Friday, April 20, 2018, marks the 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s famous/infamous Rivers of Blood speech at Birmingham Conservative Political Centre.
The core content expressed premonitions on the effects of immigration in years to come. It was either reviled or lauded.
A contentious sentence was: “We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual flow of some 50,000 dependants. It is like watching a nation heaping up its own funeral pyre.”
A rhetorical question would be, was he right? Fifty years on a lot has happened and to some shades of political opinion it would be argued that the evidence is damning. Let’s look briefly at the views expressed by this politician from an overall picture.
What is very little known about Mr Powell is that years earlier as a Home Office minister he authorised controlled immigration from the Caribbean and Africa to do jobs which were eschewed by many indigenous English people. In his Christian calling he did a lot of charitable things for that continent.
Being around at the time in 1968 as an inquisitive teenager, I didn’t do the trendy thing and jump on a liberal bandwagon of sanctimonious judgement. Mr Powell was referring to the intricacies of immigration such as pressure on education, health, housing, cultural differences, language barriers and the potential failure of the whole socio economic mix to absorb change. Surely the history books speak volumes? It is an ineluctable fact that in our country we have crises in housing and the NHS. This letters column alone is testament to that.
Enoch Powell in his deliberations never had the colour of a person’s skin in mind, and was viscerally opposed to racism for real. Had the gentleman been around today, he may have conceivably said to Westminster and Brussels, “I told you so.”