Enoch Powell

All government rests also upon upon habit, upon being exercised in the same way or a similar way to that in which the governed remember or believe that it was exercised before.

John Enoch Powell (16 June 19128 February 1998) was a British politician and Conservative Party MP between 1950 and February 1974, and an Ulster Unionist MP between October 1974 and 1987.

QuotesEdit

Independence, the freedom of a self-governing nation, is in my estimation the highest political good, for which any disadvantage, if need be, and any sacrifice are a cheap price.
Values exist in a transcendental realm, beyond space and time. They can neither be fought for, nor destroyed.
Some of us personally witnessed what was done on the continent under that sign and it is a symbol we shall never forget
  • [In Italy, when every sentence is liable to be scanned for traces of anti-Fascist sentiment] it is obviously safer to begin by choosing a more congenial subject than a free Athens or a free Rome. In Germany the effect of National-Socialism has been the opposite. Racial doctrines and political antipathy to the whole Roman Empire and its cognate ideas have had the result of discouraging study of the Italic peoples and of Rome, the mistress of the world. On the other hand, a peculiar kinship has been detected between the ancient Greeks and modern Germans. Not only the Greek civilization in general, but Thucydides in particular, has proved exceptionally congenial. The intensely political outlook of Thucydides may be made serviceable to a doctrine which asserts the absolute dominion of the State over every phase of individual existence; and, as the more striking figures of Caesar and Augustus had already been captured as prototypes by Mussolini, Hitler might well be made to look very like Pericles—or Pericles, rather, to look like Hitler.
    • "The War and its Aftermath in their influence on Thucydidean Studies", address given to the Classical Association at Westminster School (4 January 1936), from The Times (6 January 1936), p. 8.
  • The world has recently been treated for nearly a decade to the unusual spectacle of a great empire deliberately taking every possible step to secure its own destruction, because its citizens were so obsessed by prejudice, or incapable of thinking for themselves, as never to perform the few logical steps necessary for proving that they would shortly be involved in a guerre à outrance, which could be neither averted nor escaped.
    • Powell's inaugural lecture as Professor of Greek (7 May 1938), from Greek in the University. An Inaugural Lecture (Oxford University Press, 1938), p. 9.
  • I do here in the most solemn and bitter manner curse the Prime Minister of England for having cumulated all his other betrayals of the national interest and honour, by his last terrible exhibition of dishonour, weakness and gullibility. The depths of infamy which our accurst "love of peace" can lower us are unfathomable.
    • Letter to his parents (18 September 1938) after Neville Chamberlain's meeting with Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden, from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 47.
  • It is the English, not their Government; for if they were not blind cowards, they would lynch Chamberlain and Halifax and all the other smarmy traitors.
    • Letter to his parents (27 June 1939), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 53.
  • The thought struck me for the first time today that our duty to our country may not terminate with the peace – apart, I mean, from the duty of begetting children to bear arms for the King in the next generation. To be more explicit, I see growing on the horizon the greater peril than Germany or Japan ever were; and if the present hostilities do not actually merge into a war with our terrible enemy, America, it will remain for those of us who have the necessary knowledge and insight to do what we can where we can to help Britain be victorious again in her next crisis.
    • Letter to his parents (16 February 1943), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 75.
  • You have never expressed any decided political opinions, and indeed I do not know if or how far you assent to the proposition that almost unlimited sacrifices of individual life and happiness are worth while to preserve the unique structure of power of which the keystone (the only conceivable and indispensable keystone) is the English Crown. I for my part find it the nearest thing in the world to an absolute (as opposed to a relative) value: it is like the outer circle that bound my universe, so that I cannot conceive anything beyond it.
    • Letter to his parents (9 March 1943), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 75.
  • The continuance of India within the British Empire is essential to the Empire's existence and is consequently a paramount interest both of the United Kingdom and of the Dominions...for strategic purposes there is no half-way house between an India fully within the Empire and an India totally outside it...Should it once be admitted or proved that Indians cannot govern themselves except by leaving the Empire – in other words, that the necessary goal of political development for the most important section of His Majesty's non-European subjects is independence and not Dominion status – then the logically inevitable outcome will be the eventual and probably the rapid loss to the Empire of all its other non-European parts. It would extinguish the hope of a lasting union between "white" and "coloured" which the conception of a common subjectship to the King-Emperor affords and to which the development of the Empire hitherto has given the prospect of leading...In discussion of the wealth of India it is usual to forget the principal item, which is four hundred millions of human beings, for the most part belonging to races neither unintelligent nor slothful...[British policy should be to] create the preconditions of democracy and self-government by as soon as possible making India socially and economically a modern state.
    • Memorandum on Indian Policy (16 May 1946), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), pp. 104-105.
  • I believe a second factor which has weighed heavily in this matter is the attitude, or supposed attitude, of the United States. I confess that I am not greatly moved by this. Whatever may be the attitude of the American Government and public to the United Kingdom as such, my view of American policy over the last decade has been that it has been steadily and relentlessly directed towards the weakening and the destruction of the links which bind the British Empire together. [Cyril Osborne: "No!"] We can watch the events as they unfold and place our own interpretation on them. My interpretation is that the United States has for this country, considered separately, a very considerable economic and strategic use but that she sees little or no strategic use or economic value in the British Empire or the British Commonwealth as it has existed and as it still exists. Against the background I ask the House to consider the evidence of advancing American imperialism in this area from which they are helping to eliminate us.
    • Speech on the British evacuation of the Suez Canal, 1953 (Hansard, 520:347-8.), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 188.
  • It is no accident that the Labour Party of 1964 should share this craving for autarchy, for economic self-sufficiency, with the pre-war Fascist régimes and the present-day Communist states. They are all at heart totalitarian.
    • Speech to the Dulwich Conservative Association (29 February 1964), from A Nation Not Afraid. The Thinking of Enoch Powell (B. T. Batsford Ltd, 1965), p. 75.
  • In the end, the Labour party could cease to represent labour. Stranger historic ironies have happened than that.
    • Article for The Sunday Telegraph, citing the swing to the Conservatives in his constituency and others with large working-class electorates (18 October 1964), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 364.
  • The happiest and most glorious hours of my life with books have been with German books.
    • The Observer (24 April 1966).
  • Once you go nuclear at all, you go nuclear for good; and you know it. Here is the parting of the ways, for from this point two opposite conclusions can be drawn. One is that therefore there can never again be serious war of any duration between Western nations, including Russia—in particular, that there can never again be serious war on the Continent of Europe or the waters around it, which an enemy must master in order to threaten Britain. That is the Government's position. The other conclusion, therefore, is that resort is most unlikely to be had to nuclear weapons at all, but that war could nevertheless develop as if they did not exist, except of course that it would be so conducted as to minimise any possibility of misapprehension that the use of nuclear weapons was imminent or had begun. The crucial question is whether there is any stage of a European war at which any nation would choose self-annihiliation in preference to prolonging the struggle. The Secretary of State says, "Yes, the loser or likely loser would almost instantly choose self-annihiliation." I say, "No. The probability, though not the certainty, but surely at least the possibility, is that no such point would come, whatever the course of the conflict."
  • It is advertising that enthrones the customer as king. This infuriates the socialist...[it is] the crossing of the boundary between West Berlin and East Berlin. It is Checkpoint Charlie, or rather Checkpoint Douglas, the transition from the world of choice and freedom to the world of drab, standard uniformity.
    • Attacking the Labour President of the Board of Trade, Douglas Jay, who wanted to standardise packaging for detergents. (The Daily Telegraph 29 April 1967); from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 430.
  • All government rests upon consent, and consent is not to be had without taking counsel with the most eminent or influential or representative of the governed, and seeking their advice: the act of taking counsel cannot be separated from the act of exercising authority. All government rests also upon upon habit, upon being exercised in the same way or a similar way to that in which the governed remember or believe that it was exercised before. Brute force can break with habit; but as soon as brute force begins to turn into government, it does so by starting to observe habitual modes of behaviour. Habitual forms or institutions for counsel and consent are thus of the essence of government.
    • Introduction to his book The House of Lords in the Middle Ages (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1968), p. xi.
  • I hope those who shouted "Fascist" and "Nazi" are aware that before they were born I was fighting against Fascism and Nazism.
    • Remarks to student hecklers at a speech in Cardiff (8 November 1968), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 489.
  • As so often, the ordinary rank and file of the electorate have seen a truth, an important fact, which has escaped so many more clever people—the underlying value of that which is traditional, that which is prescriptive.
    • Speech to the House of Commons regarding proposals for reforming the House of Lords on 19 November 1968 (Hansard, 773:1168), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 497.
  • ...it depends indeed on whether the immigrants are different, and different in important respects from the existing population. Clearly, if they are identical, then no change for the good or bad can be brought about by the immigration. But if they are different, and to the extent that they are different, then numbers clearly are of the essence and this is not wholly – or mainly, necessarily – a matter of colour. For example, if the immigrants were Germans or Russians, their colour would be approximately the same as ours, but the problems which would be created and the change which could be brought about by a large introduction of a bloc of Germans or Russians into five areas in this country would be as serious – and in some respects more serious – than could follow from an introduction of a similar number of West Indians or Pakistanis.
    • Any Questions?, BBC Radio (29 November 1968), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (London: Bellew, 1991), p. 395.
  • Enoch Powell: Now, we were invaded by the Danes, they did alter the country and we fought them for two hundred years. If that's what is meant – to be allowed to happen?
    Marghanita Laski: Were we wise to do so? Didn't they add to us in the end? Wasn't there much more suffering and misery because we fought them?
    Enoch Powell: Only because we fought them, and eventually subjugated them and Christianised them. (applause)
    • Any Questions?, BBC Radio (29 November 1968), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (London: Bellew, 1991), p. 396.
  • It depends on how you define the word "racialist." 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."
    • When asked by David Frost if he was a racialist (3 January 1969), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 504.
  • They tell us we must be prepared to contemplate, in fact to welcome, the alteration and alienation of our towns and cities. They tell us there is no such thing as our own people and our country. Indeed there is, and I say it in no mean or arrogant or exclusive spirit. What I know is that we have an identity of our own, as we have a territory of our own, and that the instinct to preserve that identity, as to defend that territory, is one of the deepest and strongest implanted in mankind. I happen also to believe that the instinct is good and that its beneficent effects are not exhausted...In our time that identity has been threatened more than once. In the past it was threatened by violence and aggression from without. It is now threatened from within by the foreseeable consequences of a massive but unpremeditated and fortunately, in substantial measure, reversible immigration.
    • Speech in Wolverhampton (8 June 1969), quoted in The Times (9 June 1969), p. 3.
  • 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.
    • The Great Debate, BBC TV (9 September 1969), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (London: Bellew, 1991), pp. 399-400.
  • Compassion is something individual and voluntary. You cannot compel somebody to be compassionate; nor can you be vicariously compassionate by compelling somebody else. The Good Samaritan would have lost all merit if a Roman soldier were standing by the road with a drawn sword, telling him to get on with it and look after the injured stranger. Because there can be no such thing as compulsory compassion or vicarious compassion, therefore it is a humbugging abuse of language, intended to deceive, to talk about a 'compassionate Government' or a 'compassionate party'—or even a 'compassionate society', unless one simply means by that a society which happens to contain a lot of compassionate individuals. Nor let anyone protest: 'Oh, but when I vote for a party which will "make provision on an unprecedented scale for those in need of help", it means I too shall have to pay my whack and so I am being compassionate after all'. Nonsense! The purpose of your vote is not to make yourself subscribe—that you can freely do at any time—but to compel others.
    • Speech to the Harborough Division Conservative Association Gala, Leicester (27 September 1969), from Still to Decide (Elliot Right Way Books, 1972), pp. 22-3.
  • It is of the nature of all internecine violence that it lives on hope. Violence feeds upon the hope of success ... violence will not continue indefinitely where the objects which it proposes to itself appear to be unattainable, or at any rate unattainable within a predictable future. The Government in Northern Ireland and the Government in this country actually assist violence and strengthen it in so far as they appear to act and appear to reform under the pressure of violence... [The Government should ensure that] neither by word nor deed do we treat the membership of the Six Counties in the United Kingdom as negotiable. Every word or act which holds out the prospect that their unity with the rest of the United Kingdom might be negotiable is itself, consciously or unconsciously, a contributory cause to the continuation of violence in Northern Ireland.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, 7 April 1970 (Hansard, 799:290-1), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 551.
  • All that I will say is that in 1939 I voluntarily returned from Australia to this country to serve as a private soldier in the war against Germany and Nazism. I am the same man today... It does not follow that because a person resident in this country is not English that he does not enjoy equal treatment before the law and public authorities. I set my face like flint against discrimination.
    • Reacting to Tony Benn's speech that "the flag hoisted at Wolverhampton [Powell's constituency] is beginning to look like the one that fluttered over Dachau and Belsen" (3 June 1970), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 556.
  • Some of us personally witnessed what was done on the continent under that sign and it is a symbol we shall never forget.
    • Reacting to a youth who had given the Hitler salute; from a speech in Wolverhampton (6 June 1970), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 558.
  • It so happens that I never talk about race. I do not know what race is.
    • The Guardian (6 June 1970).
  • Have you ever wondered, perhaps, why opinions which the majority of people quite naturally hold are, if anyone dares express them publicly, denounced as 'controversial, 'extremist', 'explosive', 'disgraceful', and overwhelmed with a violence and venom quite unknown to debate on mere political issues? It is because the whole power of the aggressor depends upon preventing people from seeing what is happening and from saying what they see.

