Enoch Powell

British politician (1912–1998)

John Enoch Powell (16 June 19128 February 1998) was a British politician, classical scholar, author, linguist, soldier, philologist, and poet. He served as a Conservative Member of Parliament (1950–1974), then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP (1974–1987), and was Minister of Health (1960–1963).

All government rests also 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.


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), quoted in 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), quoted in 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 [sic] 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, quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), 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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), 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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), 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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), 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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), pp. 104-105


  • We describe a Monarch by designating the territory of which he is Monarch. To say that he is Monarch of a certain territory and his other realms and territories is as good as to say that he is king of his kingdom. We have perpetrated a solecism in the title we are proposing to attach to our Sovereign and we have done so out of what might almost be called an abject desire to eliminate the expression "British." The same desire has been felt—though not by any means throughout the British Commonwealth—to eliminate this word before the term "Commonwealth." ... Why is it, then, that we are so anxious, in the description of our own Monarch, in a title for use in this country, to eliminate any reference to the seat, the focus and the origin of this vast aggregation of territories? Why is it that this "teeming womb of royal Kings," as Shakespeare called it, wishes now to be anonymous?
    • Speech in the House of Commons against the Royal Titles Bill (1 March 1953)
  • 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 in the House of Commons on the British evacuation of the Suez Canal (5 November 1953)
  • Perhaps the most insidious danger today is the notion, which many accept unreflectingly and others propagate sedulously, that a stable value of money is incompatible with economic progress or with a high level of employment. Theory and experience alike refute such a notion. I have already reminded you that throughout sixty years of Britain's golden age of expansion in every sphere, the value of money remained virtually constant. So far from it being true that inflation and a high level of employment hang together, the fact is that, for a nation in Britain's situation, dependent on world trade and commercial dealings with other countries for its livelihood, continued inflation is the greatest threat to full employment. It would be a tragedy if the Government or the nation allowed themselves to be diverted by these false fears from the single-minded pursuit of plain and elementary duty: the duty to secure and preserve the integrity and stability of the medium of exchange, on which depend all the economic dealings of man with man.
    • Speech in Halifax (13 December 1957), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 115
  • There is no possibility of arguing that the present composition of the House of Lords can be justified either by logic or by reference to any preconceived constitutional theory. It is the result of a long, even a tortuous, process of historical evolution. Its authority rests upon the acceptance of the result, handed down to our time, of that historical process. It is the authority of acceptance, the authority of what Burke called "prescription". The House of Lords shares that characteristic with many of our most cherished and important institutions. Trial by jury, for example, is not to be justified in logic; it does not rest upon statute; it came to us by a strange historical evolution out of the sworn witnesses of a neighbourhood. Neither logic nor statute nor theory is a basis of that other hereditary institution by which it comes about that a young woman holds sway over countless millions. The authority of this House itself does not, in the last resort, rest upon any logic in the principles upon which we are formed or elected: it rests upon the acceptance by the nation of an institution the history of which cannot be divorced or torn out of the context of the history of the nation itself.
  • I would say that it is a fearful doctrine, which must recoil upon the heads of those who pronounce it, to stand in judgment on a fellow human-being and to say, "Because he was such-and-such, therefore the consequences which would otherwise flow from his death shall not flow." ... Nor can we ourselves pick and choose where and in what parts of the world we shall use this or that kind of standard. We cannot say, "We will have African standards in Africa, Asian standards in Asia and perhaps British standards here at home." We have not that choice to make. We must be consistent with ourselves everywhere. All Government, all influence of man upon man, rests upon opinion. What we can do in Africa, where we still govern and where we no longer govern, depends upon the opinion which is entertained of the way in which this country acts and the way in which Englishmen act. We cannot, we dare not, in Africa of all places, fall below our own highest standards in the acceptance of responsibility.


