27 February 2008 Forty years after the notorious speech, Robert Shepherd explores its origins — Powell’s fear of Indian ‘communalism’ and his views on the US race riots What was in Enoch Powell’s mind when he made his explosive ‘rivers of blood’ speech on immigration 40 years ago this spring? His repetition of wild allegations [ Like what? Ed. ] against immigrants made by his constituents and his apocalyptic [ Make that entirely reasonable - Ed. ] warnings of bloody racial conflict ended his front-bench career. Overnight Powell was transformed into a folk-hero for many and a hate-figure for others. Four decades later, the fallout from his outburst is still toxic, as a Tory parliamentary candidate, Nigel Hastilow, discovered to his cost last autumn when he echoed the view sometimes muttered outside polite society and stated that Enoch had been right.
Unlike the Archbishop of Canterbury speaking recently about Sharia law, Powell deliberately set out to shock [ Unsourced assertion - probably a lie at that - Ed. ] . But what was in his mind when he made his fateful speech in the Midland Hotel (now the Burlington) in Birmingham on the afternoon of Saturday 20 April 1968? Was it ambition, racism, or his duty as an MP to voice the concerns of his Wolverhampton constituents? Or was there something else preying on his mind?
These are the questions I set out to answer [ No you didn't - Ed. ] in a documentary for BBC Radio 4 in the first of a major new series of programmes recalling the momentous year of 1968. My investigation hears from eye-witnesses to Powell’s speech and the drama surrounding it. With the help of Peter Brooke, the historian, and the Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, where Powell’s papers are held, the programme draws on the latest research to trace the real source of the ‘rivers of blood’.
Ambition and Powell’s rivalry with Edward Heath [ A fat communist paedophile with an unhealthy interest in brown envelopes - Ed. ], the then Conservative leader, were important tributaries [ sic ] of his speech. Before making it, Powell confided in his close friend in Wolverhampton, Clem Jones, editor of the Black Country’s Express and Star newspaper. Likening his forthcoming speech to a firework, Powell remarked that whereas the stars of an exploding rocket usually fell back to earth, on this occasion the stars would light up the sky for quite a time.
Immigration was a huge issue in the West Midlands in the 1960s, and although Powell was shadow defence minister, it was quite reasonable that he, as a senior local Tory, should speak about it. But he went to extraordinary lengths to keep the subject of his speech secret from his Tory colleagues, particularly Heath. Powell was to address the West Midlands Conservative Political Centre, but he gave no hint of his chosen subject to the chairman of the meeting, Sir Reginald Eyre, then a Birmingham MP and Tory whip for the area. Although being reticent with colleagues, Powell had tipped off journalists, as Eyre discovered when film crews arrived.
Eyre recalls the audience being ‘stunned’ by Powell’s dire warning that, ‘like the Roman’, he saw ‘the river Tiber foaming with much blood’. As soon as the meeting ended Eyre phoned Willie Whitelaw, then Tory chief whip, to report Powell’s comments and the media interest. Powell soon realised that his life was about to be transformed when he called to collect his daughters from the Joneses and was greeted by Clem’s wife, Marjorie. She was shocked that he had quoted racist language and told him their friendship was over.
Powell’s speech led the evening news bulletins and was splashed across the Sunday papers. On Sunday evening, Heath sacked Powell. Jim, now Lord, Prior, Heath’s parliamentary private secretary, recalls that Heath had no choice, because if he had not sacked Powell, both the shadow home secretary, Quintin Hogg [ An arrogant oaf - Ed. ] (previously and later Lord Hailsham), and the shadow chancellor, Iain Macleod, would have quit. They were furious with Powell because, ten days earlier, when the shadow Cabinet agreed a policy of measured opposition to the race relations bill, he had said nothing. Simon Heffer, Powell’s biographer, says that by 1968 Heath and Powell were at odds on many fronts — Powell ‘wanted to provoke Heath’ and probably felt that his speech was ‘a chance worth taking’
Powell’s gamble took a fearful toll on immigrant communities, who had been recruited by employers as a quick fix for Britain’s postwar labour shortage. Bill (later Lord) Morris [ a black ] worked in a Birmingham engineering factory. He recalls that after Powell’s speech, workmates wouldn’t look him in the eye and there was a loss of trust between blacks and whites. Unforgivably, Powell’s speech gave succour to racists [ An accusation from an anti-English Racist - Ed. ]. But the charge that he himself was racist cannot be reconciled with his parliamentary onslaught against a Tory government in 1959 for having failed the Africans beaten and murdered at the Hola detention camp in British-ruled Kenya.