    The most perfect, and the most dangerous, example of this process is the subject miscalled, and deliberately miscalled, 'race'. The people of this country are told that they must feel neither alarm nor objection to a West Indian, African and Asian population which will rise to several millions being introduced into this country. If they do, they are 'prejudiced', 'racialist'... A current situation, and a future prospect, which only a few years ago would have appeared to everyone not merely intolerable but frankly incredible, has to be represented as if welcomed by all rational and right-thinking people. The public are literally made to say that black is white. Newspapers like the Sunday Times denounce it as 'spouting the fantasies of racial purity' to say that a child born of English parents in Peking is not Chinese but English, or that a child born of Indian parents in Birmingham is not English but Indian. It is even heresy to assert the plain fact that the English are a white nation. Whether those who take part know it or not, this process of brainwashing by repetition of manifest absurdities is a sinister and deadly weapon. In the end, it renders the majority, who are marked down to be the victims of violence or revolution or tyranny, incapable of self-defence by depriving them of their wits and convincing them that what they thought was right is wrong. The process has already gone perilously far, when political parties at a general election dare not discuss a subject which results from and depends on political action and which for millions of electors transcends all others in importance; or when party leaders can be mesmerised into accepting from the enemy the slogans of 'racialist' and 'unChristian' and applying them to lifelong political colleagues...

    In the universities, we are told that education and the discipline ought to be determined by the students, and that the representatives of the students ought effectively to manage the institutions. This is nonsense—manifest, arrant nonsense; but it is nonsense which it is already obligatory for academics and journalists, politicians and parties, to accept and mouth upon pain of verbal denunciation and physical duress.

    We are told that the economic achievement of the Western countries has been at the expense of the rest of the world and has impoverished them, so that what are called the 'developed' countries owe a duty to hand over tax-produced 'aid' to the governments of the undeveloped countries. It is nonsense—manifest, arrant nonsense; but it is nonsense with which the people of the Western countries, clergy and laity, but clergy especially—have been so deluged and saturated that in the end they feel ashamed of what the brains and energy of Western mankind have done, and sink on their knees to apologise for being civilised and ask to be insulted and humiliated.

    Then there is the 'civil rights' nonsense. In Ulster we are told that the deliberate destruction by fire and riot of areas of ordinary property is due to the dissatisfaction over allocation of council houses and opportunities for employment. It is nonsense—manifest, arrant nonsense; but that has not prevented the Parliament and government of the United Kingdom from undermining the morale of civil government in Northern Ireland by imputing to it the blame for anarchy and violence.

    Most cynically of all, we are told, and told by bishops forsooth, that communist countries are the upholders of human rights and guardians of individual liberty, but that large numbers of people in this country would be outraged by the spectacle of cricket matches being played here against South Africans. It is nonsense—manifest, arrant nonsense; but that did not prevent a British Prime Minister and a British Home Secretary from adopting it as acknowledged fact.

