Enoch Powell: Intellectual, patriot, and prophet

Enoch PowellEnoch Powell (1912-1998) was an amazing and brilliant man. He was a classical scholar, soldier, poet, and politician.

Powell was an outstanding prize-winning student and a graduate of Cambridge University. He was fluent in classical Greek and Latin, on top of which he learnt to speak French, German, modern Greek, Italian, Punjabi, and Urdu; he could also read Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and medieval Welsh.1

At the age of 25, he went to Australia to take up a position as Professor of Greek at Sydney University, where he taught from 1937 to 1939; but when the Second World War began, he resigned his post so that he could return to Britain and join the fight against Nazi Germany. Powell joined the British army as a private soldier and rose to become a Brigadier. This was an extremely unusual feat, as most officers in Britain, Europe, and the USA joined their country’s armed forces as officer cadets; only unusually gifted men, like Enoch Powell, ever rose from the ranks to such heights. After the Second World War, he turned his hand to politics, and was elected in 1950 as a Conservative Party member of parliament. Powell held a number of positions, and became Minister of Health in 1960.2

Powell had long been aware of the problems of Third World immigration. In 1958, commenting on the White Australia Policy, he wrote:

“Finding herself providentially lacking the elements of racial division, yet able to achieve her national development without creating them, Australia would be worse than foolish if she did not jealously preserve the advantage of an all-white population”.3

Third World immigration was on the rise in Britain, and he could see the problems which lay ahead. In his 1964 election speech, Powell spoke about having concerns over the issue of immigration; unfortunately, however, his stance was largely ignored by the media. He stated:

“In my view it was essential, for the sake not only of our own people but of the immigrants themselves, to introduce control over the numbers allowed in. The Labour Party opposed this in principle and has obstructed and voted against it on every occasion. I am convinced that strict control must continue if we are to avoid the evils of a ‘colour question’ in this country, for ourselves and for our children.”4

Enoch Powell delivered his most famous speech on the 20th of April 1968, at a meeting of the Conservative Association in Birmingham. Powell outlined the concerns of many British people over the future of their country. Whilst Powell referred to his address as his “Birmingham speech”, the media called it his “Rivers of Blood speech”, a name which stuck in the public memory. Although he did not use the phrase “rivers of blood” in his speech, he did allude to a quote from an ancient Roman author, “As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood”, which was a reference to Virgil’s “Aeneid”, with its line regarding the Tiber River, “Wars, grim wars I discern, and Tiber afoam with streams of blood”.

In his speech, Powell reflected the concerns of the British people:

“Whole areas, towns and parts of towns across England will be occupied by sections of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population. . . . We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependants, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant-descended population. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre. . . . the impact upon the existing population . . . For reasons which they could not comprehend, and in pursuance of a decision by default, on which they were never consulted, they found themselves made strangers in their own country. . . . their homes and neighbourhoods changed beyond recognition, their plans and prospects for the future defeated . . . Only resolute and urgent action will avert it even now. Whether there will be the public will to demand and obtain that action, I do not know. All I know is that to see, and not to speak, would be the great betrayal.”5

Powell’s message struck a note with the British public, making him very popular with the common people, but very unpopular with the ruling class.

After Powell gave his speech, the authoritarian nature of Multiculturalism raised its ugly head, with threats to have him jailed for expressing his opinion, and the opinions of his constituents, in public. Edward Leadbitter, a Labour MP, wanted Powell put on trial for “inciting race prejudice and violence”, and reported the speech to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Jeremy Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal Party, maintained that there was a case to be made for prosecuting Powell for incitement. Conservative Party MPs showed their hatred and intolerance as well, demanding that Powell be dismissed from the Shadow Cabinet. Edward Heath, the Conservative Party leader, sacked Powell from his position as Shadow Secretary of State for Defence.6

Despite the hatred and rancour coming from most of the political class, opinion polls showed that Powell had the backing of the British public. One of Powell’s biographers noted the huge support shown:

“four different opinion polls, Gallup, ORC, NOP and Daily Express, all recorded overwhelming public support for him. Gallup recorded 74%, ORC 82%, NOP 67% and the Express 79%”7

As George L. Bernstein wrote,

“Opinion polls over the next month showed that from 67 to 82 per cent of the British people agreed with Powell, and many felt that he was the first British politician who was actually listening to them.”8