  • There they stand, isolated, majestic, imperious, brooded over by the gigantic water-tower and chimney combined, rising unmistakable and daunting out of the countryside—the asylums which our forefathers built with such immense solidity to express the notions of their day. Do not for a moment underestimate their powers of resistance to our assault.
    • Speech to the annual conference of the National Association of Mental Health in London (9 March 1961), quoted in The Times (10 March 1961), p. 8
  • That power and that glory have vanished, as surely, if not as tracelessly, as the Imperial fleet from the waters of Spithead—in the eye of history, no doubt as inevitably as “Nineveh and Tyre”, as Rome and Spain. And yet England is not as Nineveh and Tyre, nor as Rome, nor as Spain. Herodotus relates how the Athenians, returning to their city after it had been sacked and burnt by Xerxes and the Persian army, were astonished to find, alive and flourishing in the blackened ruins, the sacred olive tree, the native symbol of their country. So we today at the heart of a vanished empire, amid the fragments of demolished glory, seem to find, like one of her own oak trees, standing and growing, the sap still rising from her ancient roots to meet the spring, England herself.
    • Speech to the Royal Society of St George (22 April 1961), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 144
  • Thus our generation is one which comes home again from years of distant wandering. We discover affinities with earlier generations of English, generations before the “expansion of England”, who felt no country but this to be their own... Backward travels our gaze, beyond the grenadiers and the philosophers of the eighteenth century, beyond the pikemen and the preachers of the seventeenth, back through the brash adventurous days of the first Elizabeth and the hard materialism of the Tudors, and there at last we find them, or seem to find them, in many a village church, beneath the tall tracery of a perpendicular East window and the coffered ceiling of the chantry chapel. From brass and stone, from line and effigy, their eyes look out at us, and we gaze into them, as if we would win some answer from their inscrutable silence. “Tell us what it is that binds us together; show us the clue that leads through a thousand years; whisper to us the secret of this charmed life of England, that we in our time may know how to hold it fast.” What would they say? They would speak to us in our own English tongue, the tongue made for telling truth in, tuned already to songs that haunt the hearer like the sadness of spring. They would tell us of that marvellous land, so sweetly mixed of opposites in climate that all the seasons of the year appear there in their greatest perfection... They would tell us too of a palace near the great city which the Romans built at a ford of the River Thames...to which men resorted out of all England to speak on behalf of their fellows, a thing called “Parliament”, and from that hall went out their fellows with fur-trimmed gowns and strange caps on their heads, to judge the same judgments, and dispense the same justice, to all the people of England.
    • Speech to the Royal Society of St George (22 April 1961), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), pp. 144–145
  • One thing above all they assuredly would not forget; Lancastrian or Yorkist, squire or lord, priest or layman; they would point to the kingship of England, and its emblems everywhere visible. The immemorial arms, gules, three leopards or, though quartered late with France, azure, three fleurs de lis argent; and older still, the crown itself and that sceptred awe, in which Saint Edward the Englishman still seemed to sit in his own chair to claim the allegiance of all the English. Symbol, yet source of power; person of flesh and blood, yet incarnation of an idea; the kingship would have seemed to them, as it seems to us, to express the qualities that are peculiarly England's. The unity of England, effortless and unconstrained, which accepts the unlimited supremacy of Crown in Parliament so naturally as not to be aware of it; the homogeneity of England, so profound and embracing that the counties and the regions make it a hobby to discover their differences and assert their peculiarities; the continuity of England, which has brought this unity and this homogeneity about by the slow alchemy of centuries.
    • Speech to the Royal Society of St George (22 April 1961), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 145
  • For the unbroken life of the English nation over a thousand years and more is a phenomenon unique in history... Institutions which elsewhere are recent and artificial creations, appear in England almost as works of nature, spontaneous and unquestioned. The deepest instinct of the Englishman—how the word “instinct” keeps forcing itself in again and again!—is for continuity; he never acts more freely nor innovates more boldly than when he most is conscious of conserving or even of reacting. From this continuous life of a united people in its island home spring, as from the soil of England, all that is peculiar in the gifts and the achievements of the English nation, its laws, its literature, its freedom, its self-discipline... And this continuous and continuing life of England is symbolised and expressed, as by nothing else, by the English kingship. English it is, for all the leeks and thistles and shamrocks, the Stuarts and the Hanoverians, for all the titles grafted upon it here and elsewhere, “her other realms and territories”, Headships of Commonwealths, and what not. The stock that received all these grafts is English, the sap that rises through it to the extremities rises from roots in English earth, the earth of England's history.
    • Speech to the Royal Society of St George (22 April 1961), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), pp. 145–146
  • If the activities of the health services are thus neither justifiable by economic calculation, nor assessable in comparative statistical terms, these are characteristics which they share with all the highest activities of man.
    • Lloyd Roberts Lecture ("Health and Wealth") to the Royal Society of Medicine (19 October 1961), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 55
  • In my early twenties I read all Nietzsche—not just the main works but the minor works as well, all of them, and every scrap of published correspondence. Nietzsche alone of men out of books has a share in the loyalty and affectionate gratitude which otherwise belongs only to living teachers.
    • 'Thin But Thorough', The Times (27 September 1962), p. 15
  • [T]he memory of big experiences in the world of books is flavoured with the tang of the physical setting in which they happened. I shall never be able to dissociate Ecce Homo from the old flying-boat route to the Antipodes... Or again, the long avenues of thought that have led from Frazer's Golden Bough seem to start physically in front of the dining-room fireplace of the home where as a boy of 15 I sat hour after hour absorbing first the one-volume abridgement and then the three-volume edition. I cannot imagine how different my mental and religious life would have been if the impact of J. G. Frazer had come at another time or not at all.
    • 'Thin But Thorough', The Times (27 September 1962), p. 15
  • Then, about the same time, there was the detonation of Sartor Resartus... It was not only the revelation of Carlyle; it was headlong precipitation into the ocean of German reading and German thinking, where I was destined to voyage long after romantic and uncritical enthusiasm had perished for ever with the rise of Nazism... The happiest and most glorious hours of my life with books—confess it I must—have been with German books... there was Schopenhauer, carried up and down daily for months on the Sydney trams. There was Lessing, Hölderlin even; above all, and above all, there was Goethe. Was, and still is; for a spare 10s. note is as likely to this day to be exchanged for a volume of Goethe as for anything else that sits on a book-seller's shelves.
    • 'Thin But Thorough', The Times (27 September 1962), p. 15
  • I consider there is no surer touchstone of the civilisation of a community than the manner in which it cares for its mentally afflicted members; and among that group those whose mental affliction is of a kind which peculiarly excites fear and aversion are the most acid test of all. It is incumbent on the Minister of Health to see to it that this country has no reason to be ashamed of its performance in that test.
    • Speech in Broadmoor Hospital (27 June 1963), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 48
  • We are a capitalist party. We believe in capitalism. When we look at the astonishing material achievements of the West, at our own high and rising physical standard of living, we see these things as the result, not of compulsion or government action or the superior wisdom of a few, but of that system of competition and free enterprise, rewarding success and penalising failure, which enables every individual to participate by his private decisions in shaping the future of his society. Because we believe this, we honour profit competitively earned; we respect the ownership of property, great or small; we accept the differences of wealth and income without which competition and free enterprise are impossible. If there is one single explanation of the contrast which exists today between the countries we call "underdeveloped" and the advanced societies of the West, that explanation is that these societies have enjoyed for generations the benefits of capitalist free enterprise, whereas the "underdeveloped" countries have not.
    • Speech in Bromsgrove (6 July 1963), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 25
  • We believe that a society where men are free to take economic decisions for themselves—to decide how they will apply their incomes, their savings, their efforts—is the only kind of society where men will remain free in other respects, free in speech, thought and action. It is no accident that wherever the state has taken economic decision away from the citizen, it has deprived him of his other liberties as well. It is not that there was some peculiarity in the character of the Russians or the other Communist nations which predisposed them to servitude. It is that state Socialism is incompatible with individual liberty of thought, speech and action. You may choose one or the other: you cannot have them both.
    • Speech in Bromsgrove (6 July 1963), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), pp. 25-26
  • A great part of the efforts of a civilised community are devoted to purposes which are not economic at all, but humane and human, altruistic if you please. Look at our vast expenditure...upon the National Health Service. I would scorn to justify it—even if the assertion were true—on the basis that somehow it promoted economic and productive efficiency. It is completely, triumphantly, justified on the simple ground that a civilised, compassionate nation can do no other. It, and all the other social services, is the corporate recognition by the community of its common obligation to its individual members.
    • Speech in Bromsgrove (6 July 1963), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 28
  • The collective wisdom and the collective will of the nation resides not in any little Whitehall clique but in the whole mass of the people—in the producers, listening to the voice of the customer at home and abroad; in the savers and investors, using their eyes and their brains to lay out their resources to best advantage; in the consumers themselves, expressing through all the complex nervous system of the market their wishes, their needs, their expectations. In short, the true national economic plan is being made all the time by the very people and institutions which the intellectual arrogance of the Socialist affects to despise. "Under Tory free enterprise" says Labour's policy, "no limit is set to the amount of our national resources and intellectual talent consumed by the popular newspaper, the glossy magazine, the cinema, commercial television and the advertising industry." What a world of contempt for the ordinary man and woman breathes in that haughty sentence!
    • Speech in Bromley (24 October 1963), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 3
  • The Tory principle is the opposite: to trust the people. This has been expressed in practical terms in our actions in the last twelve years. We dismantled and abolished the economic controls, licensing, rationing and powers of direction inherited from the war and post-war Socialism; we restored a market for savings and abandoned the rigging of artificial rates of interest, which had been a fruitful cause of inflation; we imposed on the nationalised industries, apart from those restored to the free economy, the discipline of making comparable profits with what similar investments elsewhere would produce, and we undertook a major surgical operation on the railways to enable them also to earn profits; in our trade policy we sought the widest and most competitive markets for our exports... in taxation policy we have aimed at leaving to the individual earner and the individual firm the free disposal of as large a proportion as possible of their income or profits; finally there is our determined and increasingly successful effort to keep for our money that stability of value which enables people to take their own decisions about spending and saving in terms which have a meaning.
    • Speech in Bromley (24 October 1963), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 4
  • Society is much more than a collection of individuals acting together, even through the complex and subtle mechanisms of the free economy, for material advantage. It has an existence of its own; it thinks and feels; it looks inwards, as a community to its own members; it looks outwards as a nation, into a world populated by other societies, like or unlike itself. The Tory Party, with its deep sense of history, has always concerned itself especially with these two aspects of society, and I believe that the British people would instinctively and rightly reject a philosophy which offered them just an economic machine, however efficient and successful.
    • Speech in Bromley (24 October 1963), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), pp. 4–5
  • We exist to say to the nation that its future, economically and socially, will best be what the people themselves make it; that the possibilities which lie open to their ingenuity, effort and initiative are wider far than any government could conceive, still less bring to pass; and that the duty of government is to help, but never constrain, the free development of the nation's resources and talents. We offer neither servitude, nor the safety, ease and irresponsibility of servitude. We offer freedom, and the risks, the dangers, the uncertainties, the untidinesses, but also the responsibilities and the opportunities which are inseparable from it.
    • Speech in Wolverhampton (13 December 1963), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 32
  • "All men", said Aristotle, "by nature desire to know." The pursuit of truth, the effort to comprehend, arrange, interpret some aspect or other of the universe we perceive, is an activity of humanity which justifies, rewards and motivates itself. The study of something for its own sake, for the sake of knowing, understanding, grasping it and for nothing else, is an essential characteristic of education, lower or higher, though more obviously of higher education. The content of education must therefore be that which men would wish to know for its own sake.
    • Speech to the Working Men's College, St. Pancras (14 December 1963), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 39
  • The people who founded the Working Men's College understood all this very well. The working men for whom this institution was created had a thirst for education in a way we can scarcely imagine today. It was not to pass examinations and qualify for better wages nor to raise themselves into a higher social class—though these are respectable ambitions and no doubt many of those early students felt them—but to get at knowledge for its own sake because without it their existence would be less worth to them, that the working classes demanded education and got it. This was part of the good life, and they were not to be denied it. To read and write, to borrow books and debate, to study the sciences and learn a foreign tongue—all these were so many steps not of economic advancement but of human dignity.
    • Speech to the Working Men's College, St. Pancras (14 December 1963), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 41
  • The duty of every management is to conduct its business, including the price policy of the business, in the way which in the opinion of the management is likely to maximise the return on the capital invested in the business. A management which does not do this betrays more than the shareholders in the business; it betrays the employees and the nation as a whole. The national interest lies in all the nation's resources being put to the most advantageous use possible. Anywhere outside a Communist state—and perhaps the time is coming when even that qualification will be superfluous—this is done by seeking to secure the largest possible return on capital. To maximise profits is for management not an optional exercise or a work of supererogation; it is management's basic duty. If private enterprise in a capitalist society is not trying to do that, there is no point in private enterprise—nor, for that matter, in a capitalist society.
    • Speech to the National Liberal Forum (28 January 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), pp. 105-106
  • Wages, profits, prices are determined, always have been determined, and always will be determined until we go Communist, by the market—by supply and demand working through the market. While we tie ourselves into knots trying to invent non-market criteria for our commissions to use, the market is there, noiselessly, efficiently, irresistibly doing the job for us all the time. Irresistibly—yes, and there's the rub. For there is one thing outside the market in a modern economy, and that is money itself. Governments can and do satisfy the demand for money, raise and lower the supply of money. In short, governments have the power to control money, which is so largely their own creation. If governments allow monetary demand to increase faster than productivity, the market will not stop the process, because it cannot stop it. The market will simply go on determining wages, profits and prices in ever higher monetary terms—until something busts.
    • Speech to the National Liberal Forum (28 January 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 110
  • 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), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 75
  • The Labour Party, we all know, have fallen head over heels in love with science. The very mention of automation or computers brings a gleam into their eyes and a glow to their cheeks. They promise to favour automative re-equipment and computerisation. The irony is that these same people are dedicated to destroying the largest and most wonderful computer the world has ever known. This is the computer into which are fed the whole time millions of facts not only from all over this country but from all round the globe. The answers tumble out of it in an unending stream: it tells us all the time what it is most advantageous to import or export; it tells us what the relative benefits are of the imported article and the "home-produced substitute"; it tell us what can be produced "economically and competitively" and in what quantity and where. This wonderful silent mechanism—dare I say, this "automative" mechanism?—of the market the Labour Party want to smash, in order to install in its place—what? The pathetic figure of a President of the Board of Trade going through the old Trade Returns with his officials and trying to reproduce—no, to improve upon—the result of millions of acts of judgment made continuously throughout the economy by those who, in total, have available far more data than the Board of Trade ever dreamt of.
    • Speech to the Dulwich Conservative Association (29 February 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), pp. 75-76
  • The creative forces in a nation lie in the people themselves—in their determination, their effort, their hopefulness, their thrift, their readiness to venture and to change. Only in proportion as they show and apply those qualities can the economy advance. The truly creative policies are the policies which enable the nation to put forth the effort and to take the decisions upon which, alone, the rate of its advance depends.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (15 April 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 23
  • Anyone who believes that the rise in the standard of living of the working classes in this country in the last twenty years or the last hundred and twenty years is due to the existence and actions of the trade unions, will believe anything. It is the kind of absurdity which people only entertain when they are desperately determined to do so, for fear of the consequences of disbelief. The rise in that standard is due to the greater productivity of labour, proceeding in turn from a whole host of causes—greater scientific and technical knowledge, more capital, better organisation, and so on. We all know this, and we all know that it has nothing whatever to do with restraint of trade or restriction of competition.
    • Speech in the London School of Economics (16 June 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 121
  • I am not of course suggesting that combination cannot force up the price of labour in a particular employment above the market level. What I am saying is that this advantage is demonstrably often more or less short-lived: indeed, in the inflationary conditions which we have experienced in the last twenty years, any such gain has been neutralised and obliterated exceptionally quickly. But wherever and as long as there is an advantage, it is always at the expense not only of the community at large but of other workers: of the community at large, because its pattern of production and consumption is thereby less satisfactory than it otherwise would be—the standard effect of all monopoly and restriction; of other workers, because the higher cost of labour in that employment reduces demand for it and results in workers either being unemployed or being employed less remuneratively than they otherwise would be.
    • Speech in the London School of Economics (16 June 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 122
  • It will be seen that all these difficulties attach to those aspects of trade unionism which involve restriction and coercion... I would hope and believe that it will not be impossible to disentangle the coercive and restrictive activities of trade unionism from all the rest of its long tradition, so closely entwined with our economic and social history. I can only say this: once the basic question is posed...as to the justification of private force in the pursuit of ends whether private or public, real or imaginary, that question has to be answered openly and fearlessly... If the conclusion is that no such justification can be shown to exist, either generally or in our own society and times, then sooner or late, however long and wearisome the process, however many inquiries and Royal Commissions we must live through, the law of this land will have to be brought into accord with what can be defended by its people as right and just.
    • Speech in the London School of Economics (16 June 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 123
  • Contrary to popular belief there is no reason whatever to suppose that the remuneration of labour in general has been raised by the combination of labour through the trade unions to a higher level than it would have stood at otherwise. The rising standard of living of the employed population is due to many causes; but restrictive practices are not among them. No doubt in individual occupations combination has from time to time succeeded in raising real wages above what they would have been in its absence; but any such gain, which is invariably at the expense of workers in other employments and of the general public, is always temporary and usually brief. After more or less inconvenience and, in recent times, by dint of more or less inflation, the pattern of real wages reverts to one which corresponds with the balance of supply and demand for labour in the various employments in different parts of the country.
    • Speech to City of London Young Conservatives (29 July 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 123
  • The economic losses are those which are common to all monopolistic and restrictive practices. Whenever relatively more is paid for one set of services, and therefore less for all the rest, than would be paid in the absence of restrictive practices, the result is that the pattern of production is not as nearly as "right" as it would otherwise be: we waste part of our resources—human as well as material—by not putting them to the uses which yield the best return. In the modern state this is corrected not, as in the past, by unemployment and the forcing down of money wages, but by inflation and the devaluation of money: if one group succeeds in raising the price of its services by restrictive methods, then everyone else will also get around to being paid more for theirs, until a pattern which corresponds with the balance of supply and demand is again restored. The resultant inflation not only has the familiar inconvenient consequences for a country with a fixed parity of exchange. It also creates injustice for those persons and classes whose expectations are defined in fixed money terms.
    • Speech to City of London Young Conservatives (29 July 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 126
  • Now, there is one set of market forces, supremely important to Britain, which lie outside the reach of even a Socialist government. These are world market forces. Whatever government we have in this country, the rest of the world will only buy from us what it cannot get elsewhere cheaper and better. If our prices are high or our goods not the right ones, it will be no use saying: “Oh, but we have decided not to be ruled by market forces beyond our control.” The rest of the world would laugh in our faces. And what sheer nonsense and utter hypocrisy it is for a country dependent on selling a fifth of its product abroad to pretend not to “be ruled by market forces”!
    • Speech in Wolverhampton (25 September 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 11
  • When a man offers to sell you something at less than its market price, it is a pretty good sign that you are about to be swindled.
    • Speech in Aldridge (2 October 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 64
  • In conditions of free enterprise and competition, one does not have to contrive modernisation or introduce it by government decree. It happens, and keeps on happening, of its own accord. A firm or an industry or an attitude which is no longer modern simply does not survive; it goes under and is replaced by others which are modern. Our motor industry, our chemical industry, yes, our steel industry, do not have to be told to modernise themselves. They keep on doing it because they have to, in order to export and meet the challenge of a fiercely competitive and rapidly changing world. If Britain wants to be modern, there is no substitute for the system of competitive free enterprise by which the Tory Party stands.
    • Speech in Gillingham (12 October 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 13
  • 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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 364
  • Immigration was, and is, an issue. In my constituency it has for years been question number one, into which discussion of every other political topic—housing, health, benefits, employment—promptly turned.
    • 'Tories in the Wilderness', The Sunday Telegraph (18 October 1964), quoted in Paul Corthorn, Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain (2019), p. 79
  • Before more months or years are spent by Ministers, by economic staffs, by industrialists and by trade unionists, in a pursuit which is as foredoomed to futility as filling a sieve or making a rope of sand, it is time to call a halt, and to declare in round and unmistakeable terms that an incomes policy, in any relevant or useful sense, does not and cannot exist—except perhaps in a communist dictatorship.
    • Speech in Birmingham (28 November 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 100
  • The idea of the State-controlled economy is not modern at all. It is very old; and not only very old, but refuted and superseded long ago. It is quite true that the great principles of capitalism and free enterprise were expounded and explored around the beginning of the nineteenth century. Newton discovered gravitation in the seventeenth century. Copernicus proved in the sixteenth century that the earth revolves round the sun. But these truths are not thereby "out-of-date". They are not refuted by the lapse of time. The errors which they replaced are errors still. It is the Socialists and the economic planners who are the Ptolemaics and the flat-earthers of the modern world. They have not moved on beyond capitalism: they have moved back before it. In order to find the parallels to their faith in state regulation and control of the economy you have to go back behind Adam Smith and his contemporaries to the elaborate management of trade in the guilds and boroughs of the Middle Ages or to the French bureaucrats of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
    • Speech in Wolvehampton (18 December 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 15
  • The present-day Socialist would be perfectly at home in the France of Louis XIV, where officials decided what industries should be created and located in what parts of France and her colonies, minutely regulated the imports and exports, subsidised and controlled prices, and managed the economy even down to prescribing the patterns which were to be woven in the state-owned tapestry works of Aubusson. There is the spiritual home of the Socialist planner. If Louis XIV could read Signposts for the Sixties, with its promise of the powers of government used to enforce a national plan of investment and production...it would win his full approval and support. There are no doubt some points of dissimilarity between Mr. Harold Wilson and Louis XIV; but in their economic policies they are twin souls. And the psychology and attitude of mind behind their common policy is not at all unlike. "The state?" said Louis, "Why, that is myself!" Was it not a Socialist minister who within living memory proclaimed, "We are the masters now"?
    • Speech in Wolverhampton (18 December 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 15
  • The explosion in productive energy which capitalism unleashed in the nineteenth century was accompanied by social evils and hardships which have since been outgrown and abolished. It has been possible to do so by means of that very increase in production itself, just as future social improvement will depend on the rate of our future economic advance. What tragic folly it would be if modern Britain were to cast away the subtlest and most efficient system mankind has yet devised for setting effort and resources to their best economic use, and were to go right back to the clumsy methods and crude fallacies which our forefathers thought they had left behind for ever.
    • Speech in Wolverhampton (18 December 1964), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), pp. 15-16
  • Public and private expenditure are not the same in their financial and economic effects. There is a very important difference between your expenditure and mine and the Government's expenditure. If you and I intend to spend but find we have not enough money, we have no choice but to think better of it. Not so the Government; if they are short, they can either make you and me pay more in taxation, or else they can actually create additional money... For politicians to increase public expenditure is easy and sweet; to refrain from increasing it, let alone to reduce it, is hard and uncomfortable. Thus it is that government intentions to spend get carried through, irrespective of whether this results in money being created faster than goods and services—irrespective, in other words, of the inflation which ensues. That is why Lord Cromer was perfectly right in saying that a high level of public expenditure causes inflation.
    • Speech in Westbury-on-Trim (26 February 1965), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 116
  • So let us make this our resolve: we will not be tempted, or frightened, or cajoled into turning aside from our plain duty and common-sense necessity: so to control and limit and guide our public expenditure that it no longer entails upon this country the recurrent menace of inflationary crises or the more insidious but in the long run dangerous atrophy of an increasingly state-dominated economy.
    • Speech in Westbury-on-Trim (26 February 1965), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 118
  • The effect of any combination to fix the price of labour in a particular employment by restraining those who would be prepared to pay more or accept less—that is what collective bargaining means if it means anything at all—is the same as the effect of any other restrictive practice: it makes everybody worse off in the end.
    • Speech in Beaconsfield (19 March 1965), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 131
  • [T]o the extent that collective bargaining does succeed in distorting costs, it must rank among the obstacles to improvement in the standard of living of the British worker; and the more effective it is, the greater the obstacle. The British industrial worker today works longer hours for less real wages than his counterpart in West Germany, and that will soon be true, if it is not already, of his counterparts in a number of other European countries. This is not because the British trade unions are not strong enough, any more than it is because the monopolies and restrictive practices among buyers and sellers of goods and services are not tight enough. It is because industrial effort is being more efficiently used elsewhere than here. This is what gives the immediacy and urgency to this whole question of the trade unions. The people of this country cannot afford to allow themselves the luxury of practices and habits, however encrusted with sentiment and benevolent superstition, which place obstacles in the way of more efficient use of our resources.
    • Speech in Beaconsfield (19 March 1965), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), pp. 131-132
  • I sometimes hear the suggestion made, even in the Conservative Party, that one would wish to see the official, responsible trade union leaders encouraged and strengthened, given the power to make binding contracts on behalf of their members, and placed under liability to penalties if their members break them. This would be the diametrically wrong direction in which to move. It would entrench and give legal sanctions to collective price-fixing itself, which is the essential economic evil. But there are more objections than on economic grounds alone; there are also grave political objections. If unions are to contract to deliver a stipulated quantity, and presumably quality, of labour at a stipulated price, then they would need to be endowed with disciplinary powers over their members, in order to secure the performance of the contract: the members would have to be subject, besides the general law, to a kind of private law or code. A trade union would cease to be in any sense a voluntary association; for only union members, and that, members of a specific trade union, would in practice be employable. This is the union shop and the closed shop—which the Tory Party has always repudiated—with a vengeance. The idea would carry us far down the road to the fascist, corporate state, where the economic life and decisions of the individual are regulated by corporations of employers and unions.
    • Speech in Beaconsfield (19 March 1965), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), pp. 132-133
  • The right of free association, which is pleaded on behalf of collective price-fixing by trade unions, means nothing unless there is an equal right of non-association. It is contrary to the Rule of Law that any private association of citizens should be permitted to exercise, let alone to be endowed with the positive power to exercise, coercion over those who do not choose to belong to it. This power of coercion derives primarily from the legal privileges which trade unions, and trade unions uniquely, have enjoyed for the last sixty years, privileges which enable them to behave in ways that for any other associations would be unlawful and would result in damages for those who suffered injury at their hands... [N]o one has succeeded in showing that today these coercive powers are other than superfluous at best and at worst harmful, and that...the state of the law on which those privileges rest is ripe for urgent reform. The law of picketing, intimidation, contracting-out, immunity from process is not at this day defensible, either in itself or in its economic consequences. When combination to fix the price of labour enjoys no privileges which are denied to combinations for the purpose of fixing other prices, then the right of free association will be a reality and not a phrase, and one of the most serious obstacles will have been removed which impede at present the use of this nation's abilities and resources for the benefit of all her people.
    • Speech in Beaconsfield (19 March 1965), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid: The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), pp. 133-134
  • If the Western nations were to confer on the rest of mankind not, as at present, just a tiny fraction of their goods and capital, but were, literally, in the words of the epistle, to ‘bestow all their goods to feed the poor’ their wealth would only disappear, like a snowflake on boiling water, into the maw of these vast and astronomically increasing populations, and the outcome would be a common level of poverty and incompetence. Whence, then, if from anywhere, are the means of improvement to come? There is only one possible answer: essentially from within. The investment and the initiative which made possible the development of the Western economies was not subscribed or donated from outside; it came from within. The rise of Japan, in far less than a century from Admiral Perry's arrival, to challenge the Western countries in technology and production, was not because she was spoon-fed with grants and uneconomic loans from a benevolent Europe or America: it was due to the spirit and character of her people and their aptitude and appetite to learn. The great, the only truly beneficent gift we have to offer is the example of that which has made the West productive – capitalism and enterprise. But it is a gift which implies the power and will to receive it: and that, although we can teach and demonstrate by precept and by example, it is not in our power simply to confer. In short, the secret of aid to the developing countries is not capital itself: it is capitalism.
    • Speech to the Canada Club in Manchester (10 December 1965), quoted in Freedom and Reality (1969), pp. 268–269
  • Under the Labour Government in the last eighteen months Britain has behaved, perfectly clearly and perfectly recognizably, as an American satellite.
    • Speech in Falkirk (26 March 1966) during the general election campaign, quoted in Andrew Roth, Enoch Powell: Tory Tribune (1970), p. 337
  • The happiest and most glorious hours of my life with books have been with German books.
    • The Observer (24 April 1966)
  • For over ten years, from about 1954 to 1966, Commonwealth immigration was the principal, and at times the only, political issue in my constituency in Wolverhampton. Between those dates entire areas were transformed by the substitution of a wholly or predominantly coloured population for the previous native inhabitants, as completely as other areas were transformed by the bulldozer. My uppermost feeling on looking back upon those years is of astonishment that this event, which altered the appearance and life of a town and had shattering effects on the lives of many families and persons, could take place with virtually no physical manifestations of antipathy. This speaks volumes for the steadiness and tolerance of the natives. Acts of an enemy, bombs from the sky, they could understand; but now, for reasons quite inexplicable, they might be driven from their homes and their property deprived of value by an invasion which the Government apparently approved and their fellow-citizens – elsewhere – viewed with complacency. Those were the years when a ‘For Sale’ notice going up in a street struck terror into all its inhabitants. I know; for I live within the proverbial stone’s throw of streets which ‘went black’.
    • 'Facing Up to Britain's Race Problem', The Daily Telegraph (16 February 1967), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), pp. 294–295
  • In my own constituency (where I estimate that about 10 per cent of the population are immigrants from Asia or the Caribbean) I have the impression that, as no doubt elsewhere, the first phase, the sudden impact of Commonwealth immigration, is over. I am going to prophesy, however, that there will be subsequent phases, when the problem will resume its place in public concern and in a more intractable form, when it can no longer be dealt with simply by turning the inlet tap down or off. Long before the coloured population reaches 5 per cent of the total, a proportion will have filtered into the general population, mingled with it in occupation, residence, habits and intermarriage. On the other hand, the rest, numerically perhaps much the greater part, will be in larger or smaller colonies, in certain areas and cities, more separated than now in habits, occupation and way of life. The irregular pattern of population and living which grew up higgledy-piggledy in the early years of immigration will have been tidied up. It is for these colonies, and the problems thereby entailed on our descendants, that they will curse the improvident years, now gone, when we could have avoided it all.
    • 'Facing Up to Britain's Race Problem', The Daily Telegraph (16 February 1967), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), p. 295
  • 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."
    • Speech in the House of Commons (1 March 1967)
  • 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); quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 430
  • I find in my constituency in the last few weeks an ominous deterioration, which is taking the form not of discrimination by white against coloured but of insolence of coloured towards white and corresponding fearfulness on the part of white. It is this which will be exacerbated by the projected legislation on discrimination and which we shall have to take into account in making up our minds on our attitude.
    • Letter to Edward Heath (7 August 1967), quoted in Paul Corthorn, Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain (2019), p. 81
  • Integration of races of totally disparate origins and culture is one of the great myths of our time. It has never worked throughout history. The United States lost its only real opportunity of solving its racial problem when it failed after the Civil War to partition the old Confederacy into a "South Africa" and a "Liberia".
    • Remark to an American visitor shortly after Powell's return to London from his first visit to the United States in October 1967, as quoted in Andrew Roth, Enoch Powell: Tory Tribune (1970), p. 341
  • Often when I am kneeling down in church, I think to myself how much we should thank God, the Holy Ghost for the gift of capitalism.
    • Speech to a luncheon of lobby correspondents (c. early 1968), quoted in T. E. Utley, Enoch Powell: The Man and his Thinking (1968), p. 114
  • There is a sense of hopelessness and helplessness which comes over persons who are trapped or imprisoned, when all their efforts to attract attention and assistance bring no response. This is the kind of feeling which you in Walsall and we in Wolverhampton are experiencing in the face of the continued flow of immigration into our towns. We are of course in a minority – make no mistake about that. Out of over 600 parliamentary constituencies perhaps less than 60 are affected in any way like ourselves. The rest know little or nothing and, we might sometimes be tempted to feel, care little or nothing. Only this week a colleague of mine in the House of Commons was dumbfounded when I told him of a constituent whose little daughter was now the only white child in her class at school. He looked at me as if I were a Member of Parliament for central Africa, who had suddenly dropped from the sky into Westminster. So far as most people in the British Isles are concerned, you and I might as well be living in central Africa for all they know about our circumstances.
    • Speech in Walsall (9 February 1968), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), p. 290
  • Some problems are unavoidable. Some evils can be coped with to a certain extent, but not prevented. But that a nation should have saddled itself, without necessity and without countervailing benefit, with a wholly avoidable problem of immense dimensions is enough to make one weep. That the same nation should stubbornly persist in allowing the problem, great as it already is, to be magnified further, is enough to drive one to despair.
    • Speech in Walsall (9 February 1968), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), p. 290
  • It is no kindness on the part of politicians to minimize the size which those problems will assume, even if from now onwards every possible legislative and administrative action is taken to limit it. To draw attention to those problems and face them in the light of day is wiser than to apply the method of the ostrich which rarely yields a satisfactory result – even to ostriches. We have just been seeing in Wolverhampton the cloud no bigger than a man's hand in the shape of communalism. Communalism has been the curse of India and we need to be able to recognize it when it rears its head here. Large numbers of Sikhs, who had been serving the Wolverhampton Corporation voluntarily and contentedly, have found themselves against their will made the material for communal agitation. They have the same right as anyone else to decide which if any of the rules of their sect they will keep, and they had found no difficulty in entering the Corporation's employment and complying with the same rules as their fellow employees. For those who took a different and a stricter view there were plenty of other opportunities of employment. It will be the opposite to the equal treatment of all persons within the realm if employers are placed in the position of adjudicating upon the requirements of their employees' religion. The issue in this instance, is not racial or religious discrimination: it is communalism.
    • Speech in Walsall (9 February 1968), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), p. 292
  • What I would take 'racialist' to mean is a person who believes in the inherent inferiority of one race of mankind to another, and who acts and speaks in that belief. So the answer to the question of whether I am a racialist is 'no'—unless, perhaps, it is to be a racialist in reverse. I regard many of the peoples in India as being superior in many respects—intellectually, for example, and in other respects—to Europeans. Perhaps that is over-correcting.
    • Interview with the Birmingham Post (4 May 1968), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), pp. 466-467
  • 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 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 (1968), p. xi
  • Too often today people are ready to tell us: "This is not possible, that is not possible." I say: whatever the true interest of our country calls for is always possible. We have nothing to fear but our own doubts.
    • Speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool (10 October 1968), quoted in The Times (11 October 1968), p. 4 [1]
  • 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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 489
  • ...on such a matter it is the duty of a politician to make and to declare his judgement. I do so, I hope, not unduly moved – though why should I not be moved? – by the hundreds – no, thousands – of my countrymen who speak to me or write to me of their fear and foreboding: the old who rejoice that they will not live to see what is to come; the young who are determined that their children shall not grow up under the shadow of it. My judgement then is this: the people of England will not endure it. If so, it is idle to argue whether they ought to or ought not to. I do not believe it is in human nature that a country, and a country such as ours, should passively watch the transformation of whole areas which lie at the heart of it into alien territory.
    • Speech to the annual conference of the Rotary Club in Eastbourne (16 November 1968), quoted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (1991), p. 390
  • The West Indian or Asian does not, by being born in England, become an Englishman. In law he becomes a United Kingdom citizen by birth; in fact he is a West Indian or Asian still. Unless he be one of a small minority—for number, I repeat again and again, is of the essence—he will by the very nature of things have lost one country without gaining another, lost one nationality without acquiring a new one. Time is running against us and them. With the lapse of a generation or so we shall at last have succeeded – to the benefit of nobody – in reproducing ‘in England's green and pleasant land’ the haunting tragedy of the United States.
    • Speech to the annual conference of the Rotary Club in Eastbourne (16 November 1968), quoted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (1991), p. 393
  • It would be different if there were some great widespread public indignation and demand: "Away with the prescriptive upper house of Parliament". There is not. There was recently carried out by Mr. McKenzie and a colleague of his a survey of working-class political attitudes called Angels in Marble. They found that "only one-third of the entire working class sample, and only a slightly higher proportion of Labour voters, favoured abolishing the Lords or altering it in any way…About a third of the whole sample" of working-class voters in the country "see the Lords as an intrinsic part of the national tradition or of the government of the country." 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, of that which is prescriptive.
  • [I]t 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), quoted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (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), quoted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (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."
    • Answer to David Frost, who asked him if he was a racialist (3 January 1969), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 504
  • There is a limit to the number of (and I'm going to use this word in an entirely neutral sense) aliens who can be brought into a nation, particularly as close-knit and concentrated a nation as Britain is, without breaking the bounds of that society and setting up intolerable frictions and stresses as damaging to one side as to the other. Now, this is a question of number. But the relationship between number and difference is clearly important, because the more different they are – and colour is a signal, an outward signal of differences (not significant in itself, but it signalizes other differences that one can't deny) – the greater the difference, the smaller the numbers that can at any one time be accepted without breaking, or being thought to break (which comes to the same thing if we're talking about psychology), the framework of a nation and a society. So it's numbers.
  • 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: [W]hat 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), quoted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (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), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), pp. 22-23
  • I could not vote for any legislation which would legalise a constitution for Southern Rhodesia under which there would not be evident and relatively early advance to majority rule.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (16 October 1969)