    • The "enemy within" speech during the 1970 general election campaign; speech to the Turves Green Girls School, Northfield, Birmingham (13 June 1970), from Still to Decide (Eliot Right Way Books, 1972), pp. 36-37.
  • A single currency means a single government, and that single government would be the government whose policies determined every aspect of economic life.
    • Speech in Tamworth (15 June 1970), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 563.
  • Now, at present Britain has no V.A.T., and the questions whether this new tax should be introduced, how it should be levied, and what should be its scope, would be matters of debate in the country and in Parliament. The essence of parliamentary democracy lies in the power to debate and impose taxation: it is the vital principle of the British House of Commons, from which all other aspects of its sovereignty ultimately derive. With Britain in the community, one important element of taxation would be taken automatically, necessarily and permanently out of the hands of the House of Commons...Those matters which sovereign parliaments debate and decide must be debated and decided not by the British House of Commons but in some other place, and by some other body, and debated and decided once for the whole Community...it is a fact that the British Parliament and its paramount authority occupies a position in relation to the British nation which no other elective assembly in Europe possesses. Take parliament out of the history of England and that history itself becomes meaningless. Whole lifetimes of study cannot exhaust the reasons why this fact has come to be, but fact it is, so that the British nation could not imagine itself except with and through its parliament. Consequently the sovereignty of our parliament is something other for us than what your assemblies are for you. What is equally significant, your assemblies, unlike the British Parliament, are the creation of deliberate political acts, and most of recent political acts. The notion that a new sovereign body can be created is therefore as familiar to you as it is repugnant, not to say unimaginable, to us. This deliberate, and recent, creation of sovereign assemblies on the continent is in turn an aspect of the fact that the continent is familiar, and familiar in the recent past, with the creation of nation states themselves. Four of the six members of the Community came into existence as such no more than a century or a century and a half ago – within the memory of two lifetimes.
    • Speech in Lyons (12 February 1971), from The Common Market: The Case Against (Elliot Right Way Books, 1971), pp. 65-68.
  • An essential element in forming a single electorate is the sense that in the last resort all parts of it stand, or fall, survive or perish, together. This sense the British do not share with the inhabitants of the continent of Western Europe. Of all the nations of Europe Britain and Russia alone, though for opposite reasons, have this in common: they can be defeated in the decisive land battle and still survive. This characteristic Russia owes to her immensity. Britain owes it to her ditch. The British feel – and I believe that instinct corresponds with sound military reason – that the ditch is as significant in what we call the nuclear age as it proved to be in the air age and had been in the age of the Grande Armée of Napoleon or the Spanish infantry of Philip II. Error or truth, myth or reality, the belief itself is a habit of mind which has helped to form the national identity of the British and cannot be divorced from it.
    • Speech in Lyons (12 February 1971), from The Common Market: The Case Against (Elliot Right Way Books, 1971), pp. 68-69.
  • So long as the figures 'now superseded' and the academic projections based upon them held sway, it was possible for politicians to shrug their shoulders. With so much of immediate and indisputable importance on their hands, why should they attend to what was forecast for the end of the century, when most of them would be not only out of office but dead and gone? ... It was not for them to heed the cries of anguish from those of their own people who already saw their towns being changed, their native places turned into foreign lands, and themselves displaced as if by a systematic colonisation. For these the much vaunted compassion of the parties and politicians was not available: the parties and the politicians preferred to be busy making speeches on race relations; and if any of their number dared to tell them the truth, even less than the whole truth, about what was happening and what would happen here in England, they denounced them as racialist and turned them out of doors. They could feel safe; for they said in their hearts: 'If trouble comes, it will not be in our time; let the next generation see to it!' ... The explosive which will blow us asunder is there and the fuse is burning, but the fuse is shorter than had been supposed. The transformation which I referred to earlier as being without even a remote parallel in our history, the occupation of the hearts of this metropolis and of towns and cities across England by a coloured population amounting to millions, this before long will be past denying. It is possible that the people of this country will, with good or ill grace, accept what they did not ask for, did not want and were not told of. My own judgment—it is a judgment which the politician has a duty to form to the best of his ability—I have not feared to give: it is—to use words I used two years and a half ago—that 'the people of England will not endure it'.
    • Speech to the Carshalton and Banstead Young Conservatives at Carshalton Hall (15 February 1971), from Still to Decide (Eliot Right Way Books, 1972), pp. 202-203.
  • One of the most dangerous words is 'extremist'. A person who commits acts of violence is not an 'extremist'; he is a criminal. If he commits those acts of violence with the object of detaching part of the territory of the United Kingdom and attaching it to a foreign country, he is an enemy under arms. There is the world of difference between a citizen who commits a crime, in the belief, however mistaken, that he is thereby helping to preserve the integrity of his country and his right to remain a subject of his sovereign, and a person, be he citizen or alien, who commits a crime with the intention of destroying that integrity and rendering impossible that allegiance. The former breaches the peace; the latter is executing an act of war. The use of the word 'extremist' of either or both conveys a dangerous untruth: it implies that both hold acceptable opinions and seek permissible ends, only that they carry them to 'extremes'. Not so: the one is a lawbreaker; the other is an enemy.

    The same purpose, that of rendering friend and foe indistinguishable, is achieved by references to the 'impartiality' of the British troops and to their function as 'keeping the peace'. The British forces are in Northern Ireland because an avowed enemy is using force of arms to break down lawful authority in the province and thereby seize control. The army cannot be 'impartial' towards an enemy, nor between the aggressor and the aggressed: they are not glorified policemen, restraining two sets of citizens who might otherwise do one another harm, and duty bound to show no 'partiality' towards one lawbreaker rather than another. They are engaged in defeating an armed attack upon the state. Once again, the terminology is designed to obliterate the vital difference between friend and enemy, loyal and disloyal.

    Then there are the 'no-go' areas which have existed for the past eighteen months. It would be incredible, if it had not actually happened, that for a year and a half there should be areas in the United Kingdom where the Queen's writ does not run and where the citizen is protected, if protected at all, by persons and powers unknown to the law. If these areas were described as what they are—namely, pockets of territory occupied by the enemy, as surely as if they had been captured and held by parachute troops—then perhaps it would be realised how preposterous is the situation. In fact the policy of refraining from the re-establishment of civil government in these areas is as wise as it would be to leave enemy posts undisturbed behind one's lines.

