Stephanie Linning, Daily Mail, April 16, 2018
Defiant families have responded to the controversial rebroadcast of Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech by sharing photos celebrating their mixed-race heritage.
Parents, grandparents and children from across the UK tweeted posts showing how British society came together and did not succumb to the race war predicted by Conservative MP Powell in his incendiary 1968 speech.
BBC Radio 4 divided listeners when it aired the speech alongside ‘rigorous journalistic analysis’ on Saturday night to mark the 50th anniversary.
But it also sparked a campaign of unity on social media, with hundreds of users sharing posts with ‘#riversoflove’ and ‘#enochwaswrong’ over the last 36 hours.
Actor Eddie Marsan, 49, prompted the outpouring when he tweeted: ‘My Mum with her 1st Great Grandchild Emmy. Enoch Powell was wrong, there weren’t “rivers of blood” but there were “rivers of love” and they’ll be flowing for generations.’
His tweet has been ‘liked’ more than 15,000 times and received thousands of responses.
Parents proudly shared photos of their bi-racial children, while others tweeted snaps of sports teams, social clubs and events where people from a broad spectrum of ethnic backgrounds come together.
Powell’s anti mass immigration speech was first delivered to local Conservative party members in Birmingham ahead of a second reading of the Race Relations Act 1968.
Powell predicted the Act would lead to national ‘suicide’ and urged immigrants living in the UK to return to their country of origin.
He referred to a white constituent who feared ‘the black man having the whip hand over the white man’ and ended by ominously predicting rivers of blood.
BBC Radio 4 marked the 50th anniversary of the speech with a re-broadcasting on Saturday night, with actor Ian McDiarmid voicing the politicians words.
The text was interspersed with expert commentary and analysis.
Last Thursday Labour peer Lord Adonis wrote an open letter to the communications watchdog Ofcom urging it to intervene.
Homeland actor David Harewood, 52, said: ‘I don’t need that speech analysed. I know exactly what it meant because I felt it.
‘On my way to school, on my way home, and basically whenever I went outside in the late Seventies and Eighties. I tried not to listen then, so I won’t listen now.’
Dr Shirin Hirsch, wo is currently researching Powell at Wolverhampton University, was horrified to learn the show included a broadcast of the full speech.
Radio 4’s commissioning editor for factual, Mohit Bakaya, defended the programme, saying the station’s listeners expect it ‘to tackle difficult subjects at times when they are relevant’.