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WOLVERHAMPTON: “Rivers of blood” comment sparks fury

WOLVERHAMPTON: “Rivers of blood” comment sparks fury

PIC: Celia Hibbert

A councillor campaigning to stop a performance by Roy Chubby Brown in Bilston tonight has been branded irresponsible for warning there could be “rivers of blood” if the show goes ahead.

Councillor Celia Hibbert made the reference to the infamous 1968 speech by former Wolverhampton South West MP Enoch Powell when discussing the show at the Town Hall, on Caroline Martin’s BBC Radio WM show earlier today (October 21).

The councillor is among those calling for the comedian to be turned away from Wolverhampton, arguing that his act frequently contains offensive and racially-insensitive material.

But Conservative councillors have lambasted the Labour member for Penn for her comments and advised her to choose her words more carefully.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed how people had been “appalled” by the decision to host the controversial comic at the City of Wolverhampton Council-run venue.

Councillor Hibbert said they did not need the kind of “hate propaganda” contained in the material of Chubby Brown – real name Royston Vaysey.

In light of the criticism, the authority said it was “urgently reviewing our booking policies and procedures for council venues to make sure they are true to our values, now and in the future.”

On the radio, Councillor Hibbert said: “Personally I feel this event should be cancelled and so do all the people. It cannot be allowed to go ahead.

“I have been warned there will be ‘rivers of blood’ if this event is allowed to take place and we cannot take this for granted. Something has to be done.”

Councillor Simon Bennett, deputy leader of the Wolverhampton Conservatives, said their group was against all forms of discrimination but also strong believers in freedom of speech.

He said: “I am extremely concerned about some of the language being used in response to tonight’s performance by Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown.

“Using phrases like ‘Rivers of blood’ is both incredibly insensitive and irresponsible.

“Furthermore, the intimation of violence in response to a comic performing is completely over the top and deeply worrying considering the events of Friday last week.

“Councillor Hibbert needs to understand she is not the moral authority on what can and can’t be said or even the Council’s booking agent. I would suggest she chooses her words more carefully in future.”

He added: “I’m also concerned at the Council’s knee jerk reaction to the booking of future acts and will be raising this with senior staff at the Council.

“Whilst the Council is right to regularly review its booking policy this should be done in a calm, measured manner and not driven by outbursts in the media.

“To those who dislike Roy’s comedy I would say don’t go.”

Councillor Hibbert has been contacted for comment.

Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter

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