    • Speech to the South Buckinghamshire Conservative Women's Annual Luncheon in Beaconsfield (19 March 1971), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (London: Bellew, 1991), pp. 487-488.
  • ...when the empire dissolved...the people of Britain suffered from a kind of vertigo: they could not believe that they were standing upright, and reached out for something to clutch. It seemed axiomatic that economically, as well as politically, they must be part of something bigger, though the deduction was as unfounded as the premise. So some cried: 'Revive the Commonwealth'. And others cried: 'Let's go in with America into a North Atlantic Free Trade Area'. Yet others again cried: 'We have to go into Europe: there's no real alternative'. In a sense they were right: there is no alternative grouping. In a more important sense they were wrong: there is no need for joining anything. A Britain which is ready to exchange goods, services and capital as freely as it can with the rest of the world is neither isolated nor isolationist. It is not, in the sneering phrases of Chamberlain's day, 'Little England'...The Community is not a free trade area, which is what Britain, with a correct instinct, tried vainly to convert it into, or combine it into, in 1957-60. For long afterwards indeed many Britons continued to cherish the delusion that it really was a glorified free trade area and would turn out to be nothing more. On the contrary the Community is, what its name declares, a prospective economic unit. But an economic unit is not defined by economics – there are no natural economic units – it is defined by politics. What we call an economic unit is really a political unit viewed in its economic aspect: the unit is political.
    • Speech in Frankfurt (29 March 1971), from The Common Market: The Case Against (Elliot Right Way Books, 1971), pp. 76-77.
  • The prospect of a Russian conquest of Western Europe is one for which history affords no material. The theory that the Russians have not advanced from the Elbe to the Atlantic because of the nuclear deterrent is not more convincing than the theory that they have not done so because they do not want to do so and have never envisaged, unless perhaps in terms of world revolution, a Russian hegemony in Western Europe... Of all the nations of Europe, Britain and Russia are the only ones, though for opposite reasons, which have this thing in common: that they can be defeated in the decisive land battle and still survive. This characteristic, which Russia owes to her immensity, Britain owes to her moat.
    • Speech to The Hague (17 May 1971), from The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (Elliot Right Way Books, 1973), p. 97, p. 100.
  • In your town, in mine, in Wolverhampton, in Smethwick, in Birmingham, people see with their own eyes what they dread, the transformation during their own lifetime or, if they are already old, during their children's, of towns, cities and areas that they know into alien territory...Of the great multitude, numbering already two million, of West Indians and Asians in England, it is no more true to say that England is their country than it would be to say that the West Indies, or Pakistan, or India are our country. In these great numbers they are, and remain, alien here as we would be in Kingston or in Delhi; indeed, with the growth of concentrated numbers, the alienness grows, not by choice but by necessity. It is a human fact which good will, tolerance, comprehension and all the social virtues do not touch. The process is that of an invasion, not, of course, with the connotation either of violence or a premeditated campaign but in the sense that a people find themselves displaced in the only country that is theirs, by those who do have another country and whose home will continue to be elsewhere for successive generations.
    • Speech to the Conservative Supper Club in Smethwick (8 September 1971), from Still to Decide (Eliot Right Way Books, 1972), pp. 189-190.
  • Virtually the entire inflow was therefore Asiatic, and all but three or four thousand of that inflow originated from the Indian subcontinent... It is by 'black Power' that the headlines are caught, and under the shape of the negro that the consequences for Britain of immigration and what is miscalled 'race' are popularly depicted. Yet it is more truly when he looks into the eyes of Asia that the Englishman comes face to face with those who will dispute with him the possession of his native land.
    • Speech to the Southall Chamber of Commerce, Centre Airport Hotel, Middlesex (4 November 1971), from Still to Decide (Eliot Right Way Books, 1972), p. 209.
  • The relevant fact about the history of the British Isles and above all of England is its separateness in a political sense from the history of continental Europe. The English have never belonged to it and have always known that they did not belong. The assertion contains no element of paradox. The Angevin Empire contradicts it as little as the English claim to the throne of France; neither the possession of Gascony nor the inheritance of Hanover made Edward I or George III anything but English sovereigns. When Henry VIII declared that 'this realm of England is an empire (imperium) of itself', he was making not a new claim but a very old one; but he was making it at a very significant point of time. He meant—as Edward I had meant, when he said the same over two hundred years before—that there is an imperium on the continent, but that England is another imperium outside its orbit and is endowed with the plenitude of its own sovereignty. The moment at which Henry VIII repeated this assertion was that of what is misleadingly called 'the reformation'—misleadingly, because it was, and is, essentially a political and not a religious event. The whole subsequent history of Britain and the political character of the British people have taken their colour and trace their unique quality from that moment and that assertion. It was the final decision that no authority, no law, no court outside the realm would be recognised within the realm. When Cardinal Wolsey fell, the last attempt had failed to bring or keep the English nation within the ambit of any external jurisdiction or political power: since then no law has been made for England outside England, and no taxation has been levied in England by or for an authority outside England—or not at least until the proposition that Britain should accede to the Common Market.
    • Speech to The Lions' Club, Brussels (24 January 1972), from The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (Elliot Right Way Books, 1973), pp. 49-50.
  • The Bill ... does manifest some of the major consequences. It shows first that it is an inherent consequence of accession to the Treaty of Rome that this House and Parliament will lose their legislative supremacy. It will no longer be true that law in this country is made only by or with the authority of Parliament... The second consequence ... is that this House loses its exclusive control—upon which its power and authority has been built over the centuries—over taxation and expenditure. In future, if we become part of the Community, moneys received in taxation from the citizens of this country will be spent otherwise than upon a vote of this House and without the opportunity ... to debate grievance and to call for an account of the way in which those moneys are to be spent. For the first time for centuries it will be true to say that the people of this country are not taxed only upon the authority of the House of Commons. The third consequence which is manifest on the face of the Bill, in Clause 3 among other places, is that the judicial independence of this country has to be given up. In future, if we join the Community, the citizens of this country will not only be subject to laws made elsewhere but the applicability of those laws to them will be adjudicated upon elsewhere; and the law made elsewhere and the adjudication elsewhere will override the law which is made here and the decisions of the courts of this realm.
  • Make no mistake, the real power resides not where present authority is exercised but where it is expected that authority will in future be exercised. The magnetic attraction of power is exercised by the prospect long before the reality is achieved; and the trek towards the rising sun, which is already in progress in 1972, would swell to an exodus before long. What do you imagine is the reason why Roy Jenkins is prepared to resign the front bench and divide his party in the endeavour to give a Conservative Prime Minister a majority in the House of Commons? The motive is not ignoble or discreditable—I am not asserting that—but it is a motive which it behoves people in Britain well to understand. It is the ambition to exercise his talents on the stage of Europe and to participate in taking decisions not for Britain here at home but for Europe in Brussels, Paris, Luxembourg or wherever else the imperial pavilions may be pitched. He does not, I assure you, forsee his future triumphs and achievements where his predecessors have seen them in the past – at the despatch box in the House of Commons or in the Cabinet room at Downing St. These are not good enough: the vision splendid beckons elsewhere.
    • Speech at Millom, Cumberland (29 April 1972), from A Nation or No Nation? Six Years in British Politics (Elliot Right Way Books, 1977), p. 42. Jenkins had resigned from the Shadow Cabinet and as deputy leader of the Labour Party due to Labour's opposition to British entry into the EEC. Jenkins wrote to Powell to claim what he said was "totally untrue". Four years later Jenkins would leave front line British politics to become President of the European Commission.
  • The House of Commons is at this moment being asked to agree to the renunciation of its own independence and supreme authority—but not the House of Commons by itself. The House of Commons is the personification of the people of Britain: its independence is synonymous with their independence; its supremacy is synonymous with their self-government and freedom. Through the centuries Britain has created the House of Commons and the House of Commons has moulded Britain, until the history of the one and the life of the one cannot be separated from the history and life of the other. In no other nation in the world is there any comparable relationship. Let no one therefore allow himself to suppose that the life-and-death decision of the House of Commons is some private affair of some privileged institution which at intervals swims into his ken and out of it again. It is the life-and-death decision of Britain itself, as a free, independent and self-governing nation. For weeks, for months the battle on the floor of the House of Commons will swing backwards and forwards, through interminable hours of debates and procedures and votes in the division lobbies; and sure enough the enemies and despisers of the House of Commons will represent it all as some esoteric game or charade which means nothing for the outside world. Do not be deceived. With other weapons and in other ways the contention is as surely about the future of Britain's nationhood as were the combats which raged in the skies over southern England in the autumn of 1940. The gladiators are few; their weapons are but words; and yet the fight is everyman's.
    • Speech at Newton, Montgomeryshire (4 March 1972), from The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (Elliot Right Way Books, 1973), pp. 57-8.
  • ...the power to control the supply of money, which is one of the fundamental aspects of sovereignty, has passed from government into other hands; and therefore new institutions must be set up which will in effect exercise some of the major functions of government. They would set the level of public expenditure, and settle fiscal policy, the exercise of taxing and borrowing powers of the state, since these are indisputedly the mechanism by which the money supply is determined. But they would do more than this. They would be supreme over the economic ends and the social structure of society: for by fixing prices and incomes they would have to replace the entire automatic system of the market and supply and demand—be that good or evil—and put in its place a series of value judgments, economic or social, which they themselves would have to make...There is a specific term for this sort of polity. It is, of course, totalitarian, because it must deliberately and consciously determine the totality of the actions and activities of the members of the community; but it is a particular kind of totalitarian regime, one, namely, in which authority is exercised and the decisions are taken by a hierarchy of unions or corporations—to which, indeed, on this theory the effective power has already passed. For this particular kind of totalitarianism the Twentieth Century has a name. That name is "fascist".
    • Speech in Leamington (18 Sep 1972), quoted in The Times (19 September 1972), p. 12.
  • Does my right hon. Friend not know that it is fatal for any Government or party or person to seek to govern in direct opposition to the principles on which they were entrusted with the right to govern? In introducing a compulsory control of wages and prices, in contravention of the deepest commitments of this party, has my right hon. Friend taken leave of his senses?
  • Independence, the freedom of a self-governing nation, is in my estimation the highest political good, for which any disadvantage, if need be, and any sacrifice are a cheap price.
    • Speech at Stockport (8 June 1973), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 669.
  • The right finds it easy to explain what is and to justify what is, but not to account for change. The left finds it easy to justify change, but not to account for what is, and what is accepted...Parties come and go, governments come and go. But if we lose the power to make and unmake governments, to make and unmake parliaments, then everything else is changed. Even if I were convinced that the result of doing what Michael Foot has described—regaining what we ought never to have given away—even if I were convinced that the result of that would be that we would have Labour administrations for the rest of my lifetime, I would say: well, so be it. But at least we have retained the power to decide under what general principles this nation is going to be governed.
    • On the BBC Radio 4 series Politics in the Seventies (10 June 1973), quoted in The Times (11 June 1973), p. 3.
  • ...when a young Brahmin drew alongside me and after some conversation in Urdu between us, pointed to his home some hundred yards from the road and suggested I go there with him for a drink of water. While my hosts used a brass vessel, I drank from a rough earthen tumbler, which, on thanking them and taking my leave, I smashed on the ground to show that I knew it could not anyhow be used again. 'He is a Hindu,' they said to one another with a smile. There is a sense in which it had been true: the British were married to India, as Venice was married to the sea.
    • Article on Powell's time in India during the Second World War, The Spectator (6 April 1974), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 98.
  • It is the old, old worry: will the British people perceive in time what is happening to them and where they are being taken? If they do, I am not afraid for the outcome. But will they? ... referendum day is certainly not the last chance, because I am sure that, if the result is interpreted as sanctioning Stay In, the events of the following months will open many eyes that are closed at present. Perhaps, however, I might express it this way: if referendum day is not September, 1939, at any rate it is September, 1938. The nation is being invited to confirm the surrender, and the permanent surrender, of its most precious possession: its political independence and parliamentary self-government, and the right to live under laws and to pay taxes authorized only by Parliament and to be governed by policies for which the executive is fully accountable through Parliament to the electorate. Above and beyond all the arguments about butter mountains and Brussels bureaucrats there lies that stark fact, undenied and undeniable.
