Enoch Powell: the Great Lie Survives

Simon Heffer, Telegraph (London), April 19, 2008

Sunday [was] the 40th anniversary of perhaps the most significant speech made in British politics since the Second World War: Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech.

It is also, therefore, near to the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest lies in British politics since the Second World War: that this remarkably accurate prediction of the dangers of enforced multiculturalism has “prevented” a rational debate on immigration, since anyone who seeks to engage in it will be branded as a “racist”.

It would be a comfort if this position were merely ignorant. It isn’t. Powell is used by the Left—and that includes many people in the Conservative Party—as a cynical excuse to conceal their own failures in imposing proper immigration controls and maintaining social cohesion.

They start by saying Powell was a racist, which is also a deliberate lie. They then say that anyone who mentions immigration will now be tarred with that brush, which must therefore be a lie as well. This is convenient for those who have betrayed the people of this country by imposing an immigrant community so large upon it that it struggles to integrate—and, indeed, who have betrayed many of those immigrants too. Yet it won’t wash.

Long before Powell made his speech—which ought to be issued to every home in the land, since I rarely hear it quoted anything other than completely inaccurately—there was a code of silence about immigration. Long before we knew the term “political correctness”, it was viewed as simply impolite to raise the subject.

Powell reported in his speech what he found to be the alarmingly strong views some of his constituents in Wolverhampton had about mass immigration, the way it was affecting their lives and the strain it was putting on local public services. He said he knew there would be “a chorus of execration” that he could say such things. But he asked a more important question as an MP whose electors bring him a deeply unsettling problem: by what right, instead, would he have remained silent?

Powell had served in India in the 1940s. He fell in love with the country, its cultures and its peoples so profoundly that he wished to spend the rest of his life there. He learned to speak two Indian languages fluently. This does not stop point-scoring spud-thick politicians accusing him of racism, bigotry and other vices. A few months ago it did not stop the poseur who leads the Tory party sacking one of his parliamentary candidates for saying that Powell was right. Soon, Dave will be booting out people who say the Pope is Catholic.

Many of our immigrants have assimilated over the past 40 years. Equally, many have chosen not to. Four of them murdered 52 innocent people on London’s public transport network nearly three years ago. Others, according to the police and the security services, are busily engaged in trying to repeat the incident. So far they have been thwarted: but for how long?

This is all the legacy of those who refused to take Powell seriously; of militant Leftists who mischievously cry “racism” to avoid any sensible debate on immigration; of well-heeled politicians who saw no harm in driving millions of poor immigrants into ghettos, with a perfect disregard for their welfare and for that of the people already living in those places; and of ministers in this very Government who for years saw no reason to enforce immigration controls at all, in the interests of deliberately destroying our national identity.

Powell was the greatest Conservative thinker in political life in living memory. He foresaw what were then unimaginable tensions caused by forcibly altering the character of a country. We should remember him tomorrow with enhanced respect. For he was right.


Mass immigration has led to a racial “cold war” among rival ethnic communities, the head of Britain’s race relations watchdog has warned.

Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), said failed immigration policy risked nurturing racism among millions of Britons.

The gloomy assessment is the latest controversial outburst by Mr Phillips on the subject of immigration, he has previously warned of racial “segregation” in Britain, as well as “white families” being “cheated out of their right to social housing by newly arrived migrants”.

In an address to mark the 40th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech, in which Powell warned of the dangerous consequences of the rising level of immigration, Mr Phillips said such predictions had not come true.

However, he warned that out of control immigration policy had sparked a “war” which was just as concerning.

Mr Phillips said: “Powell predicted ‘hot’ conflict and violence.

“However, we have seen the emergence of a kind of cold war in some parts of the country, where very separate communities exist side by side . . . with poor communication across racial or religious lines.

“In essence, Powell so discredited any talk of planning or control that it gave rise to a migration policy in which Government knew too little about what was going on.

“Ironically, Powellism and the weakening of control it engendered may have led Britain to admitting more immigrants than fewer.”

Last week the Telegraph reported on a warning from an influential Lords committee that the number of immigrants entering Britain should be capped, amid fears it was putting too much pressure on public services and housing.

In the speech, delivered in the same Birmingham hotel where Mr Powell sparked public debate on immigration in 1968, Mr Phillips warned Government that it risked playing into the hands of parties such as the British National Party if it failed to address the concerns of the “settled” population.

He said: “For every professional woman who is able to go out to work because she has a Polish nanny, there is a young mother who watches her child struggle in a classroom where a harassed teacher faces too many children with too many languages between them.

“Wanting a better deal for her child doesn’t make her anti-immigrant. But if we can’t find a better answer to her despair then she soon will be.

“For every boss whose bacon is saved by the importation of skilled IT professionals or crafts-people or health professionals, there are a thousand people who wonder every morning why they have to put up with the misery of a packed railway carriage or bus—if they can get on in the first place.

“Wanting an infrastructure that doesn’t make getting to work daily hell doesn’t make someone a natural voter for an anti-immigrant party. But it soon will.”

Mr Phillips’ comments are the latest in a string of controversial remarks on immigration.

In November last year he sparked controversy by saying: “One area where this idea of unfairness is most frequently alleged is in housing allocation, specifically that white families are cheated out of their right to social housing by newly arrived migrants.”

In 2005, when he was chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, Mr Phillips warned of increased “segregation” between ethnic groups in Britain.

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