The 'Rivers of Blood' speech (1968)


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

  • The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils.
  • "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? The answer is that I do not have the right not to do so.
    • Note: the first sentence was Powell's own quotation from one of his constituents.
  • Here is a decent, ordinary fellow Englishman, who in broad daylight in my own town says to me, his Member of Parliament, that his country will not be worth living in for his children. I simply do not have the right to shrug my shoulders and think about something else. What he is saying, thousands and hundreds of thousands are saying and thinking – not throughout Great Britain, perhaps, but in the areas that are already undergoing the total transformation to which there is no parallel in a thousand years of English history.
  • Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. 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.
  • But while, to the immigrant, entry to this country was admission to privileges and opportunities eagerly sought, the impact upon the existing population was very different. For reasons which they could not comprehend, and in pursuance of a decision by default, on which they were never consulted, they found themselves made strangers in their own country.
  • "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. A contemporary investigation by journalists from The Express and Star, a local newspaper, could find no trace of the woman, and the paper had itself received similar letters which it had traced back to the National Front. Source: "Enoch Powell was wrong", Ian Austin, The Telegraph, 22 June 2012.).
  • 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, line 87: "Et Thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno." This is one of the concluding lines that gave the speech its common title.
  • That tragic and intractable phenomenon which we watch with horror on the other side of the Atlantic but which there is interwoven with the history and existence of the States itself, is coming upon us here by our own volition and our own neglect. Indeed, it has all but come. In numerical terms, it will be of American proportions long before the end of the century. Only resolute and urgent action will avert it even now. Whether there will be the public will to demand and obtain that action, I do not know. All I know is that to see, and not to speak, would be the great betrayal.