    • The Times (4 June 1975), p. 14.
  • I do not know if the doctrine that the nation-state arose in the 19th century was still being taught ... but it is erroneous. The nation-state reaches back far into the origins of Europe itself and perhaps beyond. If Europe was not always a Europe of nations, it was always a Europe in which nations existed, and were taken for granted, as a basic form of the State.
    • The Daily Telegraph (9 June 1975), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), p. 144.
  • I do not believe that the loyalty of those many who over those 270 years, and particularly in this century, worked together and died together as part of the union under the Crown, was to the Crown quite simply, even though they wore the Crown on their uniforms and many of them wore it on their hearts. They were not the mercenaries of a Habsburg empire bound together by personal union and dynastic marriages; they were not the servants of a Hohenzollern empire imposed by military force. It was the Crown of the United Kingdom in parliament which was the centre of loyalty, as it is the essential unifying element of this realm, in the name of which and under the inspiration of which men and women these 270 years have worked and lived and died together.
    • Speech in the House of Commons against devolution to Scotland, January 1976. (Hansard, 903:1006.), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 768.
  • The nation has been, and is still being, eroded and hollowed out from within by the implantation of large unassimilated and unassimiliable populations—what Lord Radcliffe once in a memorable phrase called "alien wedges"—in the heartland of the state...The disruption of the homogeneous "we", which forms the essential basis of parliamentary democracy and therefore of our liberties, is now approaching the point at which the political mechanics of a "divided community"...take charge and begin to operate autonomously. Let me illustrate this pathology of a society that is being eaten alive...The two active ingredients are grievance and violence. Where a community is divided, grievance is for practical purposes inexhaustible. When violence is injected—and quite a little will suffice for a start—there begins an escalating competition to discover grievance and to remove it. The materials lie ready to hand in a multiplicity of agencies with a vested interest, more or less benevolent, in the process of discovering grievances and demanding their removal. The spiral is easily maintained in upward movement by the repetitions and escalation of violence. At each stage alienation between the various elements of society is increased, and the constant disappointment that the imagined remedies yield a reverse result leads to growing bitterness and despair. Hand in hand with the exploitation of grievance goes the equally counterproductive process which will no doubt, as usual, be called the "search for a political solution"...Indeed, attention has already been drawn publicly to the potentially critical factor of the so-called immigrant vote in an increasing number of worthwhile constituencies. The result is that the political parties of the indigenous population vie with one another for votes by promising remedy of the grievances which are being uncovered and exploited in the context of actual or threatened violence. Thus the legislature finds itself in effect manipulated by minorities instead of responding to majorities, and is watched by the public at large with a bewildering and frustration, not to say cynicism, of which the experience of legislation hitherto in the field of immigration and race relations afford some pale idea...I need not follow the analysis further in order to demonstrate how parliamentary democracy disintegrates when the national homogeneity of the electorate is broken by a large and sharp alteration in the composition of the population. While the institutions and liberties on which British liberty depends are being progressively surrendered to the European superstate, the forces which will sap and destroy them from within are allowed to accumulate unchecked. And all the time we are invited to direct towards Angola or Siberia the anxious attention that the real danger within our power and our borders imperatively demand.
    • Speech the Hampshire Monday Club in Southampton (9 April 1976), from A Nation or No Nation? Six Years in British Politics (Elliot Right Way Books, 1977), pp. 165-166.
  • Yet even though that picture is dark and darkening, there is one factor which has not yet been injected. I do not know whether it will be tomorrow, or next year, or in five years; but it will come. That factor is firearms and explosives. With communities which are so divided nothing can prevent the injection of explosives which we know perfectly well from experience in other parts of the United Kingdom and the world. At first there will be horrified astonishment, and inquiry as to what we have done wrong that such things should be happening. Then there will be feverish endeavour to find methods to allay the supposed grievances which lie behind the violence. Then follows exploitation by those who use violence of the ascendancy they have thus gained over the majority and over authority. The thing goes forward, acting and reacting, until a position is reached in which—I shall dare say it—compared with those areas, Belfast today will seem an enviable place.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the consequences of immigration (24 May 1976), from A Nation or No Nation? Six Years in British Politics (Elliot Right Way Books, 1977), p. 161.
  • The clause is an example of one of the most prevalent and damaging fallacies in this whole subject—the fallacy of supposing that the consequences that are apprehended from the massive substitution, in various parts of the country, for the indigenous population of a population from overseas are either due to what is called physical deprivation, poverty, and so on, or can be in any way alleviated, avoided or foreclosed by material provision...It is by no means true that the areas of maximum New Commonwealth immigrant entry—the locations of what Lord Radcliffe many years ago called "the alien wedge"—are characteristically or specifically coincident with the areas of greatest poverty and desuetude in our cities. In some cases the two coincide. Sometimes, naturally, this happens in the central and rundown areas—run down because they are central—that because they are central it is in those areas that major immigrant populations are found...Over and over again this easy illusion has been propounded, and as often experience has disposed of it. It is not because people are poor, to the extent that they are poor, and it is not because they live in the streets of the inner cities, in which the indigenous population of this country has lived—gradually improving, and in some cases rapidly improving over generations—that we apprehend what will be the consequence when one-third of some of the major cities and industrial areas of our country is in New Commonwealth occupation. It is because of human differences. It is because of the clash and contrast between two populations which contend for the same territory.
  • Those who catch faint glimpses, in Birmingham or Notting Hill, of what others have dreaded for years, those who find themselves strangers and aliens in one familiar area after another of an English town or city, those who hear from others' lips with diminishing incredulity the circumstances in which less fortunate fellow-citizens live, should repeat to themselves over and over again one single sentence, sad, simple and true: "You have seen nothing yet". Then let them give to those who presume to represent and govern them no peace and no respite until they have led the nation from under the shadow of the disaster which overhangs it.
    • Speech to the Surrey Branch of the Monday Club in Croydon (4 October 1976), from A Nation or No Nation? Six Years in British Politics (Elliot Right Way Books, 1977), p. 174.
  • To tell the indigenous inhabitants of Brixton or Southall or Leicester or Bradford or Birmingham or Wolverhampton, to tell the pensioners ending their days in streets of nightly terror unrecognisable as their former neighbourhoods, to tell the people of towns and cities where whole districts have been transformed into enclaves of foreign lands, that "the man with a coloured face could be an enrichment to my life and that of my neighbours" is to drive them beyond the limits of endurance. It is not so much that it is obvious twaddle. It is that it makes cruel mockery of the experience and fears of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of ordinary, decent men and women...In understanding this matter, the beginning of wisdom is to grasp the law that in human societies power is never left unclaimed and unused. It does not blow about, like wastepaper on the streets, ownerless and inert. Men's nature is not only, as Thucydides long ago asserted, to exert power where they have it: men cannot help themselves from exerting power where they have it, whether they want to or not...It is the business of the leaders of distinct and separate populations to see that the power which they possess is used to benefit those for whom they speak. Leaders who fail to do so, or to do so fast enough, find themselves outflanked and superseded by those who are less squeamish. The Gresham's Law of extremism, that the more extreme drives out the less extreme, is one of the basic rules of political mechanics which operate in this field: it is a corollary of the general principle that no political power exist without being used. Both the general law and its Gresham's corollary point, in contemporary circumstances, towards the resort to physical violence, in the form of firearms or high explosive, as being so probable as to be predicted with virtual certainty. The experience of the last decade and more, all round the world, shows that acts of violence, however apparently irrational or inappropriate their targets, precipitate a frenzied search on the part of the society attacked to discover and remedy more and more grievances, real or imaginary, among those from whom the violence is supposed to emanate or on whose behalf it is supposed to be exercised. Those commanding a position of political leverage would then be superhuman if they could refrain from pointing to the acts of terrorism and, while condemning them, declaring that further and faster concessions and grants of privilege are the only means to avoid such acts being repeated on a rising scale. This is what produces the gearing effect of terrorism in the contemporary world, yielding huge results from acts of violence perpetrated by minimal numbers. It is not, I repeat again and again, that the mass of a particular population are violently or criminally disposed. Far from it; that population soon becomes itself the prisoner of the violence and machinations of an infinitely small minority among it. Just a few thugs, a few shots, a few bombs at the right place and time – and that is enough for disproportionate consequences to follow.
    • Speech to the Stretford Young Conservatives (21 January 1977), from A Nation or No Nation? Six Years in British Politics (Elliot Right Way Books, 1977), pp. 168-171.
  • There is a peculiar atmosphere in the Committee this afternoon that I do not think that I am the only one to have sensed. It is not an agreeable atmosphere; it is an atmosphere of a certain embarrassment, or even suppressed tension. For a time I was striving to locate the parallel atmosphere of which I was being reminded. Then, suddenly, it occurred to me what it was. It is an atmosphere that will be familiar to nearly all hon. Members who have suffered a near and severe bereavement. We are in the circumstances of a household, between a decease and a funeral when the body is still in the house.
    • Hansard HC 5ser vol 926 cols 1690-1, speech in the House of Commons on the Scotland and Wales Bill (24 February 1977). Two days previously a guillotine motion for the Bill had been defeated and it was generally accepted that there was no chance of the Bill being passed that session.
  • All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.
    • Enoch Powell, Joseph Chamberlain (Thames and Hudson, 1977), p. 151.
  • It is one of history's most mocking ironies that the German customs union, which set out to dominate Europe and conquer Britain in the form of Bismarckian or Hitlerian military force, has at last vanquished the victor by drawing Britain into a Zollverein which comprises Western Europe and aspires to comprise the Mediterranean as well. If the ghosts of the Hohenzollerns come back to haunt this planet, they must find a lot to laugh at.
    • Speech in Grimsby (20 May 1977), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), p. 93.
  • What happens then when majorities in the directly elected European Assembly take decisions, or approve policies, or vote budgets which are regarded by the British electorate or by the electorate of some of the mammoth constituencies as highly offensive and prejudicial to their interests? What do the European MPs say to their constituents? They say: “Don't blame me; I had no say, nor did I and my Labour (or Conservative) colleagues, have any say in the framing of these policies”. He will then either add: “Anyhow, I voted against”; or alternatively he will add: “And don't misunderstand if I voted for this along with my German, French, and Italian pals, because if I don't help roll their logs, I shall never get them to roll any of mine”. What these pseudo-MPs will not be able to say is what any MP in a democracy must be able to say, namely, either “I voted against this, and if the majority of my party are elected next time, we will put it right”, or alternatively, “I supported this because it is part of the policy and programme for which a majority in this constituency and in the country voted at the last election and which we shall be proud to defend at the next election”. Direct elections to the European Assembly, so far from introducing democracy and democratic control, will strengthen the arbitrary and bureaucratic nature of the Community by giving a fallacious garb of elective authority to the exercise of supranational powers by institutions and persons who are – in the literal, not the abusive, sense of the word – irresponsible.
    • Speech in Brighton (24 October 1977), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), pp. 19-20.
  • Of course I am very proud of being a Tory. Yes, in my head and in my heart I regard myself as a Tory. As I have said, I was born that way; I believe it is congenital. I am unable to change it. That is how I see the world... [The EEC] is the most un-Tory thing that can be conceived.
    • Interview by Brian Walden (29 January 1978), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 800.
  • I am one of what must be an increasing number who find the portentous moralisings of A. Solzhenitsyn a bore and an irritation. Scarcely any aspect of life in the countries where he passes his voluntary exile has failed to incur his pessimistic censure. Coming from Russia, where freedom of the press has been not so much unknown as uncomprehended since long before the Revolution, he is shocked to discover that a free press disseminated all kinds of false, partial and invented information and that journalists contradict themselves from one day to the next without shame and without apology. Only a Russian would find all that surprising, or fail to understand that freedom which is not misused is not freedom at all.