A strong current coursing through the ‘rivers of blood’ speech is Powell’s expression of the intense frustration felt among working- and lower-middle-class communities that immigration was changing their towns when they had not been consulted. Powell represented such people, and at Walsall, two months before his Birmingham speech, he compared their position to being ‘trapped or imprisoned, when all [their] efforts to attract attention and assistance bring no response’. Powell’s rhetoric had also become more potent after 1967, when he visited America and saw the devastation wrought by race riots, and following the arrival in Britain of Kenyan Asians fleeing President Kenyatta.
The final clue to the real source of the ‘rivers of blood’ came in Powell’s Walsall speech when he warned against ‘communalism’, describing it as ‘the curse of India’. Powell’s wartime military service had taken him to India in 1943, and there he developed a burning ambition to be viceroy. The word ‘communalism’ often sprang from the lips of British sahibs in justification of the Raj. Peter Brooke’s research finds Powell echoing this imperialist rationale in Delhi in 1945, when he noted that each Indian party was dominated by a communal group — Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Untouchable and other minorities. Powell concluded that ‘communalism’ ruled out self-government for India in the foreseeable future because individuals would not behave as rational voters or accept majority decisions if they were in a minority.
On returning to civvy street in 1946, Powell imported this thinking into his work at the Conservative parliamentary secretariat, advising against immigration from India because it would undermine Britain’s homogeneous electorate. The following year Attlee’s government pushed ahead with Indian independence. As his beloved India descended into communal violence, Powell received leaked, confidential reports via his contacts, including a former Indian civil servant, Frank Brayne, detailing the bloodshed. At the foot of a report from Lahore dated March 1947, Brayne scrawled, ‘Quem deus vult perdere prius dementat’ — the chilling phrase intoned in translation by Powell in 1968, ‘Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad’.
Although Powell abandoned imperialism, he never discarded his fear that immigration would introduce communalism, thereby destroying Britain’s homogeneous electorate on which, he believed, its parliamentary system depended. For Powell, India’s bloodbath and America’s race riots confirmed where communalism led. This nightmare was the real source of his ‘rivers of blood’ speech.
Enoch Powell's Failures
The BBC [ Those three letters guarantee left wing bias - Editor ] documentary on Enoch Powell’s 1968 “rivers of blood” speech in Birmingham, currently featured on The Occidental Observer, reminds us of how White loyalism has been systematically defeated since the Second World War throughout the West (though with some recent exceptions in Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, and even Britain). It also reminds us of the tragic failure of our elites to respond to prophetic, principled voices such as Powell’s. Nevertheless I think Enoch Powell is an inappropriate role model for White activists.
Despite personal failure as a politician, Powell could have succeeded in the long term by planting the seeds of understanding and thus resistance in the public mind. Infuriately his argument was flawed. He did not get to the heart of the issue, of why Western nations need to stop large scale immigration. Yes, violent unrest is bad. But Powell would have had Britons believe that violence was the only threat. People soon realized that rivers of blood were unlikely to flow. Indeed, over time Powell’s emphasis of violence may have worked against immigration restriction because he effectively set the criterion of success so low that immigration even of tsunami proportions passed the test.........
It would have been a patriotic service to have exposed the Jewish factor in Britain’s immigration disaster. Why did Thatcher, of all people, not cut immigration after the 1981 riots?.......... This was a dimension of politics Enoch Powell never broached. As reported in the European Jewish Press (30 Dec. 2005 - see FO had concerns over Thatcher’s Jewish links) it was known in government circles that Thatcher had a long-running close relationship with the Jewish community and that there was a large and supportive Jewish constituency in her electorate.......
Surely Powell knew of Thatcher’s Jewish ties and understood political Zionism. If he had talked about these and other underlying issues he would still have been met with overwhelming opposition. But more of the public would have realized over time that he was right. They could have made sense of what was happening to them as the passing years saw their dispossession accelerate.
The fact that Charles Dodgson needs to be used as an alias tells us about the corruption, the oppression of English politics. The original article is longer and worth reading.
The [ almost ] great man, a war time brigadier.