  • We should do well in the Conservative Party to take extremely seriously the phenomenon of university disorder... The essential ingredient of the success of anarchy in its new form is the enslavement of the majority by a tiny minority... The object of this minority is the destruction of authority, of the institutions of society and of society itself—not, as in the classical revolutionary movements, for the purpose of substituting a different order and better institutions, but in order to destroy for destruction's sake. The great discovery has been how to turn authority, institutions and society against themselves, and to use the majority which accepts and approves them as a battering ram to smash them down. The method is essentially simple; but in its simplicity lies its subtlety and its efficacy. The secret weapon is the assumption that violence and disorder imply grievance. From this it follows that the grievance must be removed in order to stop the violence and disorder. It also follows that the real blame lies not with the violent and disorderly but with those responsible for the assumed grievance, namely with authority and society itself. The burden of accusation and condemnation is thus automatically diverted from the guilty on to the innocent, from the attacker on to the attacked, from the plotter on to his intended victims. The majority of members of the institution under attack, the organs of vocal opinion, and at last the general public itself, are so mesmerised by this technique that they become the instruments of its success. They take up and re-echo the taunts and complaints of the attackers, until the terrified holders of authority, finding themselves apparently surrounded by accusers on all sides, abandon their posts and buy off the aggressors.
    • Speech to the Northern Universities Dinner, Federation of Conservative Students, in York (7 March 1970), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), pp. 27-28
  • [O]ur prime responsibility in our several situations is to denounce folly and absurdity for what they are. Unless and until this is done, every successive outbreak of disorder, with its accompanying conditioned reflex of vocal approval for the demands of the disorderly, will mark another stage in the lapse of the universities into anarchy. The central folly and absurdity which cries aloud to be denounced is student participation. There is no, repeat no, rational justification for students to participate in the academic or administrative or disciplinary management of the universities. The whole idea is utterly nonsensical.
    • Speech to the Northern Universities Dinner, Federation of Conservative Students, in York (7 March 1970), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), p. 31
  • It is an old delusion to suppose that those bent on violence and anarchy can be satisfied with instalments of what is miscalled reform. If reform were the object, they could be: but the object is not reform, the object is destruction. When a concession has been extorted here, it will be followed by another demand there; when one humiliation has been inflicted on the authorities, the means will instantly be sought of inflicting another. There is no quantity of danegeld which buys off anarchy; there is no end to the instalments which will be swallowed and leave the aggressor unsatisfied. Sooner or later, therefore, and sooner better than later, there has to be a halt; and the Conservative party has a peculiar responsibility in this...as the Party which claims a special identification with law and order. So far our record has been unimpressive. We have been content to stand on the touchline and watch the university authorities, in their pitiful inexperience and gaucherie, go down to one defeat after another without so much as a word from us. Worse, we have often played the anarchists' game ourselves by joining in approval of the anarchists' demands. The time is overdue to stand and be heard out loud. We shall not want for echo from the people, who wonder that those who should speak for them have been silent so long.
    • Speech to the Northern Universities Dinner, Federation of Conservative Students, in York (7 March 1970), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), pp. 31-32
  • 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)
  • 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.
    • Reaction 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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), 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.
    • Reaction to a youth who had given the Hitler salute during his speech in Wolverhampton (6 June 1970), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), 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), quoted in Still to Decide (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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 563
  • The question...of membership [of the EEC] resolves itself...into the most basic of all possible questions which can be addressed to the people of any nation: can they, and will they, so merge themselves with others that, in face of the external world, there is no longer ‘we’ and ‘they’, but only ‘we’; that the interests of the whole are instinctively seen as over-riding those of any part; that a single political will and authority, which must necessarily be that of the majority, is unconditionally accepted as binding upon us all? That is the question. That is what the real debate is about... For myself, I say that to me it is inconceivable that the people of this nation could or would so identify themselves politically with the peoples of the continent of Western Europe to form with them one entity and in effect one nation.
    • Speech in Banbridge, County Down (16 January 1971), quoted in The Common Market: The Case Against (1971), p. 48
  • [W]e are talking about economic and political union. We are posing a question about political entity, about nationhood—the thing for which men, if necessary, fight and, if necessary, die, and to preserve which men think no sacrifice too great. In respect of our nationhood, then, I say that we are not a part of the continent of Europe. The whole development and nature of our national identity and consciousness has been not merely separate from that of the countries of the Continent of Europe but actually antithetical; and, with the centuries, so far from growing together, our institutions and outlook have rather grown apart from those of our neighbours on the continent. In our history, both recent and earlier, the principal events which have placed their stamp upon our consciousness of who we are, were the very moments in which we have been alone, confronting a Europe which was lost or hostile. That is the picture, that is the folk memory, by which our nation has been formed.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (21 January 1971)
  • 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), quoted in The Common Market: The Case Against (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), quoted in The Common Market: The Case Against (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), quoted in Still to Decide (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), quoted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (1991), pp. 487-488
  • [W]hen 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), quoted in The Common Market: The Case Against (1971), pp. 76-77
  • This is the positive aspect of British opposition to entry into the Community – the breadth and depth of the people's conviction that in no foreseeable future could they in this sense form one electorate with the inhabitants of the continent... It is that in their thousand-year history the British Isles has made a nation which recognizes itself more in its separation and difference from the continent than its similarity and kinship.
    • Speech in Turin (4 May 1971), quoted in The Common Market: The Case Against (1971), pp. 95–96
  • 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), quoted in The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (1973), pp. 97, 100
  • In the ultimate matter of life and death, survival or defeat, the insular position of the British nation has set us apart from the inhabitants of the adjacent continent. This is a political fact which cannot be pretended out of existence. As long as it remains true, or is believed by the British themselves to remain true, the commitment of Britain to any continental combination can never be total... True, it has often been rumoured that Britain had lost, or was about to lose, that characteristic; but events have hitherto always proved that she had it still, and those events are the most formative element in the folk-memory of the British people... This is the reason why Britain, which is in many sense as European as any nation, cannot be integrated politically with the European continent.
    • Speech to The Hague (17 May 1971), quoted in The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (1973), p. 109
  • In our age it is the great majority which groans under the tyranny of small minorities, and large and even preponderant masses of opinion find no corresponding voice or expression in the constituted political parties... In the Britain of today the majority are convinced that they, the majority, will always lose, and that a minority of one sort or other, however untypical, will triumph. The present discontents, and the present dangers, are those of a public opinion which feels itself to be unregarded... People feel that without their consent, without (if possible) their knowledge, and certainly against their will, their own country is being taken and altered into what they do not recognise.
    • Speech in Barton Manor, East Cowes, Isle of Wight (5 June 1971), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), pp. 14-15
  • At an educational conference not long ago, one head teacher spoke about "the seemingly planned intention of eroding all forces of authority", while another said "we know that the enemies of law and order would love to see the schools brought down, as far as their moral influence and prestige are concerned". What those head teachers were describing is what millions of people believe they are watching, helpless and not so much unregarded as positively derided: the deliberate dismantling of the frontiers of decency, morality and respect, with a view to producing far-reaching and indeterminate alterations in society itself. They do not believe that these and other phenomena, such as the spread of drugs or the undermining of the universities, are simply reflections of a change taking place spontaneously and generally. They believe that intention is at work, and that it is the intention of a small and elusive but powerful minority. What they do not understand is that they, the majority, seem to find themselves without voice or representation in the face of a prospect which appals them.
    • Speech in Barton Manor, East Cowes, Isle of Wight (5 June 1971), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), p. 15
  • Opinion has been right to fasten upon sovereignty as the central issue. Either British entry is a declaration of intent to surrender this country's sovereignty, stage by stage, in all that matters as a nation, and makes a nation, or else it is an empty gesture, disgraceful in its hollowness alike to those who proffer and to whose who accept it. The superior people laugh at those who talk about losing our Queen and our Monarchy... The Queen is the Queen in Parliament, as truly today as when her predecessor, Tudor Henry, observed that ‘we are nowhere so high in our estate royal as in this Our High Court of Parliament’. The question which the people of this country will have proposed to them is: will you, or will you not, continue to be governed by the Queen in Parliament? It is no less than that, and they have understood it.
    • Speech in Doncaster (19 June 1971), quoted in The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (1973), p. 119
  • 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), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), pp. 189-190
  • I do not believe that this nation, which has maintained and defended its independence for a thousand years, will now submit to see it merged or lost; nor did I become a member of our sovereign Parliament in order to consent to that sovereignty being abated or transferred. Come what may, I cannot and will not.
    • Speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton (13 October 1971), quoted in The Times (14 October 1971), p. 4
  • 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), quoted in Still to Decide (1972), p. 209
  • [T]he only realignment of currencies which can be lasting and satisfactory is one which is continuously worked out by a free market.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (23 November 1971)
  • The monetary belief, or the monetary myth, upon which a whole generation has been reared—that an injection of money into the system is the automatic cure for unemployment—has collapsed in the face of the experience of the past four or five years.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (23 November 1971)
  • Keynes is dead!
    • Speech (26 November 1971), quoted in The Times (29 November 1971), p. 13
  • The omnipotence of Parliament is for the British what for other nations is represented by the constitution, the declaration of independence and the law of human rights all rolled into one. That division of powers which was wrongly deduced from observation of Britain in the eighteenth century is unknown to Britain: just because we have no written constitution, the control of Parliament over both law and government has to be unlimited. In order for Britain to join the Community, the House of Commons has to be told, and to accept, that it will progressively lose its exclusive power to control legislation and government.
    • Speech in Vaduz (15 January 1972), quoted in The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (1973), pp. 30–31
  • 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), quoted in The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (1973), pp. 49-50
  • [Parliament's] uniqueness lies in its virtually uninterrupted exercise of sovereignty through the centuries, so that, in the modern world of written constitutions and artificially erected representative assemblies, there is no other nation which is one with its parliament as we are. Among all the countries of Europe there is no other of which it could be said that its history would be unintelligible, almost non-existent, if the history of its parliament were removed.
    • Speech to The Lions' Club, Brussels (24 January 1972), quoted in The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (1973), pp. 50–51
  • Such is, and will be seen to be, the effect of the legislation which the House of Commons must accept if the Treaty of Accession is to be ratified. It will be asked to divest itself of the unrestricted competence and authority which it has gained and maintained over centuries, and which the people of Britain regard as the guarantee of their national independence and political liberties.
    • Speech to The Lions' Club, Brussels (24 January 1972), quoted in The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (1973), pp. 52–53
  • 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.
  • For this House, lacking the necessary authority either out-of-doors or indoors, legislatively to give away the independence and sovereignty of this House now and for the future is an unthinkable act. Even if there were not those outside to whom we have to render account, the very stones of this place would cry out against us if we dared such a thing. We are here acting not only collectively but as individuals; and each hon. Member takes his own responsibility upon himself—as I do, when I say for myself "It shall not pass".
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Second Reading of the European Communities Bill (17 February 1972)
  • 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), quoted in A Nation or No Nation? Six Years in British Politics (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), quoted in The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (1973), pp. 57-8
  • When German sovereigns acceded to the throne of Britain, they were astonished to discover what George II used to call ‘that damned House of Commons’; but they learnt the lesson that the House of Commons had its way in the end. In former times and in modern times there has been a procession of occasions when the nations of the continent forgot or ignored the House of Commons to their cost, because to forget or ignore the people of Britain themselves, who, however late they awaken, will not suffer themselves to be parted from their heritage of parliamentary self-government and national independence.
    • Speech at Newton, Montgomeryshire (4 March 1972), quoted in The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (1973), p. 59
  • Week by week, month by month, the House of Commons votes to divest itself of what it had gained through a length of time not much shorter than the history of England itself, the trophies of its past struggles, the prizes of conflicts which will be renowned as long as English history is read.
    • Speech to the Parliamentary Press Gallery on the European Communities Bill (13 May 1972), quoted in A Nation or No Nation? Six Years in British Politics (1977), p. 41
  • [I]t is not speculation, leads and lags, and the rest which cause the trouble. It is their impact against fixed exchange rates. With a floating exchange rate, speculation is not only harmless; it actually does its work, of moving the rate to correspond accurately with the net total of all anticipations. Speculation only becomes harmful, it can only do baleful work, when it is confronted with a blatantly false assertion made and attempted to be sustained by Governments in terms of a fixed parity... [I]n a world of economic change and in a world where the major monetary powers are likely for a long time to come to be pursuing their own different policies, the nearest approach to stability we can have is by allowing those changes to be reflected in rates which are free to move. We ought now, at last, to abandon the illusion that we can call change to a halt and live in a world of our own pretence, and instead to provide, by a sensitive and continuous recognition of changing reality, at least that stability which is available.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (29 June 1972)
  • [A]s long as the rate is fixed the speculator is on a one-way option. As soon as the rate is determined by the market, speculation is equal and opposite at the market rate. One has only to imagine what would be the position—and it is not an entirely out-of-the-way analogy—if there were to be fixed rates on the Stock Exchange. Everyone would know when they were false and did not correspond with the realities. The consequence would be that from time to time we should have to unpeg the fixed rates, with catastrophic changes of value, instead of the market rates being determined by the judgments of all who participate in the market. The same happens with a floating rate for a currency.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (29 June 1972)
  • [W]ith a floating rate we should still have to cope with our own domestic inflation. Of course, with a floating rate we cannot guarantee this or that rate of increase in our domestic product. But, with a floating rate, of this we can be sure, that we shall not artificially, for the sake of a shibboleth and a fetish, impose upon this country alternately the evils of deflation and of inflation, that we shall not go on repeating the bad film seen so often during the last 25 years.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (29 June 1972)
  • All belief in democracy, above all in parliamentary democracy, is an act of faith, as the maintenance of all free institutions is an act of faith. It depends on the faith that the political will of the people is capable of self-expression and of impressing itself upon those free institutions and ultimately moulding them to its will. If that be not so, then democracy and Parliament and all their theory are empty husks. So it is a question of faith whether the people will defend, are determined to defend, have the desire and purpose to defend, or, if it is lost, to restore and regain, the supremacy of Parliament and the political independence of this country.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 July 1972)
  • The plantation of Ulster, right or wrong, wise or unwise, beneficent or not, did take place; neither it nor its consequences can be pretended out of existence. The people of this province are part of the British nation, and the soil of this province is British soil, because the great majority of its inhabitants are so minded.
    • Speech quoted in 'Is he the alternative?', The Economist (8 July 1972), p. 19
  • [T]he 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 September 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?
  • In order for all prices to rise—in other words, in order for the value of money to fall—it is necessary, it is elementary, that the supply of money, whatever precisely is meant by that, or whatever precise measurement is applied to it, should be increasing relative to the supply of goods and services; and since the supply of goods and services, however unsatisfactory we might find its growth, is certainly not diminishing, we are clearly confronted with the effective consequences of a growth in the money supply. Indeed, in a modern economy, long-term inflation—that which we have experienced in the past and of which we are experiencing an acute phase at the moment—can be explained or accounted for only in terms of the rate of increase of the money supply.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (7 November 1972)
  • The connection between the control of inflation and unemployment is that if a substantial level of inflation is in operation and that level is reduced, then to that extent it is inevitable that transitionally unemployment should result. I say again: it is inevitable that controlling inflation, in the sense of reducing or eliminating it, causes transitional unemployment... It arises from the disappointment of the expectations which are maintained during a period of inflation.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (7 November 1972)
  • During any period of inflation expectations, calculations, plans are bound to be based upon an extrapolation of that degree of inflation. After all, we all extrapolate—we have to form notions of what is to come from what has just gone. Then, if inflation in fact tails off or is eliminated, a certain proportion of those expectations are defeated, in some cases disastrously; and until resources have rearranged themselves and expectations have re-formed themselves upon the basis either of reduced inflation or of stable money values, there will be transitional unemployment of resources, including labour. Anyone who purports to reduce or end inflation without causing transitional unemployment is either deceiving himself or deceiving others; and those who object to a method which undeniably holds the key to inflation that it would cause unemployment...are really saying, though they do not dare to do so openly, that they would rather inflation continued than that additional, transitional unemployment should be incurred; for if inflation is slowed down or eliminated by whatever means—by prayer, by magic, by prices and incomes policy, or by control of the money supply—that is the result which will follow.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (7 November 1972)
  • With this Bill my right hon. Friends continue their pursuit of one of the hoariest futilities in the recorded history of politics, the attempt to use coercion in some form or other to prevent the laws of supply and demand from expressing themselves in terms of prices.
    • Speech in the House of Commons against the Counter-Inflation Bill, which introduced stage 2 of the government's prices and incomes policy (29 January 1973)
  • We must judge ourselves, but we may not judge others, even though I find it difficult to understand how those who argued, as we did in the last Parliament, against something essentially indistinguishable from this Bill, who denounced it in principle and who forswore anything of the sort when they presented themselves to the electorate, can support it now. Still, we must all answer ourselves. Therefore, I answer the question now, as I shall in the Lobby tonight, by saying that for myself I can not.
    • Speech in the House of Commons against the Counter-Inflation Bill, which introduced stage 2 of the government's prices and incomes policy (29 January 1973)
  • 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. It is worth living for; it is worth fighting for; and it is worth dying for.
    • Speech in Stockport (8 June 1973), quoted in The Times (9 June 1973), p. 3
  • 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.
    • On the BBC Radio 4 series Politics in the Seventies (10 June 1973), quoted in The Times (11 June 1973), p. 3
  • 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.
    • Discussing Britain's membership of the EEC on the BBC Radio 4 series Politics in the Seventies (10 June 1973), quoted in The Times (11 June 1973), p. 3
  • I was born ambitious, I suppose I shall die ambitious. I can no more change it than the colour of my eyes.
    • Russell Harty Plus, ITV (1973), excerpted in "Odd Man Out", BBC TV profile by Michael Cockerell transmitted on 11 November 1995
  • The whole basis and justification of the resort to statutory control of wages and prices was that the exorbitant demands and monopoly powers of the trade unions were the cause of the rate of inflation with which we were afflicted. Never, not even in pantomime, has the demon king been so speedily whipped back into the wings. His place is now occupied by what is called world prices. World prices, we are assured, are the principal if not the sole cause of the continuing inflation and the justification therefore for the continuance of a statutory policy to control in detail prices, wages, dividends, and the rest... But what has that to do with inflation? Prices change relatively to one another whether there is inflation or not. Changes in the economic world reflect themselves in real, that is relative, changes in prices. But a relative change in prices, even of a group of requirements so important as those which this country habitually imports, is not the same as inflation, and it does not cause inflation.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (17 October 1973)
  • The dilemma is this: they know, and we know, that if the rate of inflation is to be reduced, at whatever rate my right hon. and learned Friend later this afternoon announces is the Government's intention, then the result of that, for the time being, must be a slowing down of the rate of economic growth and a slowing down, to put it mildly, in the fall in unemployment. That is the known and certain consequence of reducing the rate of inflation—not of the way in which it is done but of the fact that it happens.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (17 October 1973)
  • They have a duty either to say to the country, "We propose to continue with inflation at its present level and to maintain or 'contain' it at that level, because otherwise there would be at least a temporary loss of growth and unemployment", or, alternatively, to say, "So great and intolerable are the consequences, direct and indirect, social, moral and economic, of on-going inflation at a cumulative rate of nearly 10 per cent. per annum, that we intend to bring that rate down steadily, consistently, perceptibly, and...we tell you that the price which we shall have to pay for that will be some reduction in growth and in employment." ... I am prepared to say, as I have done over and over again, that I believe inflation at 10 per cent. per annum cumulative to be an evil far more dangerous, far exceeding in its consequences the cost of the temporary dislocation which is involved in terminating it. I have said that time and again... We either go on at present with the present rate of inflation or else we deal with inflation and incur the temporary cost in terms of output and employment. In the real world there is no third choice. What the Government are doing with their counter-inflation policy is declining to take that decision in the open, declining to come forward and make clear which decision it is that they have taken, and using the counter-inflation policy as a means of pretending that a third course exists when they know that it does not.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (17 October 1973)
  • [More than a year ago I] ventured to inquire of the Prime Minister in the House of Commons whether he had taken leave of his senses. In the circumstances it was a solicitous but not unreasonable inquiry. The Government had suddenly embarked upon a course on which their predecessors had shipwrecked; which in Opposition they had consistently opposed and denounced; on which at the general election they had promised not to embark; and which ministers had been unanimously and indignantly repudiating until a few weeks before... The rate of inflation has not been lower during the period of the statutory counter-inflation policy: it has been higher. So official apologists have had to resort to the last refuge of the disconcerted: to claim that things would have been even worse without the policy... The greater evil still of all statutory counter-inflation policies is the antagonism, at once futile and disastrous, which they inevitably set up between the state on one side and the various classes and interests in the community on the other side. The danger of this was frighteningly illuminated by the Prime Minister's outburst last week against the miners, who, whether or not they are wisely led by their trade unions, have neither done nor threatened to do anything which is against the law. Yet the accusation was brought against them that, because the House of Commons had approved a government White Paper and a code which, in terms of law, is binding (if it all) only upon the Price Commission and the Pay Board, therefore the miners are defying Parliament and the people's elected representatives and placing themselves beyond the pale of the constitution. To say this is to blur, indeed to deny, the very distinction on which constitutional liberty rests, the distinction between law and not-law. If possible, more breathtaking still was the Prime Minister's assertion that (in his own words) the responsibility of the Government "expressed in the price and pay code, is not the responsibility we sought; it was a responsibility which Parliament gave us because there is no other way of containing inflation in this country". One cannot but entertain fears for the mental and emotional stability to whom such language can appear rational.
    • Speech in London (29 November 1973), quoted in The Times (30 November 1973), p. 6 and Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), pp. 682-683
  • It is deeply worrying that at a time when past budgetary policies have carried Britain deeper and deeper into inflation, and when the world is waiting to see whether we have the resolution to deal with inflation at its source, more and more symptoms appear that the Government has withdrawn into a world of make-believe of its own, in which disasters are transferred into successes, and responsibility and blame are transferred from where they belong on to synthetic obstacles and enemies.
    • Speech in London (29 November 1973), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 683
  • The wounds from which this country is bleeding today have not been inflicted by an external enemy. They are self-inflicted wounds; they are what we have done to ourselves... Over what, then, is it, that there is conflict between the unions and the State, so dangerous, so deep, that it threatens to create massive unemployment and a massive fall in the production of this country? It is the determination, incessantly repeated, of Her Majesty's Ministers that their interpretation of what can be extracted by logic from the interstices of the stage 3 price and pay code shall be the ne plus ultra, the law of the Medes and Persians, and that nothing beyond that shall be regarded as in any way reconcilable with the national interest and the national salvation. It is in pursuit of the Ministers' interpretation of statutory control of wages that we have been brought into this conflict, the conflict of which the consequences are not merely before us but are bringing anxiety to every family in the country.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (18 December 1973)