    Like all travellers he misunderstands what he observes. It simply is not true that ‘within the Western countries the press has become more powerful than the legislative power, the executive and the judiciary’. The British electorate regularly disprove this by electing governments in the teeth of the hostility and misrepresentation of virtually the whole of the press. Our modern Munchhausen has, however, found a more remarkable mare’s nest still: he has discovered the ‘false slogan, characteristic of a false era, that everyone is entitled to know everything’. Excited by this discovery he announces a novel and profound moral principle, a new addendum to the catalogue of human rights. ‘People,’ he says, ‘have a right not to know, and it is a more valuable one.’ Not merely morality but theology illuminates the theme: people have, say Solzhenitsyn, ‘the right not to have their divine souls’ burdened with ‘the excessive flow of information’.

    Just so. Whatever may the case in Russia, we in the degenerate West can switch off the radio or television, or not buy a newspaper, or not read such parts of it as we do not wish to. I can assure Solzhenitsyn that the method works admirably, ‘right’ or ‘no right’. I know, because I have applied it with complete success to his own speeches and writings.

    • Letter in answer to Solzhenitsyn's Harvard statement (21 June 1978), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (London: Bellew, 1991), p. 577.
  • Might I indicate the difficulty which some of us feel over collective compassion? The good Samaritan had compassion. If two good Samaritans had compassion, that would still be individual compassion, not collective compassion. If the good Samaritan had been obliged by decree of the Roman Emperor to assist the traveller, that would not be compassion at all, because it would be done under obligation.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, 1979 (Hansard, 967:963), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 824.
  • Robin Day: So you would say, would you – I hope I am not misrepresenting you – that the question of parliamentary sovereignty and national sovereignty as affected by our membership of the EEC, is the issue on which you would like to see most people have as their reason for voting one way or the other?
    Enoch Powell: Yes, for – in peace as in war, it is the great, the ultimate, question for any nation. If we still are a nation. So really I am inviting the British people and have been these many years, to say whether or not they intend still to be a nation.
    • The Parliamentarians, BBC TV (4 February 1979), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (London: Bellew, 1991), p. 263.
  • I soon came to know in the weary debates and the 104 divisions against the European Communities Bill who it was with whom I shared feelings of anger, outrage and hatred at what was being perpetrated. I am aware that the "Left" is supposed to be motivated only by the desire to be unimpeded by "Europe" in converting Britain into a socialist state; but I am compelled to depose that the instincts and reasoning of the "Left" opponents of membership...were exactly as nationalistic, not to say patriotic, as my own...[I part company with Labour only] because of my blind, high Tory ultimate faith in the people. If they are the people I thought and still want to think that they are, those who represent them will assuredly be pulled back in time from the betrayal of their birthright of parliamentary freedom either to a European state or to a Marxist bureaucracy.
    • The Daily Telegraph (14 September 1980), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 631, p. 840.
  • The nation state is the product of that logic. In England ... it was worked out to its final conclusion at the Henrician reformation, the event by which the English nation state was fully realised. All exertion of authority, whether the making or the enforcement of law, the taking of collective decisions of an executive (i.e. not legislable) character, the imposition and collection of taxes, the judgment of causes—in short, all duress brought to bear by the society upon the individual—proceeds from one source, and that source an internal and native one. The England of Henry VIII found it impossible that its laws should be made, that its causes should be judged, or that a revenue should be procured from it by an external authority. In other words, there was no such thing as external authority: the expression was a contradiction in terms... There is a name for appealing over the head of the Crown to an authority outside the realm, and that name is treason. The word may be disused, but the thing is not; and the penalties of praemunire, which those guilty of it formerly incurred, were not disproportionate to its seriousness.
    • Speech in Lancaster (8 November 1980), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), p. 59, p. 61.
  • The Conservative Party in the House of Commons has played ball with Paisley for 18 months, during which he has sat among them on the government benches but voted against them...For was he not the secret weapon of those who wanted to send Ulster the way of white Rhodesia? ... That is why the Northern Ireland Secretary, Mr Humphrey Atkins, and the Northern Ireland Office spent the first year-and-a-half of this Parliament building up Ian Paisley and whispering to him and to everybody else that he was going to be the big white chief under a new set-up which they planned to introduce. They recognized in him a man with no dedication to the Union, a man who would abuse the Parliament of the Union to its face and declared that he owed it no allegiance...He is afraid for his own skin, and afraid of the fringe men of violence on whose backs he would fain ride, provided he can distance himself from them when serious trouble looms. The old adage holds good; all bullies are cowards, and most cowards are bullies. That is the last trait which completed the portrait of the man who the enemies of the union are hoping against hope will put them in business again.
    • Speech in Belfast (8 May 1981), reported in The Times (9 May 1981), p. 2.
  • If you want to know what the SDP is about, look at its morning star, Roy Jenkins, the greatest Euro-bureaucrat of them all, a man who would never put up with anything British if he could find something foreign to embrace instead. The SDP is the extreme pro-European party, whose one common characteristic and undisputed stance is devotion to the destruction of Britain's parliamentary independence. Anyone who thinks that a bit rough should be aware that one of the SDP's proposals is to take away even the scrutiny, let alone control, of European legislation from the House of Commons and give it to the Assembly at Strasbourg.
    • Speech in Gloucester (30 September 1981), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), p. 91.
  • If, on the other hand, the Conservative party invites the electorate to link national independence in its mind with Bennery and all things 'left' and to discern in membership of the Community a bulwark against the dangers of socialism, the implications are still more disreputable; for this is nothing other than saying that one would rather live under the tutelage of foreigners than incur the risk of one's fellow countrymen being free to make up their own minds. That would be to stamp the Conservative party as a class party with a vengeance, a slur the more damaging because there were in fact, at the time of the original debates, Conservatives inside and outside Parliament who did advocate membership on precisely that ground—blood brothers, no doubt, of those who in an earlier generation viewed the rise of Hitler with equanimity or approval as a safeguard against Communism.
    • Speech to the Conservative Party conference at Blackpool (14 October 1981), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), p. 127.
  • We were dragged into folly by the Americans over Iran. We were dragged into folly by the Americans over Afghanistan. Neither national interest nor moral obligation requires us to be dragged by them into folly over Poland.
    • The Times (8 January 1982), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), pp. 852-3.
  • Yet we slink about like whipped curs ... our self-abasement principally takes the form of subservience to the United States ... we are under no necessity to participate in the American nightmare of a Soviet monster barely held at bay in all quarters of the globe by an inconceivable nuclear armament and by political intervention everywhere from Poland to Cambodia. It is the Americans who need us in order to act out their crazy scenario... We simply do not need to go chasing up and down after the vagaries of the next ignoramus to become President of the United States.
    • The Sunday Express (4 February 1982), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 853.
  • I would sooner receive injustice in the Queen's courts than justice in a foreign court. I hold that man or woman to be a scoundrel who goes abroad to a foreign court to have the judgments of the Queen's courts overturned, the actions of her Government countermanded or the legislation of Parliament struck down.
    • Speech in Ilford (13 March 1982), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 853.
  • Edward Norman (then Dean of Peterhouse) had attempted to mount a Christian argument for nuclear weapons. The discussion moved on to 'Western values'. Mrs Thatcher said (in effect) that Norman had shown that the Bomb was necessary for the defence of our values. Powell: 'No, we do not fight for values. I would fight for this country even if it had a communist government.' Thatcher (it was just before the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands): ‘Nonsense, Enoch. If I send British troops abroad, it will be to defend our values.' 'No, Prime Minister, values exist in a transcendental realm, beyond space and time. They can neither be fought for, nor destroyed.' Mrs Thatcher looked utterly baffled. She had just been presented with the difference between Toryism and American Republicanism.
  • It is conventional to refer to the United Nations in hushed tones of respect and awe, as if it were the repository of justice and equity, speaking almost with the voice of God if not yet acting with the power of God. It is no such thing. Despite the fair-seeming terminology of its charter and its declarations, the reality both of the Assembly and of the Security Council is a concourse of self-seeking nations, obeying their own prejudices and pursuing their own interests. They have not changed their individual natures by being aggregated with others in a system of bogus democracy...Does anybody seriously suppose that the members of the United Nations, or of the Security Council, have been actuated in their decisions on the Argentine invasion of the Falklands by a pure desire to see right done and wrong reversed? That was the last thing on their minds. Everyone of them, from the United States to Peru, calculated its own interests and consulted its own ambitions. What moral authority can attach a summation of self-interest and prejudice? I am not saying that nations ought not to pursue their own interests; they ought and, in any case, they will. What I am saying is that those interests are not sanctified by being tumbled into a mixer and shaken up altogether. An assembly of national spokesmen is not magically transmuted into a glorious company of saints and martyrs. Its only redeeming feature is its impotence...The United Nations is a colossal coating of humbug poured, like icing over a birthday cake, over the naked ambitions and hostilities of the nations.
    • The Times (12 June 1982), p. 12.
  • Nobody disputes, I believe, that our nuclear weaponry is negligible in comparison with that of Russia: if we could destroy 16 Russian cities, she could destroy practically every vestige of life on these islands several times over. For us to use the weapon would therefore be equivalent to more than suicide: it would be genocide – the extinction of our race – in the most literal and precise meaning of that much abused expression. An officer may, in the hour of his country's defeat and disgrace, commit suicide honourably and rationally with his service revolver; but in any collective context the choice of non-existence, of the obliteration of all future hopes, is insanity.
    • Speech in Downpatrick, County Down (31 May 1983), quoted in The Times (1 June 1983), p. 4.
  • I refer to the misunderstanding of Soviet Russia as an aggressive power, militaristically and ideologically bent upon world domination—'seeing', to quote a recent speech of the British Prime Minister, 'the rest of the world as its rightful fiefdom.' How any rational person, viewing objectively the history of the last thirty-five years, could entertain this 'international misunderstanding' challenges, if it does not defeat, comprehension. The notion has no basis in fact... If Russia is bent on world conquest, she has been remarkably slothful and remarkably unsuccessful.
    • Speech at Torquay (7 October 1983), from George R. Urban, Diplomacy and Disillusion at the Court of Margaret Thatcher. An Insider's View (I.B. Tauris, 1996), p. 60.