EnochPowell, march in support ofThat Enoch Powell had a massive amount of public support was further shown, not only by the hundreds of thousands of letters he received, but also by the actions of thousands of unionists who went on strike in condemnation of the treatment meted out to the brave patriot. To their everlasting credit, a thousand dock workers went on strike and marched on parliament in a display of public support for the embattled politician. There were other pro-Powell strikes on the docks as well. It was estimated that, in the week following Powell’s sacking, about a third of all registered dock workers went on strike over the issue. All up, an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 workers went on strike in support of Powell; shop stewards and other unionists also circulated petitions in support for him. However, despite the huge show of public support, Powell was never reinstated as to his former position by the Conservative Party; however, he was more interested in principle, patriotism, and truth than being a part of a traitorous Establishment. Undeterred, he turned his back on the Tories and, without them, was elected again and again, continuing on as a Member of Parliament until 1987. 9

In a article on Powell, published in Humanities Research (an Australian National University periodical), Ben Wellings wrote:

“Powell’s fall from grace might suggest . . . some sort of political naivety whereby the pursuit of logic and consistency was a death knell for his political ambitions (but not his popular appeal). So his sacking from the Shadow Cabinet freed him from the constraints of collective responsibility and pushed him closer to ‘the people’ on whose behalf, from this point on, he began to speak.”10

Just because he spoke up for his people, Powell was massively maligned by the mainstream media (an industry ideologically dominated by multiculturalists and multiracialists). He was called evil and a racialist, inferring that he was race hater. However, whilst Powell was in favour of a Britain with a majority-White population, he was not a “racist”. Those who got to know him found out that the anti-Powell slurs were lies.11

Dr Victoria Honeyman, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Leeds in England, gave a more balanced view:

“Enoch Powell was, like other politicians such as Keith Joseph, an intellectual in the true sense of the word. He would follow the logic of an intellectual argument to its conclusion, regardless of how unpalatable that conclusion was, and then present it and often expect others to appreciate his process. . . . . . . Powell is usually viewed as being a racist, but that is too simplistic. Powell was interested in what he saw as being best for Britain. . . . While it is easy to label him a racist, if you view his argument as an intellectual argument, he simply delivered what he considered the reasoned conclusion to it. It was not a reflection on Indian and Pakistani people, only a comment on what immigration from these countries might do to Britain.”12

Robert Shepherd, who wrote an acclaimed biography of Enoch Powell, also made it clear that Powell was not a race hater:

“The theory that Powell was motivated by racism was disproved when I again filmed Powell in 1993 for a Channel 4 series on post-war Britain . . . Powell recalled on camera one of his finest parliamentary speeches, when he accused the Tory Government in 1959 of having failed African detainees who had beaten and murdered in British-ruled Kenya. Powell told us how, having savaged his fellow Tories, he sat down in the Commons and wept. As he spoke, we noticed the tears were flowing again, 34 years later. Powell’s withering assault and his emotional reaction were not the behaviour of a racist.”13

In January 1969 David Frost, the BBC television interviewer, asked Powell if he was a “racialist”, and received the following reply:

“It depends on how you define the word ‘racialist’. If you mean being conscious of the differences between men and nations, and from that, races, then we are all racialists. However, if you mean a man who despises a human being because he belongs to another race, or a man who believes that one race is inherently superior to another, then the answer is emphatically ‘No’.”14

Even though his outspokenness made him the enemy of the major political parties, some Conservative politicians, such as John Jennings, Henry Kerby, Gerald Nabarro, Duncan Sandys, and Teddy Taylor, supported Powell’s right to speak. Captain Henry Kerby said that Powell was:

“not only fully entitled but duty-bound to tell the British people the truth as he sees it. If we are now to be gagged and free speech made illegal with so-called racialism used as the pretext for doing so, it will be a black day for all of us”.15

Enoch Powell was a man who would never say die. He believed in fighting for a just cause, no matter if the odds were against you. Shortly after his famous speech on immigration, he said:

Too often today, people are ready to tell us, this is not possible, that is not possible. I say, whatever the true interest of our country calls for is always possible. We have nothing to fear but our own doubts.16

Following Powell’s death in 1998, The Sun newspaper said of him:

“He always said what people in power didn’t want to hear. That was because Enoch Powell was almost always right. His death robs the country of one of the finest Conservative thinkers in history. Enoch didn’t care who he upset if he believed something needed to be said. What a change from today’s fawning Yes-men.”17

Some telling words about Enoch Powell from his biographer, Simon Heffer, offer an appropriate summation of the man:

“Powell was a man of conspicuous moral greatness, something that, alone, made him unsuited for politics, because it meant he could not keep what he perceived to be the truth to himself. He had a gift denied to most politicians, which was of making prophecies that were right. . . . his influence on political thought is not only undiminished: it continues to grow.”18

Enoch Powell Was Right badgeEnoch Powell was an accomplished intellectual, a giant amongst men, and a prophet for his nation. It is a shame that Britain does not have more men of such stature as Enoch Powell. We can only hope that leaders of his calibre will arise in the coming years, for Britain will sorely need them.