  • In 1970 my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and all of us who sit on these benches on the Government side of the House, said to the country "We utterly reject the philosophy of compulsory wage control," or again—"Labour's compulsory wage control was a failure...and we will not repeat it." Why did we say those things so emphatically, over and over again, to the country in 1970? We said them on the basis of what we had argued, experienced, seen and watched over the preceding years. We said them out of a conviction, often stated, that the inevitable result of combining inflation with the attempt to control it by compulsory control of wages was bound to be the most damaging and irresolvable conflict between State and citizens. We said them because...we were convinced in those days that inflation was the result, overwhelmingly, almost exclusively, of actions and policies which were within the power and control of Government. It was because we were convinced that if Government, for their part, would so manage the finances of the nation, if they would so frame the policies within their control, within their hands, there would, indeed, be industrial conflicts, there would be collective bargaining, carried no doubt sometimes to the use of the strike weapon, and there would be the attempt, natural and inevitable, to reassess and reassess again the real relativities between the wages of one industry and another and those of one job and another, but we would not be bringing into the arena of direct conflict between Government and citizen every wage dispute, every bargain, every price and every wage that was fixed. We were convinced that responsibilities would lie where they ought to lie—the responsibility of management and the responsibility of trade union leadership could be exercised where they belonged—if Government would exercise the responsibility which is theirs.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (18 December 1973)
  • [T]o reduce the rate of inflation in an economy from something like 10 per cent. to any figure which we would dare to regard as tolerable, cannot but be accompanied by severe stresses, one of which will be an increase in unemployment. That does not derive from the method by which it is done. It derives from the fact that it is done.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (18 December 1973)
  • I make no apology for once again reminding the House, and particularly my right hon. and hon. Friends, of what was our view not so long ago on the policies which have led us to this stage. I do so in no spirit of criticism or of recrimination, but because I believe that there are practical and important deductions to be drawn from recalling the fact that when the Conservative Party was elected by a majority we told the country that we utterly rejected the philosophy of compulsory control of wages. We said that we had seen the Labour Government's statutory control of wages fail and that we did not intend to repeat it. We did not make those statements as a matter of mere theory. We did not make them, as it were, in the margin or idly. They arose not only from theory but from the observation, both in this country and elsewhere, that the attempt to combine Government policies which in themselves are inflationary with the endeavour to regulate and control prices and wages has invariably and inevitably led to an impasse and to irresolvable conflict between the demands of Government on the one hand and the realities, as the private citizen sees and knows them, on the other. We were speaking not merely from theory but from experience.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (10 January 1974)
  • Our present experience and our present predicament was foreseen and forecast in principle. It was exactly what we had seen happen before. It was exactly what had led us to renounce the very course of action upon which we subsequently entered. We are, therefore, obliged not to seek an escape by accusing external events, such as the movement of forces and prices in the outside world, for the crisis with which we have to deal. More important still, we are freed from the danger of supposing that either we or the country at large are the victims of the perversity of a group of our fellow citizens... It is salutary to be reminded that it is an impasse which was always implicit in the course of statutory control of prices and wages upon which we engaged. When we renounced that course we did not do so merely as a contrast to a voluntary prices and wages policy. The accent was not specially upon the word statutory or compulsory. We renounced it because our whole conception of the cause and, therefore, the cure of the scourge of inflation was such that the attempt to regulate individual prices and wages, either by compulsion or by agreement, was irrelevant. In a sense, we have the grim satisfaction of seeing the realisation and verification of what we ourselves predicted.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (10 January 1974)
  • What I have learned and what I fervently believe is that neither high and stable levels of employment nor prosperity nor anything that a nation can desire is to be obtained by debauching its currency; that the mere manufacture of additional money, the mere process of inflation, though it may create temporary euphoria, is no basis upon which, for any class in the community, security or prosperity can be built. It is in that belief and in the belief that it is demonstrated by history that I speak as I do.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (10 January 1974)
  • The Government know perfectly well that, in order to cope with the rising inflation and disastrous trade balance, it is indispensable to budget for a severe increase in taxation and a further reduction in the rate of growth of public expenditure. They have the majority and the authority to do this now. They do not need an election in order to act in the national interest. Nor do they need an election to get the country back to full-time work. Neither the miners nor the other trade unions have broken the law or threatened to break it. There is nothing sacrosanct about stage 3 or the Government's interpretations of it. A settlement will have to be found in the mining industry – and in every other industry – which will get the necessary labour into the necessary jobs.
    • Statement (15 January 1974), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), pp. 692-693
  • Could my right hon. Friend explain why the increase in oil prices is deflationary but the increase in all other international prices has apparently been inflationary?
  • It is for me supremely that kind of question on which, if there be a conflict between the call of country and that of party, the call of country must come first. Curiously, it so happens that the question 'Who governs Britain?' which at the moment is being frivolously posed, might be taken, in real earnest, as the title of what I have to say. This is the first and last election at which the British people will be given the opportunity to decide whether their country is to remain a democratic nation, governed by the will of its own electorate expressed in its own Parliament, or whether it will become one province in a new European superstate under institutions which know nothing of the political rights and liberties that we have so long taken for granted.
    • Speech in Birmingham (23 February 1974), quoted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (1991), p. 454
  • The question is: can they now be prevented from taking back into their own hands the decision about their identity and their form of government which truly was theirs all along? I do not believe they can be prevented: for they are now, at a general election, provided with a clear, definite and practicable alternative, namely, a fundamental renegotiation directed to regain free access to world food markets and recover or retain the powers of Parliament, a renegotiation to be followed in any event by a specific submission of the outcome to the electorate, a renegotiation protected by an immediate moratorium or stop on all further integration of the UK into the Community. This alternative is offered, as such an alternative must be in our parliamentary democracy, by a political party capable of securing a majority in the House of Commons and sustaining a Government.
    • Speech in Birmingham advising people to vote Labour (23 February 1974), quoted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (1991), p. 458
  • Now there are a lot of people about whom it behoves to be very cautious in accusing their political opponents of past or prospective U-turns. In acrobatics Harold Wilson, for all his nimbleness and skill, is simply no match for the breathtaking, thoroughgoing efficiency of the present Prime Minister [Heckler: "Judas!"] Judas was paid! Judas was paid! I am making a sacrifice!
    • Speech in Shipley, Yorkshire (25 February 1974), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), pp. 708-709
  • I was born a Tory, am a Tory and shall die a Tory. It is part of me...it is something I cannot alter.
    • Speech in Shipley, Yorkshire (25 February 1974), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 709
  • I remember in the winter of 1945–46 cycling by myself along an open road near Muttra, 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.
    • 'A complex fate', The Spectator (6 April 1974), p. 12
  • Once got within the walls, physical and liturgical, of the Church of England, I was proud enough and English enough to see that it was a goodly inheritance from which, like a prodigal son, I had so long deliberately exiled myself. However, like someone who returns after long absence to an ancestral home, I looked at the half-familiar scenes with new eyes. Here was yet another kind of truth which I had not suspected. For all the wonders of the national church and its mother tongue, there was no stopping-place there, no rest for the soles of the feet. I discovered that whoever entered the south door of a parish church had stepped inside the Church Universal. The more he laboured to understand and to render intelligible the inheritance of his own church, the more plainly he would confront the fact of the Catholic Church: that the truth of the Gospel and the truth of the Church, the existence of the Gospel and the existence of the Church, the knowledge of the Gospel and the knowledge of the Church, are indivisible, and the one unthinkable without the other. I had been compelled to acknowledge a truth that is corporate, and when I had done so, I noticed that the loyalties I had lived with in war and peace had been corporate too.
    • 'Introduction', No Easy Answers (1973), pp. 4-5
  • The English state was the only one which finally resolved the great debate of the Middle Ages by the principle of supremacy, that is, by refusing to recognise that there could be any power or right of human compulsion over its members which derived from a source outside the realm, or that there could be concurrent sources of compulsion within the realm. This solution reflects, and no doubt emphasises, a characteristic of this nation which differentiates it from other European nations on either side of the Atlantic more than we or they commonly recognise. On the European mainland and in America concurrence of powers and limitation of sovereignty are taken for granted; in Britain we simply do not imagine them... In the United Kingdom the ultimate sovereignty resides in one person, upon whose authority when in Parliament the law knows no limitations.
    • 'God Save the Queen', sermon to the St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London (26 November 1974), quoted in Wrestling with the Angel (1977), p. 78
  • It is because everywhere else in Christendom the state has been rebuilt within the last two hundred years upon principles which derive sovereignty from elsewhere than the monarch...that Britain is today the only surviving state which exercises spiritual as well as temporal authority and where sovereignty is ecclesiastical as well as secular... For us alone the identity of nation and Church survives in the symbolism of historical forms, and the link between spiritual and secular sovereignty is still, despite everything, a living reality.
    • 'God Save the Queen', sermon to the St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London (26 November 1974), quoted in Wrestling with the Angel (1977), pp. 78-79
  • "God save the Queen"... is the distinctive self-assertion, come what may, of one nation against the rest; she is not their Queen, she is our Queen, and her allegiance marks us off as a separate people.
    • 'God Save the Queen', sermon to the St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London (26 November 1974), quoted in Wrestling with the Angel (1977), p. 80
  • As I watch and listen to the voices that are raised to persuade electors to surrender their own birthright because they fear their fellow subjects, I think I discern ahead the shape of a Conservative Party that is the party of a class, and not of a nation – and thus doomed to extinction.
    • The Guardian (12 May 1975), quoted in Robert Shepherd, Enoch Powell (1997), p. 464
  • 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 one stark fact', The Times (4 June 1975), p. 14
  • Never again, by the necessity of an axiom, will an Englishman live for his country or die for his country: the country for which people live and die was obsolete and we have abolished it. Or not quite yet. No, not yet. The Referendum is not a ‘verdict’ after which the prisoner is hanged forthwith. It is no more than provisional... This will be so as long as one Parliament can alter or undo whatever that or any other Parliament has done. Hence those golden words in the Government's Referendum pamphlet: ‘Our continued membership will depend on the continuing assent of Parliament.’
    • The Daily Telegraph (9 June 1975), quoted in David Butler and Uwe Kitzinger, The 1975 Referendum (1976), p. 274
  • 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), quoted in Enoch Powell on 1992 (1989), p. 144
  • Inflation is caused by a continuing surfeit of money; inflation can therefore be controlled or prevented only by striking at the source of money surfeit. It follows that all prices and incomes policies are irrelevant and futile, whether they are voluntary or compulsory. If the surfeit of money continues, then all prices and incomes must rise accordingly.
    • Speech to the Arundel Young Conservatives in Littlehampton (20 June 1975), quoted in The Times (21 June 1975), p. 3
  • There is the guilty knowledge that a fall in the rate of inflation must be accompanied by a rise in the rate of unemployment and that a sharp fall from a high rate of inflation must have severe consequences, which are inescapable. This is because an economy geared to inflation at 25 per cent per annum has to undergo a terrific readjustment to change to expectation of only 15 per cent or 10 per cent per annum inflation. Since inflation cannot go on up for ever, this prospect is inescapable.
    • Speech to the Arundel Young Conservatives in Littlehampton (20 June 1975), quoted in The Times (21 June 1975), p. 3
  • To be loyal is, for the Unionist, to accept the will of Parliament as expressed in the law of the land, which is made by the Crown in Parliament... What, however, no person who calls himself a Unionist can do without self-contradiction, is to place limits or conditions upon his obedience to the Crown in Parliament. He cannot say: "If Parliament makes laws I do not like, I will not obey them". He cannot say: "Unless Parliament amends the present laws in the way I want, I will go off and declare myself independent".
    • Speech in Kilkeel, County Down (5 July 1975), quoted in The Times (7 July 1975), p. 2
  • It would be hard nowadays to find a practitioner who upon being pressed did not confess to two main propositions: the disease of inflation in its modern form is caused by an exorbitant increase in money; and, secondly, that increase is caused by governments borrowing from the banking system in order to cover excess public expenditure.
    • Speech to the Tyneside Junior Chamber of Commerce in Newcastle (6 October 1975), quoted in The Times (7 October 1975), p. 2
  • The devolution debate will be based upon a proposition no less objectively false than to assert that two and two make five. It is the proposition that it is possible to establish one or more local parliaments within the unitary parliamentary state known as the United Kingdom.
    • Speech to the City Conservative Forum in London (12 November 1975), quoted in The Times (13 November 1975), p. 4
  • [A written constitution] would replace the Crown in Parliament by a supreme court as the ultimate sovereign authority; for wherever there is a written constitution, the true sovereign in the state is that piece of paper, and its priesthood—the ultimate human sovereigns—are the judges who authoritatively interpret it... I am extremely doubtful if the people of Britain, when they discovered what was involved, would prefer to be governed instead by an unelected unrepresentative judiciary, or would be willing to dethrone the Crown in Parliament as their sovereign in order to install her Majesty's judges in the vacant space.
    • Speech to the City Conservative Forum in London (12 November 1975), quoted in The Times (13 November 1975), p. 4
  • It is a profound fallacy to suppose that there is anything to be regretted in a fall in the exchange rate. A fall in the exchange rate mirrors one or both of two things. It either mirrors a decline in our real terms of trade, or else, or also, it mirrors differential inflation in this country compared with inflation in the other countries with whose currencies we are comparing the exchange value of our own. On neither of those grounds is a fall, if there be a fall, in the exchange rate a sign that something is wrong with us or that the fall ought to be suppressed and forcibly reversed. If a fall in the exchange rate reflects a fall in the real terms of trade—if it really means that an item we are producing at the moment exchanges in Toronto or Timbuctoo for less than it formerly did—that is due to an alteration in the economic pattern of the world as a whole. The sooner and the more accurately we know about it, the sooner and the more accurately we shall adapt and alter our behaviour and productive efforts to fit those changes in the real world of which, in the end, we are the servants and not the masters, whether under a Labour Government or under any other sort of Government in this country.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (25 November 1975)
  • My own view—I will put it more strongly: my conviction—is that the death penalty would not only not be a deterrent to terrorism but would be a stimulus to terrorism. It would not be a deterrent...because...we are dealing with men the very nature of whose activity is that they are prepared to risk their lives.
  • It is easy to talk about the death penalty in the abstract, before anybody is caught, before terrorists have been sentenced and are in the eye of the public and the world. What, a girl of 17? That is who it might be... So we should find that the instrument with which we thought we had armed ourselves had broken in our hands. It would recoil upon us, because we should discover that a torrent of revulsion prevented us from applying what we had taken up as the supreme weapon of defence. That should be enough to satisfy one that the death penalty would not be a deterrent. But I have said more: I have said that I believe that it would be a positive incitement to terrorism. What could be more desirable for those who are anyway prepared to risk their lives in a cause which they hold honourable—although we cannot imagine how it could be honourable to uphold it by their means—than that, instead of the possibility of imprisonment for a number of years on conviction, they could have martyrdom, the glittering prize of terrorism throughout the history of revolution in Ireland? That would be the great attraction—even if the death penalty were not made the ground or the justification for further terrorism, which many people would consider it to be. So the death penalty would be an incentive rather than a deterrent.
  • When we speak of the pride and self-confidence of our nation, the Crown—the Monarchy—is absolutely central; nor do I know how better one would gauge the state of this nation's psychological health, of its national morale, than by its attitude towards its greatest, its unique, institution... Of all the sources of true and proper pride to a British person none is greater than the common possession of the Crown. I use the word "possession" advisedly, in its full and most literal sense. Because our Crown is the product of the history of this nation, because it grows like an oak in the soil of these islands, it is therefore the personal possession of every citizen and subject, however humble, however poor. It is a total misconception...to suppose that there is anything of class, anything which is restrictive or destricted, about the Crown. Whatever may be said of any other institution, the Crown is the common, precious and hereditary jewel of all British subjects and of all the people of this country. To approach that common possession, that symbol and personification, with the attitude, "How ungenerous can we be? How little can we contrive to spend upon it? How much can we clip?"—not of its magnificence, for it has ever been the pride of English greatness not to be magnificent through lavishness, but in more fundamental ways—"How much can we restrict the outward signs and manifestations of what the Crown is to this country?" is a sign that we are still divorced from the pride and self-confidence without which a nation cannot face the world and without which this nation cannot learn to face the world again.
  • 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 (19 January 1976)
  • Although there are aspects of mugging which are continuous, permanent, old-fashioned, the new word is describing a typically new thing. That new thing, as is recently being admitted, is connected with the change in the composition of the population of certain of our great cities. To use a crude but efficient word for it, it is racial. Its prevalence is due to the fact that an implant into our society has changed a community that was previously homogeneous into a community which is no longer homogeneous and self-identifying... I was delighted with the terminology of the Metropolitan Police report to the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration: ‘Experience has taught us the fallibility of the assertion that crime rates amongst those of West Indian origin are no higher than those of the population at large’. Splendidly expressed! Beautifully expressed!
    • Address ('The Role of the Individual') to "The Challenge of Crime", Police Federation Seminar in Cambridge (April 1976), quoted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (1991), p. 562
  • 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), quoted in A Nation or No Nation? Six Years in British Politics (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 (24 May 1976)
  • 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.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (8 July 1976)
  • In 1940 the voice which cried "Speak for England" came from a Tory bench. It comes from there no longer... The Conservative Party declared that the nation state as exemplified by an independent and self-governing United Kingdom was obsolete. Thereby for me the Conservative Party ceased to be the Conservative Party which I thought I knew.
    • Speech to the Young Conservatives in Kensington (30 September 1976), quoted in The Times (1 October 1976), p. 12
  • 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), quoted in A Nation or No Nation? Six Years in British Politics (1977), p. 174
  • Like the Home Rule Bills of Gladstone and Asquith, not one of which was ever put into practice, the Scotland and Wales Bill contains at its heart a contradiction not merely insoluble but destructive. It sets up parliaments in parts of the kingdom, but allows the MPs from those parts to make law for the rest of the country upon the self same subjects over which legislative power is transferred to the new parliaments.
    • Speech in Whiteabbey, South Antrim on the Scotland Bill and the Wales Bill (6 January 1977), quoted in The Times (7 January 1977), p. 2
  • Through my childhood and adolescence the land and the buildings of England and Wales were perceived by me always somehow in a fourth dimension, the dimension of time, as if they were the stage and scenery of the long epic of the English kings. The predominant role of the monarchy and its bearers was as unifiers: they seemed to be the nation-creators, and later the empire-creators, both actively, by force and policy, and passively, as the unifying focus of sentiment and the source of lawful authority.
    • 'Patriotism', sermon to the St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London (18 January 1977), quoted in Wrestling with the Angel (1977), p. 2
  • Though legend relates otherwise, I would not have chosen, if I could have avoided it, to become the eponymous exponent of the conviction that by no contrivance can the prospective size and distribution of our population of 'New Commonwealth ethnic origin'...prove otherwise than destructive of this nation. The basis of my conviction is neither genetic nor eugenic; it is not racial, because I can never understand what 'race' means and I have never arranged my fellow men on a scale of merit according to their origin. The basis is political. It is the belief that self-identification of each part with the whole is the one essential precondition of being a parliamentary nation, and that the massive shift in the composition of the population of the inner metropolis and of major towns and cities of England will produce, not fortuitously or avoidably, but by the sheer inevitabilities of human nature in society, ever increasing and more dangerous alienation.
    • 'Patriotism', sermon to the St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London (18 January 1977), quoted in Wrestling with the Angel (1977), p. 5
  • A victorious continental enemy, determined to absorb this United Kingdom into its dominions, could not have dictated at Westminster a more comprehensively humiliating surrender than the Act which Parliament passed in 1972 in order that this country should become part of the European Economic Community. It enacted that the laws of an external authority should prevail over our domestic laws, it gave an external authority the power to legislate and tax without the consent of Parliament, it placed in the hands of that external authority the whole control of Britain's trade. Moreover, those who counselled it did so on the express ground that Britain was obsolete as a nation state. Wilhelm II could not have demanded so much; I doubt if Hitler would have demanded more. I can still only half believe that I was myself an unwilling witness to my country's abnegation of its own national independence... I can only say that I will never accept as fait accompli the renunciation of our national independence and the destruction of our parliamentary sovereignty which took place in 1972.
    • 'Patriotism', sermon to the St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London (18 January 1977), quoted in Wrestling with the Angel (1977), pp. 6-7
  • We, this nation, have a right, because we are such, to formulate and follow the standards by which we will judge the worth of what we do and of what others offer to us and expect from us... The breath which condemns submission to laws this nation has not made condemns submission to scales of value which this nation has not willed. To both sorts of submission I ascribe that haunting fear, which I am sure I am not alone in feeling, that we, the British will soon have nothing left to die for. That was not a slip of the tongue. What a man lives for is what a man dies for, because every bit of living is a bit of dying. At the beginning I refused to define patriotism; but now at the end I venture it. Patriotism is to have a nation to die for, and to be glad to die for it—all the days of one's life.
    • 'Patriotism', sermon to the St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London (18 January 1977), quoted in Wrestling with the Angel (1977), p. 8
  • 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...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...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 (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.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (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 ... end in failure.
  • 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 (1977), p. 151
  • Christianity does not, repeat, not, look forward to a gradual betterment of human behaviour and society or to the progressive spread of peace and justice upon earth. Still less does Christianity purport to offer a scheme or general outline for bringing that about. Quite the reverse, it uniformly teaches, as if to emphasize the point for good measure, that things will get worse rather than better before we are through.
    • Wrestling with the Angel (1977), p. 61
  • 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), quoted in Enoch Powell on 1992 (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), quoted in Enoch Powell on 1992 (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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 800
  • [Conservative Party bosses are] Athenian oligarchs who would always sacrifice culture for class.
    • Interview with David Butler (1978), quoted in Charles Moore, Margaret Thatcher. The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning (2013), p. 383
  • It is one of the handicaps arising from our insularity and a peculiar side effect of our self-conceit that we are simply incapable of comprehending the depth and durability of the resentment which is held against us by the Germans and the French, by the Germans for the obvious reason that we defeated them; by the French for the less obvious but still more potent reason that we did not share in their defeat... Nobody is more Francophile than I am. But we understand nothing if we do not understand the axiomatic nature of the laws of attraction and repulsion between an off-shore island nation and the political system of the adjacent continent... Politics is the continuation of war by other means... It is a little reminder that for the principal continental nations, notably Germany and France, the European Economic Community is indeed "the continuation of war by other means".
    • Speech in London (10 February 1978), quoted in The Times (11 February 1978), p. 2 and Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 801
  • The TUC are about as desirous of providing an alternative government to the Crown in Parliament as the Chiefs of Staff... The fear of domination by trade union power is among the most divisive and the most spurious.
    • Speech in Eastbourne (2 June 1978), quoted in The Times (3 June 1978), p. 2
  • 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 be 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), quoted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (1991), p. 577
  • Look where you like...and you will see the political structure of the EEC being progressively and deliberately used to draw Britain into inextricable attachment – industrially, agriculturally, socially, and economically – to the West European land mass by weakening and then extinguishing its organs of independent self-determination. It is the assertion of continental hegemony over the off-shore island nation; but within that continental hegemony the hegemony of France, which twenty years ago would have been scoffed at as unthinkable, is today a practical and growing reality. In the web that is being woven quietly, unhurryingly, unceasingly, the purchase of Chrysler (UK) by Peugeot would be one more thread. It is a political and not an economic question, a national and not an industrial question, upon which the British Cabinet have to decide. If they understand, Her Majesty's government will say no.
    • Speech in Chelsea (6 September 1978), quoted in Enoch Powell on 1992 (1989), p. 46
  • 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), quoted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (1991), p. 263
  • 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 (22 May 1979)
  • Being a nation is, in the last resort, subjective; those who feel they are a nation and behave accordingly are one.
    • The Guardian (4 June 1979), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 822
  • Is the Chancellor aware that I envy him the opportunity and the privilege of announcing a step that will strengthen the economy of this country and help to restore our national pride and confidence in our currency?
  • The first rule of German statecraft is the maintenance of the Common Market link with France... Germany and France are the Siamese twins of the European Community. Britain, we ought clearly to understand, all humbug set aside, is expendable. Her function in the Community is to provide the continent with a captive market for dear food, and to place at the disposal of the Community for common use Britain's assets, whether they be the seas around her coasts (the ‘Community's fish stocks’) or her sources of power (the ‘Community's energy stocks’). It is not by accident that Britain finds herself the milch cow of Europe: that was the idea of it from the start... [T]he capture of the United Kingdom by the Common Market represented the reversal of Britain's successful maintenance of her independence since the 16th century: the counter-attack in a new, non-military form had at last succeeded and reduced the historic arbiter of Europe, at least temporarily, to the disarmed status of another European state. The combination of Germany and France, that eventuality dreaded and always frustrated by our forefathers, has produced, albeit under an expected guise, the outcome they foresaw.
    • Speech in Forfar (9 November 1979), quoted in Enoch Powell on 1992 (1989), pp. 47–48


