Saturday, 21 April 2018

Was Enoch Powell a racist?

Asked in an 1969 television interview as to whether he was a 'racialist' Enoch Powell replied: 
If you mean being conscious of the differences between men and nations, and from that, races, then we are all racialists. However, if you mean a man who despises a human being because he belongs to another race, or a man who believes that one race is inherently superior to another,then the answer is emphatically "No".
In the Great Debate, BBC TV (9 September 1969)

Trevor Huddleston: 

...what I still want to know from you, really, is why the presence of a coloured immigrant group is objectionable, when the presence of a non-coloured immigrant is not objectionable.
Enoch Powell: 
Oh no, oh no! On the contrary, I have often said that if we saw the prospect of five million Germans in this country at the end of the century, the risks of disruption and violence would probably be greater, and the antagonism which would be aroused would be more severe. The reason why the whole debate in this country on immigration is related to coloured immigration, is because there has been no net immigration of white Commonwealth citizens, and there could be no migration of aliens. This is merely an automatic consequence of the facts of the case; it is not because there is anything different, because there is anything necessarily more dangerous, about the alienness of a community from Asia, than about the alienness of a community from Turkey or from Germany, that we discuss this inevitably in terms of colour. It is because it is that problem.
In a 1977 TV interview:
The prospect is that politicians of all parties will say, well, Enoch was right, we don’t say that in public, but we know it in private…So let it go on until one-third of central London, one-third of Birmingham, Wolverhampton are coloured, until the civil war comes. Let it go on. We won’t be blamed. We’ll either have gone or slip out from under somehow.
Speech to the Rotary Club,
16th November, 1968

At present large numbers of the offspring of immigrants, even those born here in Britain, remain integrated in the immigrant community which links them with their homeland overseas. With every passing year this will diminish. Sometimes people point to the increasing proportion of immigrant offspring born in this country as if the fact contained within itself the ultimate solution. The truth is the opposite. The West Indian or Asian does not, by being born in England, become an Englishman. In law he becomes a United Kingdom citizen by birth; in fact he is a West Indian or an Asian still. Unless he be one of the small minority – for number, I repeat again and again, is of the essence – he will by the very nature of things have lost one country without gaining another, lost one nationality without acquiring a new one. Time is running against us and them. With the lapse of a generation or so we shall at last have succeeded – to the benefit of nobody – in reproducing ‘in England’s green and pleasant land’ the haunting tragedy of the United States.
Andrew Marr, "A History of Modern Britain" (a very good book, by the way)

Those who knew him best insist he was not a racialist. The newspaper editor Clem Jones, who tried and failed to track down the little old lady chased by 'piccaninnies' from Powell's speech nevertheless said 'he was never a racist.'
Enoch Powell in 1995, three years before his death in an interview with Michael Cockerell.
What's wrong with racism? Racism is the basis of nationality.
Michael Cockerell asked him if a black person could be British.
It is not impossible. It is difficult.
David Goodhart:
Many of his contemporaries, including Michael Foot, cleared him of the accusation of racism, but racist in those days often meant someone who was personally hostile towards people from other races. 
Douglas Murray's opinion on the Rivers of Blood speech is here.

1 comment:

  1. This is very worth reading: