movement – Unison – helped me greatly. The trade union movement put me where I am today, along with the community who came out and helped me win this seat.
“Through The Voice I’d like to personally thank everyone who voted for me in what turned out to be the highest ever turnout of 71 percent. We did it together as a community from the grassroots upwards and I certainly won’t let you down.
“We have a wonderfully diverse community here in Wolverhampton, which is a microcosm of the UK and rich in so many different faith groups.
“As a health professional, I am standing up to defend the NHS. From my own experience of being a nurse on the the front line – I was working until only recently doing 12-hour shifts – we can see what’s happening and we don’t like it. I have got to defend this.”
Her other pledge is to move from her home in Northfield, Birmingham, near to where she worked at Birmingham’s Women’s Hospital, to live in the constituency she will serve.
She told The Voice: “You cannot support your constituency if you don’t know what is going on there. I intend to have my finger on the pulse in my own patch.”
Smith also pledged to tackle homelessness in Wolverhampton and youth unemployment which currently stands at 27 percent.
On the issue of taking over Enoch Powell’s old seat, she told The Voice: “I feel it closes that chapter now for good.”Source
Powell's full "Rivers of Blood" speech, not read by Powell himself, however.