  • [The source of continuous hostility to Unionism for years has been] that nest of vipers, that nursery of traitors, which is known as the British Foreign Office.
    • Speech to the Orange Lodge in Dundonald, County Down (3 January 1980), quoted in The Times (4 January 1980), p. 3
  • If identical goods were being produced at widely differing efficiency in different parts of the United Kingdom or if the United Kingdom and Germany, or Japan, or the United States, were part of a single unit with a single currency, then of course the less efficient producers would be knocked out. That is why Germany is so keen for Britain to go into the European Monetary System, so that it can wipe out the British industries which it is in competition.
    • Speech in London (21 March 1980), quoted in Enoch Powell on 1992 (1989), p. 97
  • The few Roman Catholics who serve in the [Ulster Defence] regiment today are very brave men indeed. They do so at the risk of their lives in a way that their colleagues do not. I am proud to have some of those men in my constituency and to know them personally.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (29 April 1980)
  • "Because it has come to be so" is the only, but to him sufficient, answer which the Englishman gives for his institutions and the authority which is immanent in them.
    • Speech to the Leicester Junior Chamber (16 May 1980), quoted in Roger Scruton, 'The Language of Enoch Powell', in Lord Howard of Rising (ed.), Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell (2012), p. 121
  • The Englishman instinctively treats loyalty as by its nature unconditional, because he has – so to speak – nowhere else to go: the Crown and the institutions described collectively as those "set in authority under it" are his peculiar possession, they are his own history, his own nationhood, and he can only defy them and divest himself of them at the cost of denying himself.
    • Speech to the Carlyle Club, Peterhouse, Cambridge (24 May 1980), quoted in Roger Scruton, 'The Language of Enoch Powell', in Lord Howard of Rising (ed.), Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell (2012), p. 119
  • There is no doubt that the contrast is patent between what we call, with too gross a classification, the developed and the undeveloped countries... Why is there this difference, this divergence, this bifurcation? ... [I]t is not due to any difference in intellectual capacity, human ability or insight. It is an absurd notion that the European is intellectually superior to vast millions of the human race in Asia and elsewhere. The subtlety, the insight, the power of reflection and of argument to be found in India and elsewhere are equal to anything which is within our conception or grasp. As for character and human ability, it would be ludicrous, and a confession of total and boorish ignorance, to say that it is difference in those respects which accounts for these differences of experience. In case I be misunderstood, may I say at once that I do not believe that the IQ method of analysing the human race produces useful results for this purpose. I doubt whether many of the characteristics which we regard as typically and transcendentally European are purely intellectual. I think they have in them very much of the moral and very much of the social.
  • Will the right hon. Lady take the opportunity today and every day to make clear to the country, as only she can, that the courses that are being commended to her by the official Opposition and by many other voices mean nothing but a deliberate return to hyper-inflation?
    • Question to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the House of Commons (22 July 1980)
  • 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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), 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), quoted in Enoch Powell on 1992 (1989), pp. 59, 61
  • [A]llegiance is the very essence of nationhood, there is no meaning in nationhood without allegiance. Nationhood means that a man stands to one nation, to one loyalty, against all others—that is what it is about.
  • [I see no reason to depart from my view] that at some point along the line of growth, absolute and proportionate, of the Commonwealth population in London and the other English cities affected, there lies the certainty of violence on a scale which can only be adequately described as civil war.
    • Speech to the Young Conservatives in Ashton-under-Lyne (28 March 1981), quoted in The Times (30 March 1981), p. 2
  • 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
  • Of course we didn't know how distinguished we were. We didn't know that others were to get the Nobel Prize and not share it with us for the monetarist theory. But, of course, men are not primarily activated by economic motives and I have always therefore assigned free economics a place only, a subordinate place, inside the whole of politics. And, in speech after speech to my countrymen, I've said: "Now, if you don't care for this or that, then that's your choice. Go your ways, but if what you are wanting is this or that economic result, then this is the way to get it." But I have never regarded economics as other than subordinate in the scale of values and, in recent years, and particularly vis-à-vis this government, which I think is sometimes too materialistic, too ready to establish what it calls competitive criteria.
    • The Listener (28 May 1981), volume 105 (1981), p. 698
  • [T]hose of us who have seen—the insight is not restricted to any single party or to politicians alone—the future population content of inner London and other great cities have been unable to imagine that that could come about without at some stage—I will use phrases which I have used myself—inner London becoming ungovernable or violence which could only effectually be described as civil war.
  • 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), quoted in Enoch Powell on 1992 (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), quoted in Enoch Powell on 1992 (1989), p. 127
  • Lord Scarman found that what he calls "the black community" was alienated. He found also that the black community suffered a number of disadvantages: in a period and in areas of special difficulties—economic, occupational, environmental—it had more than its fair share. The assumption—it is not argued; it is not even explicitly stated: it is an assumption—is that the black community is alienated because it is disadvantaged. That is a dangerous gap in the reasoning; for it is by no means self-evident, and by no means necessary, that the two facts should be connected as cause and effect. There is another possible explanation of the alienation. It is that the community, being of that size and composition and in those circumstances, is alien: alienation can be a manifestation of being alien. It can be the self-perception and the being perceived by others as different and distinct; and, in the case of a black community...it is a difference which is instantly and mutually visible and which produces mutual coherence or repulsion.
  • 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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), 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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), 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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 853
  • The Prime Minister [Margaret Thatcher], shortly after she came into office, received a soubriquet as the "Iron Lady". It arose in the context of remarks which she made about defence against the Soviet Union and its allies; but there was no reason to suppose that the right hon. Lady did not welcome and, indeed, take pride in that description. In the next week or two this House, the nation and the right hon. Lady herself will learn of what metal she is made.
    • Speech in the House of Commons after Argentina's invasion of the Falkland Islands (3 April 1982)
  • It is not unknown for people coming to my house to be told by the taxi-driver that there is no charge. It is an unintended and unsought testimonial, but I would be surprised if that I feel is not what the mass of my fellow countrymen feel. I don't feel separate just because I was a professor of Greek. My countrymen say: "this man sees what we see, he feels as we feel, he's one of us, thank God."
    • Interview with The Daily Mail (13 April 1982), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 855
  • 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.
    • 'We have the will, we don't need the humbug', The Times (12 June 1982), p. 12
  • The British Labour Party has always been nationalist, if not insular, and...not just democratic but parliamentarian. But it is confrontation with the EEC that has presented the Labour Party with an uninhibited appeal to patriotism. Internationalist it may be in phrases; when it comes to policy, it is nationalist.
    • 'In judgment on political casebooks', The Saturday Times (9 April 1983), p. 5
  • I am not mistaken in knowing that in 1935 I was convinced there would be another German War and I must expect to be killed in it. I am not mistaken in remembering that in 1937 at a Trinity College feast, when the guest of honour said 'Our Government is doing its best to prevent war', I shouted out from the fellows' table 'But we want war'. I am not mistaken in remembering that in 1937, driving to Boar's Hill with Gilbert Murray, I said to him "There's no hope for us unless we go to war with Germany" and he looked me straight in the eyes and replied "I think so too". Nor have I imagined the immensity of the relief when on 3 September 1939 I learnt that appeasement and betrayal were over and that England, if it went down, would go down fighting.
    • 'Our myopic island race', The Spectator (16 April 1983), p. 22
  • 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
  • By one of those happy combinations of circumstance in English history which half persuade us that our nation is specially favoured by Providence, the Book of Common Prayer was preserved intact through more than four centuries while the passage of time subtly imparted to it the supercharge of archaism and familiarity which it could not possess at the outset but which make it a uniquely English vehicle of religious and ritual expression.
    • 'The Language of the Prayer Book', address to The National Conference of The Prayer Book Society in Trinity Hall, Cambridge (10 September 1983), published in The Salisbury Review, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Winter 1984), quoted in Roger Scruton (ed.), Conservative Thoughts (1988), p. 75
  • Until the synodical revolution of the Worship and Doctrine Measure 1974, the language of the Book of Common Prayer was distinguished by being uniquely authoritative, established and fixed by the Crown in Parliament, the supreme source of authority in this realm... The Tractarians were doubly right when they acclaimed the Book of Common Prayer as the proof of the catholicism of the Anglican Church: right because the words and formulae, being themselves impregnable, were susceptible of an interpretation which bridged the gulf of the Reformation; and right because the essential mark of catholicism, uniformity imposed by universal authority, was placed upon it by the untrammelled imperium of the English nation state. Without the authoritative fixity of its liturgy, the unique comprehensiveness and broadmindedness of the Church of England would not have been possible.
    • 'The Language of the Prayer Book', address to The National Conference of The Prayer Book Society in Trinity Hall, Cambridge (10 September 1983), published in The Salisbury Review, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Winter 1984), quoted in Roger Scruton (ed.), Conservative Thoughts (1988), pp. 78-78
  • 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), quoted in George R. Urban, Diplomacy and Disillusion at the Court of Margaret Thatcher. An Insider's View (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), quoted in Reflections of a Statesman: The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (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.
  • It was educational heresy to justify spending money on education to make factories and enterprises more profitable and competitive. "The state which tries to use its power to exalt and promote the one kind of learning to the disadvantage of the other is an inhuman and barbarous state. In the end it will bring down upon its subjects the penalties which attend upon all humanity and barbarism, when the greedy expectations attached to the advancement of science turn to bitterness and disillusionment." Education was a good thing in itself. It was a strong human instinct and needed no secondary justification.
    • Speech to the annual dinner of the Merchant Taylors' Company in London (20 December 1984), quoted in The Times (21 December 1984), p. 5
  • Having risen at my customary hour of seven, going down, tiptoeing down, and seeing the paper slanting through the letterbox, and reading the words “Heath's Gamble...” Heath's Gamble? I thought. Gamble? So I pulled it through and it fell out flat on the mat: “Heath's Gamble Fails”. So I took it up with me to the bathroom and sang the Te Deum.
    • Recalling the day after the February 1974 general election, quoted in Phillip Whitehead, The Writing on the Wall: Britain in the Seventies (1985), p. 113
  • The prospect I have put before you demands that government, politicians and public answer the following question: What sort of a country will Britain be when its capital, other cities and areas of England consist of a population of which at least one-third is of African and Asian descent? I have not dodged that question since it was first posed. My answer, upon a maturely considered judgment, is that it will be a Britain unimaginably wracked by dissension and violent disorder, not recognizable as the same nation as it has been, or perhaps as a nation at all.
    • 'My challenge to Mrs Thatcher', The Times (21 September 1985), p. 8
  • Does the right hon. Lady understand—if she does not yet understand she soon will—that the penalty for treachery is to fall into public contempt?
  • 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; quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 901
  • The rights of a freeborn Englishman, which used to be secured to him by his native institutions, are no longer good enough. On pain of displeasing an outside world that lived under horrid tyrannies long after England was self-governing, we petition foreign judges sitting on the continent to declare and enforce our rights by interpreting at their discretion a document which no English lawyer...would imagine in a nightmare. We tolerate these judges telling the House of Commons what the House of Commons shall or shall not do. Bitterest of all, and freshest in our minds today, the English, who once were wont, if allies failed, to defend themselves alone against ‘the three corners of the world in arms’, accept with apparent docility the occupation of their soil in time of peace by self-appointed protectors, as though the Roman legions were still stationed at York and Caerleon, and we pay them the humiliating tribute of conforming ourselves to their policies, their strategies, and their philosophy. England has forgotten itself.
  • "Parliament" is a word of magic and power in this country. We refer to "parliamentary sovereignty." We live under the sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament. Our history and political life would be unintelligible if Parliament were removed from that history. There is no other European nation of which the same can be said. There is no other European nation at the heart of whose identity and history lies its parliamentary assembly.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (26 June 1986)
  • 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.
    • Last speech in the House of Commons on Foreign Affairs (7 April 1987)
  • 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.
    • Remarks during the general election campaign (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 that people should vote Labour, who had unilateral nuclear disarmament as their policy (7 June 1987), quoted in The Times (8 June 1987), p. 12
  • Powell: The people who think they are the people of this country will be fighting for their country.
    Ross: I'm not sure that I understand that. Surely many black people regard themselves as genuinely British.
    Powell: People fight for power, people fight for domination.
    Ross: And this will be a battle for domination?
    Powell: And they try to resist it.
    Ross: What do you think the outcome will be?
    Powell: Appalling.
    • Interview with Nick Ross for Channel 4 (1987), quoted in Robert Shepherd, Enoch Powell (1997), p. 366
  • England alone found the way to transmute its feudal assembly into a matchless instrument of free government, which the rest of the world vainly aspire to imitate.
    • Speech to the St George's Dinner of the Honourable Artillery Company (21 April 1988), quoted in Michael Forsyth, 'Constitutional Reform', in Lord Howard of Rising (ed.), Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell (2012), p. 78
  • 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 EEC however is not, and never has been, about freedom of trade: it is about, and always has been about, a closed-off internal trading system in Europe... What the EEC is bent upon has nothing to do with free trade or free anything. It is a naked assertion of the will to power, the will to create a unified state to which instead of our own national organs of representation and government we are all to be subordinated.
    • Speech in Halifax (26 September 1988), quoted in Enoch Powell on 1992 (1989), p. 33
  • 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), quoted in Enoch Powell on 1992 (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)
  • The European Community now fills the place in socialist thinking which used to be occupied by the Comintern.
    • On the Labour Party's favourable attitude to the European Community's social legislation; speech in Blackpool (12 October 1989), quoted in Paul Corthorn, Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain (2019), p. 126
  • We obey our laws because we feel them to be our laws; we submit to be governed by our institutions because we feel them to be our institutions. They are identified with us, intuitively and emotionally, because we are, we think, part and parcel of them and they of us.
    • Speech in Orpington (17 November 1989), quoted in Michael Forsyth, 'Constitutional Reform', in Lord Howard of Rising (ed.), Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell (2012), p. 82