  • I don't think that would be entirely unfair. There are some things which get on one's nerves and some things that don't. And I'm, to use a rather journalistic word, allergic to the things that are typically American. I think that's fairly natural to someone who has just been described as a Tory and is always ready to describe himself as a High Tory.
    • When asked if he was 'anti-American' (Face the Press, Channel 4 TV, 9 October, 1983), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (London: Bellew, 1991), p. 428.
  • At the invitation of Her Majesty's Government, the United States is about to station on the soil of the United Kingdom nuclear weapons which, we are told, will be used only after consultation and by joint decision with Her Majesty's Government. Anyone who, after the experience of the last few days and of recent years, imagines that the United States will defer to the views of the Government of this country is living in a dangerous fool's paradise. Anyone in office who entertains that illusion is in no position to serve the security of this country.
    • Speech to the House of Commons during the debate on the American invasion of Grenada (26 October 1983, Hansard, 47:308), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), pp. 879-80.
  • I should like to have been killed in the war.
    • Answer to the question "How would you like to be remembered?" by Anne Brown in a radio interview on 13 April 1986; from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 901.
  • The Prime Minister constantly asserts that the nuclear weapon has kept the peace in Europe for the last 40 years...Let us go back to the middle 1950s or to the end of the 1940s, and let us suppose that nuclear power had never been invented...I assert that in those circumstances there would still not have been a Russian invasion of western Europe. What has prevented that from happening was not the nuclear hypothesis...but the fact that the Soviet Union knew the consequences of such a move, consequences which would have followed whether or not there were 300,000 American troops stationed in Europe. The Soviet Union knew that such an action on its part would have led to a third world war—a long war, bitterly fought, a war which in the end the Soviet Union would have been likely to lose on the same basis and in the same way as the corresponding war was lost by Napoleon, by the Emperor Wilhelm and by Adolf Hitler...
    For of course a logically irresistible conclusion followed from the creed that our safety depended upon the nuclear capability of the United States and its willingness to commit that capability in certain events. If that was so—and we assured ourselves for 40 years that it was—the guiding principle of the foreign policy of the United Kingdom had to be that, in no circumstances, must it depart from the basic insights of the United States and that any demand placed in the name of defence upon the United Kingdom by the United States was a demand that could not be resisted. Such was the rigorous logic of the nuclear deterrent...
    It was in obedience to it...that the Prime Minister said, in the context of the use of American bases in Britain to launch an aggressive attack on Libya, that it was "inconceivable" that we could have refused a demand placed upon this country by the United States. The Prime Minister supplied the reason why: she said it was because we depend for our liberty and freedom upon the United States. Once let the nuclear hypothesis be questioned or destroyed, once allow it to break down, and from that moment the American imperative in this country's policies disappears with it.
    A few days ago I was reminded, when reading a new biography of Richard Cobden, that he once addressed a terrible sentence of four words to this House of Commons. He said to hon. Members: "You have been Englishmen." The strength of those words lies in the perfect tense, with the implication that they were so no longer but had within themselves the power to be so again. I believe that we now have the opportunity, with the dissolution of the nightmare of the nuclear theory, for this country once again to have a defence policy that accords with the needs of this country as an island nation, and to have a foreign policy which rests upon a true, undistorted view of the outside world. Above all, we have the opportunity to have a foreign policy that is not dictated from outside to this country, but willed by its people. That day is coming. It may be delayed, but it will come.
  • She has peaked. I have the feeling of 1945. Mrs Thatcher has never known losing office as Gladstone did and the need to face changing circumstances and clear new obstacles before returning to power.
    • Said during his campaign in the election (27 May 1987), quoted in The Times (28 May 1987), p. 5.
  • [Chernobyl has strengthened the] growing impulse to escape from the nightmare of peace being dependent upon the contemplation of horrific and mutual carnage. Events have now so developed that this aspiration can at last be rationally, logically and – I dare to add – patriotically seized by the people of the United Kingdom if they will use their votes to do so.
    • Speech at the Royal Overseas League in London hinting people to vote Labour, who had unilateral nuclear disarmament as their policy (7 June 1987), quoted in The Times (8 June 1987), p. 12 .
  • England is the country of the English... England is the stage on which the drama of English history was played and the setting within which the English became conscious of themselves as a people ... when politicians and preachers attempt to frighten and cajole the English into pretending away the distinction between themselves and people of other nations and other origins, they are engaged in undermining the foundation upon which democratic government by consent and peaceable civilised society in this country are supported ... those who at the end of the twentieth century wish to keep alive that consciousness of being English, which seemed so effortless and uncontroversial to our forefathers, will discover that they are called upon, if they take their purpose seriously, to confront the most arrogant and imposing prejudices of their time.
  • The immediate occasion for alarm is the government's announcement that British contractors for supplying armaments to our armed forces must in future share the work with what are called ‘European firms’, meaning factories situated on the mainland of the European continent. I ask one question, to which I believe there is no doubt about the answer. What would have been the fate of Britain in 1940 if production of the Hurricane and the Spitfire had been dependent upon the output of factories in France? That a question so glaringly obvious does not get asked in public or in government illuminates the danger created for this nation by the rolling stream of time which bears away the generation of 1940, the generation, that is to say, of those who experienced as adults Britain's great peril and Britain’s great deliverance. Talk at Bruges or Luxembourg about not surrendering our national sovereignty is all very well. It means less than nothing when the keys to our national defence are being handed over: an island nation which no longer commands the essential means of defending itself by air and sea is no longer sovereign...The safety of this island nation reposes upon two pillars. The first is the impregnability of its homeland to invasion by air or sea. The second is its ability and its will to create over time the military forces by which the last conclusive battle will be decided. Without our own industrial base of military armament production neither of those pillars will stand. No doubt, with the oceans kept open, we can look to buy or borrow from the other continents; but to depend on the continent of Europe for our arms is suicide.
    • Speech to the Birmingham branch of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Association (18 February 1989), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), pp. 49-50.
  • Q: Who caused the inflation?
    A: The Chancellor of the Exchequer.
    Q: How did he cause it?
    A: By putting a flood of new money into circulation.
    Q: Why did he do that?
    A: To prevent the exchange rate of the pound rising last year.
    Q: Why did he want to stop it rising?
    A: To keep level with the Deutschmark.
    Q: What for?
    A: To make it easier to join the EMS.
    • On the resurgence of inflation in the late 1980s (The Guardian, 24 July, 1989).
  • We are taunted—by the French, by the Italians, by the Spaniards—for refusing to worship at the shrine of a common government superimposed upon them all... where were the European unity merchants in 1940? I will tell you. They were either writhing under a hideous oppression or they were aiding and abetting that oppression. Lucky for Europe that Britain was alone in 1940.
    • Speech to the Merseyside Conservative Ladies' Luncheon Club (5 January 1990), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 928.
  • The world is full of evil men engaged in doing evil things. That does not make us policemen to round them up nor judges to find them guilty and to sentence them. What is so special about the ruler of Iraq that we suddenly discover that we are to be his jailers and his judges? ... we as a nation have no interest in the existence or non-existence of Kuwait or, for that matter, Saudi Arabia as an independent state... I sometimes wonder if, when we shed our power, we omitted to shed our arrogance.
    • The Sunday Correspondent (21 October 1990).
  • To me a Tory is a person who believes that authority is vested in institutions—that's a carefully honed definition. We have made the law, not for extraneous reasons, not because it conforms with a priori specifications; it has been made by a particular institution in a particular way and can be changed by that institution in a particular way. A Tory therefore reposes the ultimate authority in institutions—he is an example of collective man.
    • Interviewed in Winter 1992 (Naim Attallah, Asking Questions (Quartet Books, 1996), pp. 354-5).
  • The reality of the situation is obscured when population is expressed as a percentage proportion taken over the whole of the United Kingdom. The ethnic minority is geographically concentrated, so that areas in which it forms a majority already exists, and these areas are destined inevitably to grow. It is here that the compatibility of such an ethnic minority with the functioning of parliamentary democracy comes into question. Parliamentary democracy depends at all levels upon the valid acceptance of majority decision, by which the nation as a whole is content to be bound because of the continually available prospect that what one majority has decided another majority can subsequently alter. From this point of view, the political homogeneity of the electorate is crucial. What we do not, as yet, know is whether the voting behaviour of our altered population will be able to use the majority vote as a political instrument and not as a means of self-identification, self-assertion and self-enumeration. It may be that the United Kingdom will escape the political consequences of communalism; but communalism and democracy, as the experience of India demonstrates, are incompatible. That is the spectre which the Conservative party's policy of assisted repatriation in the 1960s aimed to banish; but time and events have swept over and passed the already outdated remedies of the 1960s. We are entering unknown territory where the only certainty for the future is the relative increase of the ethnic minority due to the age structure of that population which has been established.
    • Article on the 25th anniversary of his 'Rivers of Blood speech', The Times (20 April 1993), p. 18.
  • It obliges one to think with a particular kind of logic and severity. If it is nonsense, it will not go into Latin...I regard it as cruelty to the young to deprive them of that insight into language...Who would have thought Thatcher would be responsible for introducing the Prussian system, of dictating from central government the content of education in the supposed interest of the state? Translation into Latin was the great stamp and mark of English classical scholarship...My fatal decision was not to be pedantic and leave it in Latin. I had written Et Tiberim multo spumantem sanguine cerno: from Virgil in the Aeneid. And at the last minute I said, 'I can't put that out in Latin, that's pedantic'...In Latin, it would have been lost.
    • Interview with Valerie Grove, The Times (6 August 1993), p. 15.
  • He says to the Sovereign: "I no longer am leader of the majority party in the House of Commons; but I am carrying on as your Prime Minister." Now I don't think anyone can say that—at least without inflicting damage on the constitution... [it is] tantamount to treating the monarch herself with disrespect and denying the very principle on which our parliamentary democracy is founded.
  • A pity she did not understand them!
    • "Odd man out", BBC TV profile by Michael Cockerell transmitted on 11 November 1995, on Margaret Thatcher's adoption of monetarist economic policies.

