Niall Firth, Daily Mail (London), July 19, 2009
Radio 2 presenter Sarah Kennedy has been chastised by the BBC for praising right-wing politician Enoch Powell during her show.
During her early-morning show on Wednesday, Kennedy, 59, described Powell as ‘the best prime minister this country never had’.
Enoch Powell was famously sacked from the shadow cabinet by Ted Heath in 1968 after his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech about the dangers of mass immigration.
A spokesman for the BBC said that the corporation had received 25 complaints by Friday and that the presenter had been ‘spoken to’ about the remark.
Rivers of blood: Sarah Kennedy has been ‘spoken to’ by the BBC for saying that right-wing politician Enoch Powell ‘was the best Prime Minister we never had’
She said: ‘It was inappropriate for Sarah to offer an off-the-cuff political opinion and we have spoken to her and made that clear.’
This is not the first time Kennedy has run into trouble over comments made on her show.
In 1999, she called a clergyman an ‘old prune, described fellow DJ Ken Bruce as an ‘old fool’ and accused a newsreader of soiling her underwear. She then took a week off work, citing exhaustion.
In 2007 she ran into a race row after she said she had almost run over a black pedestrian because his dark clothes made him ‘invisible’ at night.
She said: ‘It’s lucky he opened his mouth to yawn or do something and I saw him.’
In August 2007 she prompted a flood of complaints after slurring her way through her show, mispronouncing words and offering to send ‘panties’ to soldiers in Afghanistan.
A Radio 2 spokeswoman blamed a sore throat.
In his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech to Conservatives in Birmingham’s Midland Hotel in 1968, Enoch Powell spoke out the threats caused by the mass immigration of people from Britain’s former colonies..
He also heavily criticised the planned anti-discrimination laws which would make it illegal to refuse service on grounds of race.
The speech was deliberately provocative in its views and language–with the use of the word ‘picaninnies’, a 19th century slang term used in the southern states of America to describe the children of black slaves, causing particular offence.
It caused deep divisions in public opinion with Powell accused of inflaming racial hatred by many, but applauded by others for saying the unsayable.
He was quickly sacked from Edward Heath’s shadow cabinet but he also received 120,000 letters of support.
[Editor’s Note: The story of Sarah Kennedy’s difficulty seeing dark people in dark clothes in the dark can be read here.]