  • I was born a Tory. Define: a Tory is a person who regards authority as immanent in institutions. I had always been, as far back as I could remember in my existence, a respecter of institutions, a respecter of monarchy, a respecter of the deposit of history, a respecter of everything in which authority was capable of being embodied, and that must surely be what the Conservative Party was about, the Conservative Party as the party of the maintenance of acknowledged prescriptive authority.
    • 'Theory and Practice', in G. M. K. Hunt (ed.), Philosophy and Politics (1990), p. 2
  • 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 (1998), p. 928
  • Like all human institutions, it [the state] too is mortal. An observer watching the behaviour and listening to the language of British politicians since 1972...would have been reasonably entitled to conclude that the British had become disenchanted with the unique form of government which continues to distinguish them from their continental contemporaries and had resolved to abandon parliamentary self-government under an unwritten constitution in order to be embraced by a single state – and that a unitary, not a federal state – comprising western Europe, the Iberian peninsula and Greece and live forever under treaties interpreted by the European Court. I am not the person best qualified to advise you whether that judgement would be premature, because my own obstinate refusal to countenance the abandonment of parliamentary self-government by the United Kingdom has resulted in my living the life of an Ishmael in British politics since 1972. I will therefore do no more than leave you with some cautionary words of a general character. Nations do tend to behave remarkably like themselves and to revert to past habits even after appearing to have departed from them for sometimes lengthy periods. The most reliable indication of a nation's future behaviour is its history. It would be an exaggeration no doubt, but a venial exaggeration, to say that the history of Britain is the history of British parliamentary self-government.
    • Speech in Lisbon (7 May 1990), quoted in Michael Forsyth, 'Constitutional Reform', in Lord Howard of Rising (ed.), Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell (2012), p. 84
  • Unlike every other parliament in the world, the parliament of the United Kingdom does not owe its existence to any document or treaty.
    • Paper delivered in Oporto (8 May 1990), quoted in Michael Forsyth, 'Constitutional Reform', in Lord Howard of Rising (ed.), Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell (2012), p. 65
  • It is debate which holds government to account or, to put the matter less pompously, forces government to make sense – if it can. For hour after hour or, if the subject is legislation, in detailed debate after detailed debate, ministers have to prove, if they can, the truth and the common sense about what they are doing or proposing. In the end, they and the whole House know what to make of it all; and because the House of Commons knows what to make of it all, the people outside also get to know. That is the real restraint upon what government can do. That is the inner meaning – I almost said "the private meaning" – of British democracy; for it is distinctively a parliamentary democracy... Government upon advice is the secret which has enabled the British to retain intact through so many vicissitudes the monarchy which remains the focus of national loyalty as well as the dynamo by which the machinery of the state is driven.
    • Paper delivered in Oporto (8 May 1990), quoted in Michael Forsyth, 'Constitutional Reform', in Lord Howard of Rising (ed.), Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell (2012), p. 68
  • [The House of Lords] is an integral part of Parliament simply because that is how Parliament evolved, and its powers, like those of the House of Commons, derive not from a theory but from precedent.
    • Paper delivered in Oporto (8 May 1990), quoted in Michael Forsyth, 'Constitutional Reform', in Lord Howard of Rising (ed.), Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell (2012), p. 72
  • 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), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 933
  • I [also] know that, on my deathbed, I shall still be believing with one part of my brain that somewhere on every ocean of the world there is a grey, grey ship with three funnels and sixteen-inch guns which can blow out of the water any other navy which is likely to face it. I know it is not so. Indeed, I realised at a relatively early age that it is not so. But that factor – that emotional factor... will not die until I, the carrier of it, am dead.
    • Speech to the Institute of Contemporary British History at the London School of Economics (July 1991), quoted in Robert Shepherd, Enoch Powell (1997), p. 9
  • 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, quoted in Naim Attallah, Asking Questions (1996), pp. 354-355
  • 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; ‘Britain's ethnically divided peoples’, 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
  • It's not impossible but it's difficult, for a non-white person to be British.
    • As quoted in Iain Macleod (Hutchinson, 1994), by Robert Shepherd, p. 366
  • 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 analytical faculty is underdeveloped in women.
    • "Odd Man Out", BBC TV profile by Michael Cockerell transmitted on 11 November 1995.