See also:
You See the Sacred Blood, poem by Enoch Powell, 1937

Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood speech”, 20 April 1968

References:
1. Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell, Faber & Faber, 2014
John Campbell, “The doom of the prophet”, The Independent, 23 November 1996
Simon Heffer, “A prophet yet an outcast: 100 years after his birth Enoch Powell has been vindicated on a host of crucial issues”, Daily Mail, 14 June 2012

2. “ A professor of Greek ‘just out of nappies’”, Times Higher Education, 1 September 1995
New Professor: Youngest in Australia: Chair of Greek at Sydney, The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, NSW), 4 November 1937, p. 10
Keith Layborn, Fifty Key Figures in Twentieth-Century British Politics, London: Routledge, 2002, pp. 200-205
Patrick Cosgrave, “Obituary: Enoch Powell”, The Independent, 9 February 1998
Mr. Enoch Powell Minister of Health”, British Medical Journal, 6 August 1960, pp. 460-461

3. Enoch Powell, “Development down under”, National and English Review, August 1958, pp. 67-70; cited in: Ben Wellings, “Enoch Powell: The lonesome leader”, Humanities Research (Research School of Humanities & the Arts, Australian National University), Vol XIX, No. 1, 2013
Ben Wellings, “Enoch Powell: The lonesome leader”, Academia.edu

4. Robert Shepherd, Enoch Powell, London: Hutchinson, 1996, p. 275

5. “Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech”, The Telegraph, 6 November 2007
Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech (full-text)”, International Business Times, 14 June 2011

6. Satnam Virdee, Racism, Class and the Racialized Outsider, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, p. 115
Ciarán J. Burke, ““Like the Roman”: Enoch Powell and English immigration law”, Amsterdam Law Forum, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2008
“Worst utterance since Mosley””, The Glasgow Herald, 22 April 1968, p. 1
Arthur Veysey, “Britons back Powell blast on Coloreds: His firing by Heath stirs a furor”, Chicago Tribune, 23 April 1968, p. 16
Dan Hodges, “Enoch Powell would have enjoyed David Cameron’s immigration speech”, The Telegraph, 28 November 2014

7. Patrick Cosgrave, The Lives of Enoch Powell, London: Pan Books, 1989, p. 253; cited in: Robin A. Brace, Enoch Powell; The Enigma, UK Apologetics, 7 December 2011

8. George L. Bernstein, The Myth of Decline: The Rise of Britain Since 1945, London: Pimlico (Random House), 2011, [p. 274]

9. Satnam Virdee, Racism, Class and the Racialized Outsider, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, pp. 115-116

10. Ben Wellings, “Enoch Powell: The lonesome leader”, Humanities Research (Research School of Humanities & the Arts, Australian National University), Vol XIX, No. 1, 2013

11. Vicki Power, “Enoch Powell was not an out-and-out racist”, The Telegraph, 12 November 2010

12. Palash Ghosh, “A remembrance and appraisal of Enoch Powell”, International Business Times, 14 June 2011

13. Robert Shepherd, “Rivers of Blood, The Real Source”, BBC Radio 4, 3 March 2008

14. Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell, London: Phoenix, 1999, p. 504; cited in: Robin A. Brace, “Enoch Powell; The Enigma”, UK Apologetics, 7 December 2011

15. Arthur Veysey, “Britons back Powell blast on Coloreds: His firing by Heath stirs a furor”, Chicago Tribune, 23 April 1968, p. 16
Ciarán J. Burke, ““Like the Roman”: Enoch Powell and English immigration law”, Amsterdam Law Forum, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2008
Camilla Schofield, Enoch Powell and the Making of Postcolonial Britain, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013, pp. 241-242

16. Simon Heffer, “A prophet yet an outcast: 100 years after his birth Enoch Powell has been vindicated on a host of crucial issues”, Daily Mail, 14 June 2012

17. “The Sun says”, The Sun (UK), 9 February 1998; cited in: Ben Wellings, “Enoch Powell: The lonesome leader”, Humanities Research (Research School of Humanities & the Arts, Australian National University), Vol XIX, No. 1, 2013

18. Simon Heffer, “A prophet yet an outcast: 100 years after his birth Enoch Powell has been vindicated on a host of crucial issues”, Daily Mail, 14 June 2012

[For further reading, see the Wikipedia entry: “Enoch Powell”]