The 'Rivers of Blood' speechEdit

On 20 April, 1968, Powell gave a speech to the West Midlands Area Conservative Political Centre which concentrated on the effects of immigration.

  • "In this country in fifteen or twenty years' time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man." I can already hear the chorus of execration. How dare I say such a horrible thing? How dare I stir up trouble and inflame feelings by repeating such a conversation?
    • Note: the first sentence was Powell's own quotation from one of his constituents.
  • We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant-descended population. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.
  • "She is becoming afraid to go out. Windows are broken. She finds excreta pushed through her letterbox. When she goes to the shops, she is followed by children, charming, wide-grinning piccaninnies. They cannot speak English, but one word they know. 'Racialist,' they chant."
    • A quotation from a letter Powell said had been sent to him from Northumberland, referring to one of his constituents. (According to a BBC radio programme broadcast in January 2007, the person in question was Druscilla Cotterill. However, this is open to question as some of the personal characteristics of Mrs Cotterill were not identical to the description given by Powell; in contrast to the woman referred to by Powell, Mrs Cotterill was childless and did not have a telephone. Source: Document, Radio 4, 22 January 2007)
  • As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see "the River Tiber foaming with much blood."
    • Alluding to Virgil's report of the Sybil's prophesy, from the Aeneid, book 6, l. 86: "Et Thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno." This is one of the concluding lines that gave the speech its common title.

Quotes about PowellEdit

  • Ah, Enoch, dear Enoch! He once said something to me I never understood. He said, "You know, I've told you all I know about housing, and you can make your speech accordingly. Can I talk to you about something that you know all about and I know nothing? I want to tell you that in the Middle East our great enemies are the Americans." You know, I had no idea what he meant. I do now.
    • Sir Anthony Eden to Andrew Freeth after the Suez Crisis, from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell, pp. 122-3.
  • Mr. Powell is an economic Whig but a political Tory.
  • There was nothing languid or easygoing about Enoch Powell...he was probably the most intellectually formidable of the men who have passed through the Research Department. He took an interest in almost every subject, and on almost every subject he had a strong and pungently expressed views. Only some of these were eccentric...Powell has an inventive mind. He has also a warm heart and I think it a thousand pities that he ever made his first notable speech on immigration, when the Tiber was to run with blood. This led him on to an incurable rift with his own party leaders which has been made wider by the variety of causes of schism which he espouses. Powell could be a most valuable lieutenant instead of a lost assailant, and this is a pity.
    • R. A. Butler, The Art of the Possible (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1971), pp. 140-141.
  • "Even if I were convinced that the result would be that we would have Labour administrations for the rest of my lifetime, I would say: Well, so be it." Torn out of their context and repeated in a long series of news bulletins, Enoch Powell's words seemed far more savage than they did at the end of what must have been one of the most civilized political discussions of recent years. Each from his own standpoint, our two most distinguished Parliamentarians had expressed their passionate belief in our British system of Parliamentary democracy and their determination to rescue it even now from the perils of the EEC. If it had been a Labour Government that had taken us into the Market, Michael Foot would have been faced with Mr Powell's dilemma, and I am pretty certain he would have come to the same conclusion. Read in its context, the statement reveals only what we already know, that Mr Powell has one thing in common with Mr Foot—he cares more about our British Parliamentary democracy than about anything else in the world.
  • I tried to persuade him that he was too logical, a concept which he could neither accept nor understand...I do not recall meeting anyone else with a mind that had such a power of acquiring knowledge. At one stage when Enoch was detailed to become an expert on town and country planning, he acquired the standard textbook and read it from page to page, as an ordinary mortal would read a novel. Within a matter of weeks he had fully grasped both the principles of the problem and the details of the legal situation. Within a matter of a few months he was writing to the author of the textbook, pointing out the errors that he had made.
  • What a theme, and what a speech, and what a speaker, and how Oliver Cromwell himself would have been thrilled to hear the parliamentary cause elevated to its rightful pre-eminence... Writing as an impenitent Leveller who still begs to differ with you (and Oliver Cromwell) in so many matters, I still cannot withhold my wonder and excitement at what I heard there today.
    • Michael Foot in a letter to Powell on Powell's speech against Scottish devolution (19 January 1976), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell, p. 769.
  • The Tory Kingdom would sooner or later have been his to command, for he had all the shining qualities which the others lacked. Heath would never have outmanoeuvred him; Thatcher would never have stepped into the vacant shoes. It was a tragedy for Enoch, and a tragedy for the rest of us too.
    • Michael Foot, Loyalists and Loners (Collins, 1986), p. 192.
  • I think the greatest parliamentary speech I ever heard was by Enoch Powell in 1959, castigating the Macmillan Government over the murder of African prisoners at Hola camp in Kenya; it had all the moral passion and rhetorical force of Demosthenes.
  • However controversial his views, he was one of the great figures of 20th-century British politics, gifted with a brilliant mind. However much we disagreed with many of his views, there was no doubting the strength of his convictions or their sincerity, or his tenacity in pursuing them, regardless of his own political self-interest.
  • There will never be anybody else so compelling as Enoch Powell. He had a rare combination of qualities all founded on an unfaltering belief in God, an unshakeable loyalty to family and friends and an unswerving devotion to our country. He was magnetic. Listening to his speeches was an unforgettable privilege. He was one of those rare people who made a difference.
  • For those who saw and heard Enoch Powell, the memory is indelible – the black moustache, the burning eyes, the hypnotic, metallic voice, the precision of language, the agility in debate. These will be largely lost to future generations. But, in a more important respect, Powell will survive more surely than any other British politician of the 20th century except Winston Churchill. His speeches and writings will be read so long as there exists a political and parliamentary culture in which speaking and writing matter. And if there comes a time when such a culture is all but destroyed, those brave few who wish to restore it will find in the thoughts of Enoch Powell something approaching their Bible.
    • The Daily Telegraph (9 February 1998).
  • In April 1968, Powell made the notorious speech in which he foresaw “the River Tiber foaming with much blood” in consequence of excessive immigration... His solution was mass repatriation of non-white people. The speech led to racial violence in the Midlands but it made Powell a hero,particularly to the lumpenproletariat, astonished and gratified to discover a person of culture and refinement prepared to echo their fouler thoughts. There are signs in this centenary volume that Powell came to regard the speech as something of a mistake. It was, in truth, unforgivable.
    • Vernon Bogdanor, Review of Enoch at 100: a Re-evaluation edited by Lord Howard of Rising. New Statesman, 4 July 2012.

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Last modified on 12 April 2014, at 21:34