Powell’s blunt racism made him an unwelcome Tory member
The Irish News 11/02/2019
BBC Newsline (January 22) gave us a glimpse of MP Jeffrey Donaldson’s office. On the wall, opposite a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, was one of Enoch Powell.
The name might mean little to some today but 50 years ago it was impossible not to be aware of him. He was perceived by some to be a champion of the ordinary man and woman, but others feared him.
In 1968 he gave a widely publicised, carefully crafted and brilliantly presented address which came to be known as the ‘Rivers of Blood Speech’ in which he intoned, ‘like the Roman I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood’.
His target was a government policy which encouraged Commonwealth immigration as an aid to post-war reconstruction.
Powell’s view was that the policy was bastardising the British race and its ultimate consequence would be racial conflagration. He wanted immigrants repatriated.
Tony Benn said at the time of Powell’s constituency, ‘In Wolverhampton the flag of racialism has been raised’.
The speech was replete with racial slurs and dubious assertions – ‘In this country in 15 or 20 year’s time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man’.
In the wake of the speech there were attacks on racial minorities. Skinheads roamed the streets crying ‘Powell! Powell!’ and ‘Get back to your own country’!
His ejection from the shadow cabinet brought striking dockers on to the streets with placards demanding, ‘Back Britain, not black Britain’.
Powell’s blunt racism made him an unwelcome member of the Tory Party but he found a welcome with the Ulster Unionists and was elected in 1974 as MP for South Down.
Donaldson, his election agent, said ‘he brought great intellect to our party’ and on Powell’s death he reflected, ‘our nation will mourn the loss of a true statesman who was held in very high regard’.
With many thanks to: Seán Mac Conmara for the original posting.