Collected Poems (1990)

  • In old age it is no longer possible to credit the sheer, almost physical agony which is caused in youth by the passage of time, when the turning of spring into summer arouses pain as lively as the pain of toothache. The succession of the seasons is like a recurrent inescapable catastrophe, which sweeps away what is young and beautiful, and what is beautiful because it is young.
    • p. vii
  • I hate the ugly, hate the old,
    I hate the lame and weak,
    But more than all I hate the dead
    That lie so still in their earthen bed
    And never dare to rise.
    • p. 5
  • Oh, sweet it is, where grass is deep
    And swifts are overhead,
    To lie and watch the clouds, and weep
    For friends already dead.
    • p. 31
  • Mother, with longing ever new
    And joy too great for telling,
    I turn again to rest in you
    My earliest dwelling.
    • p. 51
  • While yesteryear I tarried
    In a garden in the south,
    I met a youth who carried
    A rose-bud in his mouth.

    I gave him chase and caught him,
    And would not set him free,
    But held him and besought him
    To give the flower to me.

    He smiled, and broke a petal
    And laid it in my hand—
    It seared like molten metal,
    And here is yet the brand.

    • p. 69
  • Now I alone sit by the fire,
    And one remains of three;
    For two have got their heart's desire
    And left their grief to me.
    • p. 71
  • I did not speak, but when I saw you turn
    And cross your right leg on your left, and fold
    Your hands around your knee, I felt a flow
    Of white-hot lava seething up the old
    Volcano-shaft. That selfsame attitude,
    Though not of yours, it was which long ago
    Fired me, an innocent, unknowing boy,
    And led me on to sin and on to learn
    And onwards to the very fount of woe.
    • p. 95

Quotes about Powell

Alphabetised by surname.


  • Powell did strike me, however, as an extremely capable and intelligent Conservative politician. There was no fanatical gleam in his eyes, though I do remember feeling that his attitude to India was slightly strange. I could not place it at the time; it was neither jingoism nor simply nostalgia, but nor was it the scholarly interest of a historian or the detached reflections of a logician. Many years later when I was reading Paul Scott’s opus on the British in India, I suddenly remembered Powell. One of the major characters in Scott’s novels reminded me of him. It was Ronald Merrick, whose ambiguous class background in Britain ultimately exploded in colonial India. This was a reflection of something that ran very deep in many middle- and lower-middle-class Englishmen and women who had served as colonial administrators or officers in India.
    • Tariq Ali, Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties (2018)
  • I would say Mr. Powell, Enoch is fully supported by me on what he has said. He's not discriminating against any races, but he wanted the indigenous Londoners, their children, to have a brighter future. He does not want England to be colonised by Africa, by Asia. London for Londoners, Scotland for Scottish, Wales for Welsh and Uganda for Ugandans. Rhodesia for Zimbabwean people, not for the white minority regime, South Africa for the black majority. London can have any technical assistance, anybody that wanted to employ in London but not to dominate the people of England. Therefore I support him as a person which all Great British people should have to be their Prime Minister.
  • The supreme intellectual among the Tories was their supreme rebel: Enoch Powell. Powell was a true intellectual, more of an intellectual than any Labour politician: for he was a scholar. No other politician had the ability to translate the law book of a medieval Welsh king, edit Greek texts with a dryness that made Housman look gushing, master the intricacies of the medieval House of Lords, and reinterpret the New Testament... He was a formidable speaker, logical, precise, incandescent, as fluent as Benn but more ordered, more gifted in his use of metaphor and in the balance of his sentences... Our generation considered him the embodiment of all they feared... His curious classless voice, his staring eyes that might have been transplanted from Rasputin, his clear incisive sentences, made him a demonic figure for his contemporaries... Powell himself was content to await the verdict of history, certain that that verdict would prove him to be the most far-sighted man of his times.
    • Noel Annan, Our Age: The Generation That Made Post-War Britain (1991), pp. 552–554
  • [T]he Western world, which has always stood on very shaky foundations, is coalescing according to the principle under which it was organized, and that principle is white supremacy. From England to Sacramento, Ronald Reagan and Enoch Powell are the same person.
    • 1969 interview in Conversations with James Baldwin edited by Louis H. Pratt and Fred L. Standley (1989)
  • Looking back at the full text of Powell's speech, you will find it springs a number of surprises. Not least, Powell never used the phrase "Rivers of blood". He actually quoted a line from the sixth book of Virgil's Aeneid. "I see the river Tiber foaming with much blood" ("Et Thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno", line 86)... Uncharacteristically, Powell seems to have overlooked the way the quotation might contradict his own arguments. True, the Sibyl was referring to the bloodshed that would result from Aeneas' attempt to found his new city in Latin territory, integrating his own line into that of the native population. But that bloodshed would lead to a strong and proudly mixed community of Trojans and Latins. And Aeneas' Rome in due course would become the most successful multi-cultural society of the ancient world – granting full citizenship to the inhabitants of its imperial territories, and eventually seeing Spaniards, Africans and others on the Roman imperial throne... Powell should have thought a bit harder about the implications of his clever classical allusion.
  • I am glad I went [to Powell's funeral]. Enoch was somebody who believed what he said and said what he believed. He treated people with respect. He would talk to shopkeepers in Wolverhampton about the PSBR as if they were bankers and they listened because they knew they were being treated respectfully... [At the 1989 bicentenary of the French Revolution in Paris] the only comment Enoch made was that "the revolution proved once again the absurdity of trying to build a constitution based on the Rights of Man". The French looked at him as if Edmund Burke was still alive, which in a way he was.
    • Tony Benn, quoted in The Times (26 August 1998), p. 14
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mr Powell is the first Conservative politician since Stanley Baldwin who seems to have made a significant impact on the minds of the working classes.
    • 'C', 'The political significance of Mr Enoch Powell', The Times (12 June 1968), p. 11
  • Enoch Powell in his speech of April 1968 quoted the remarks of a constituent that the black man would have the whip hand over the white man in Britain within fifteen to twenty years. I note that there is not yet a single black Member of Parliament, that they are absent from the higher ranks of the law, the Civil Service, the police and the Armed Forces, and that the election of a black mayor is still regarded as newsworthy... Mr Powell's constituent will have to wait for many more years before coloured people reach the heights which so alarmed him, and by that time I trust that he will have discovered that we all share a common humanity.
  • 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.
  • The main Tory supporter on our side [during the 1975 EEC referendum] was Enoch Powell. It could have been politically embarrassing, but Enoch played it straight down the line, scrupulously keeping party politics out of it. He also revealed old-world courtesy. When, for instance, we found that a press conference we had arranged for him clashed with one I had been hoping to hold, he insisted on giving way to me, postponing his own. In fact, he showed more sense of solidarity than Tony Benn, who like so many politicians with exceptional talents did not like working in a team.
  • That man Powell is extraordinary. He is the best Greek scholar since Porson.
    • Martin Charlesworth's remark to a friend upon Powell's graduation from Trinity College, Cambridge (c. May 1933), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 21
  • Whatever one may wish to believe, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Mr. Powell's impact on the [1970] election was great, that he made a strong appeal to many of the 'ordinary people'...and that the two-year campaign he brought to an independent climax in the ten days before the election struck oil in places where Conservatives had not struck oil before.
    • Maurice Cowling, 'Mr. Powell, Mr. Heath, and the Future', in John Wood (ed.), Powell and the 1970 Election (1970), p. 11
  • His current doctrines are an intellectualized version of ideas which have been the common diet in most parts of the body of the Conservative party for the last 25 years, but they have been transformed in the course of exposition and given a wider range of relevance than they had before... They are in fact the expression of a feeling, which is to some extent present in all classes, that the language used by politicians is not the language the body of the people understands and that the distance between politicians and the public is great and growing. Above all they confirm the impression that anyone who speaks a language the public wants to hear will attract the hysterical censure Mr. Powell has attracted from the self-appointed leaders of the 'thinking classes', i.e. the 'great big world of Fleet Street, Whitehall, St. James's Street', etc. ... Nothing done by Mr. Powell has been more important than his demonstration that they can be rejected by a highly articulate thinking politician who attracts hysterical censure precisely because he rubs in the unpalatable truth that a rhetoric maybe offensive to these parts of the 'thinking classes' and yet reflect opinions that are widely shared, deeply held and common to all classes in this country... What Mr. Powell has done is to change the climate of opinion. This is a matter of great importance. Over the last thirty years a morally conservative, hard headed and patriotic electorate has been persuaded to defer to an eccentric element amongst the progressive intelligentsia.
    • Maurice Cowling, 'Mr. Powell, Mr. Heath, and the Future', in John Wood (ed.), Powell and the 1970 Election (1970), pp. 13-15
  • Mr. Powell is an economic Whig but a political Tory.
  • “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.
    • Richard Crossman, 'Power to the people, via Enoch Powell', The Times (13 June 1973), p. 16
  • I do wish that instead [of talking about the EEC] you would concentrate on making speeches on immigration, because that is so vitally important and you are so right about it.
    • Alec Douglas-Home to Powell (early 1971), quoted in Enoch Powell, ‘No answers blowing in the wind’, The Spectator (9 October 1976), p. 11
  • 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.
    • Anthony Eden to Andrew Freeth after the Suez Crisis, quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), pp. 122-123
  • He simply believes in Order and Authority and is always prepared to offer a half-brilliant, half-mad, intellectual defence of them.
    • Henry Fairlie, 'Political Commentary', The Spectator (26 August 1955), p. 5
  • I would never say that Powell was racist in any way at all. Had we listened to him, we would have much better race relations now than we have got.
  • In Britain, a herald of the twenty-first- century hard right, made himself heard. Enoch Powell set himself and his career against the state-friendly centrism and multilateralism that attracted Toryism in the 1950s and 1960s. A powerful, unyielding mind, Powell was an early framer of a popular counter-faith in the unstable dual monarchy of the free market and nation that before long captured the right across Europe and the United States.
    • Edmund Fawcett, Conservatism (2020), pp. 297-298
  • If one thinker is to be credited with starting the long rightward shift in British conservatism from the 1980s onward, it is Enoch Powell (1912–1998). In a period of centrist compromise, Powell heralded Thatcherism, but he also did more. In elevating the market, Thatcherism, if not Thatcher herself, was at root global and multilateral. Powell revered the global market but wanted to return politics to the nation. At once economically globalist and geopolitically unilateralist, Powell was the herald of British conservatism’s turn against Europe. When sacked in 1968 from the shadow cabinet for an inflammatory speech on immigration, a shrewd Tory editorialist who sensed Powell’s appeal wrote that containing Powellism would occupy his party for the next decade. The editorialist was off by a factor of five. Containing Powellism would occupy the party for the next half century and, in the 2010s, it would finally fail.
    • Edmund Fawcett, Conservatism (2020), pp. 297-298
  • 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 to Powell on his speech against Scottish devolution (19 January 1976), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), 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.
  • Everyone who wrote about him was certain of one thing: Enoch Powell was not a racist. He "said things we didn't agree with" (Tony Blair). He was "an extreme nationalist, but not a racialist" (Denis Healey). He inspired racialists "but was not a racialist himself" (Tony Benn). The Tory papers which revered him and called for parliament to be prorogued in his memory would not contemplate the possibility that he was a racialist. The unanimity was complete. Which is all very odd because the most important thing by far about Enoch Powell was that he was a racist pig of the most despicable variety.
  • I have met, talked with, and participated in meetings with Enoch Powell on a number of different occasions. He has a better and deeper understanding of economic principles, and a clearer conception of the relation between economic and personal freedom, than any other major political figure I have ever met. And even this is to put it mildly. Broaden the field as widely as you want, and I have met few men who have as sophisticated an intelligence on these matters as Powell.
    • Milton Friedman to William Buckley (2 December 1970), quoted in Ben Jackson, 'The Think-Tank Archipelago: Thatcherism and Neoliberalism', in Hagen Schulz-Forberg and Niklas Olsen (eds.), Re-Inventing Western Civilisation: Transnational Reconstructions of Liberalism in Europe in the Twentieth Century (2014), p. 209
  • When I came to England in the late 60s, Sergeant Pepper was ruling the land, de Gaulle was the Great Satan and it was only months before Enoch Powell made his classical allusion to the Tiber. It is right that his speech that night has become a myth of a dark moment in contemporary British culture. His mean and ugly prophecies of bloodshed - rivers frothing with blood, no less - was not simply a mad outburst. It did not come from nowhere...It was no surprise, in the end, that Powell should pluck that evil image from his knowledge of the ancient Mediterranean world to portray the panic that had gripped the country. He was not speaking for himself alone, but he spoke too strongly, abandoning post-imperial euphemisms about non-European foreigners. His eyes flashed with prophetic conviction and suddenly, so it seemed to Ted Heath, the lunacy had gone too far. He sacked him from the shadow cabinet
  • All our hopes for England rest now on Enoch Powell.
    • Friedrich Hayek, recorded in Ralph Harris to Powell (8 January 1965), quoted in Paul Corthorn, Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain (2019), p. 58
  • 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.
  • Enoch Powell was unique in the absolutism of the intellectual and moral propositions on which he based his arguments. When he was Professor of Greek at Sydney his colleagues used to call him “the textual pervert”. He built glass towers of dazzling logical integrity, whose foundations in the real world became more and more precarious as they rose higher and higher. In politics as in life, a logical conclusion is usually a reductio ad absurdum.
  • If Enoch Powell had stood for leadership of the Conservative party he would have won "by a landslide" and if he had stood to be Prime Minister he would have won by a "national landslide".
    • Michael Heseltine's remark about the aftermath of the Rivers of a Blood speech, quoted in Douglas Murray, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, p. 15
  • I never came close to understanding Enoch Powell. He was the only adversary in the House of Commons who ever seriously worried me. Others were nimble and could disconcert me for a moment, but Powell, by his appearance, voice and choice of words, radiated an authority which I had no immediate resources to match. We were almost neighbours in South Eaton Place, and he was invariably courteous to my wife. But I never had a friendly conversation with him, and never understood the admiration verging on worship which he inspired in intelligent commentators. I saw at first hand the harm done in turn by his negative eloquence on immigration in 1968, on Ireland in 1984/5 and throughout on Europe. It was a tragedy that such patriotic fervour, deep learning and forceful talent should have been dedicated to detecting non-existent conspiracies and upholding different causes of the sour right.
  • It's a dependable party game: who was the MP who...emerged as a strong and early opponent of hanging and supported homosexual law reform; was fiercely anti-Nato, anti-American and opposed to Britain possessing nuclear weapons; pioneered the Clean Air Act ... became a vehement critic of Empire and hugely embarrassed a Tory government by a passionate condemnation of British treatment of Africans confined in the Hola Camp in Kenya? (The MP in question was so infuriated by the racist excuse that different standards applied in Africa that he/she actually cried with vexation at the end of the speech.) As Minister of Health the same politician earned an extremely progressive reputation by attacking the mental hospitals as oppressive Victorian institutions which ought to be closed to allow more humane care within the community... This MP was...the first in any party to argue for a minimum income for the old and the unemployed, argued for the nationalisation of the universities and completely free education for all students, and refused...the offer of a life peerage... Most people...would volunteer all sorts of left-wing Labour MPs: not one in a hundred would have guessed that the right answer was Enoch Powell.
    • R. W. Johnson, ‘Stick to the Latin’, London Review of Books, Vol. 19, No. 2 (23 January 1997), pp. 8-9
  • In the mid-Seventies he came to Oxford to give a talk about devolution... [A] large audience, perhaps half black and brown, came to heckle and boo their bogeyman. They were very quickly silenced as Powell wove his spell, proving that devolution was a nonsense, but adding that decolonisation had surely taught us that morally we couldn't refuse a vote for independence from a people that wanted it... Finally, someone suggested he couldn't mean it: what if Oxford voted for independence? Would he grant that? He replied that you could reduce any argument to absurdity with an absurd example but yes, if the people wanted it, how could one refuse? And then added, cuttingly, but why talk such nonsense about Oxford? Why not use real examples: what if Bradford, Brixton or Southall, which are really different, vote for independence? The words were spat out with real venom, eyes flashing. Immigration had not previously been mentioned: in the audience heads lurched back, as if a collective slap in the face had been administered. At the end everyone filed out in silence, as if physically beaten. Over dinner, I asked him why he had done it: he had come close to getting a standing ovation and then he had deliberately thrown it all away. “Oh yes,” he said, “I could see I had won them over, so I thought, if you want to accept me, it's got to be the whole package, not just my views on devolution. So I showed them the cloven hoof. I don’t want any easy victories.”
    • R. W. Johnson, ‘Stick to the Latin’, London Review of Books, Vol. 19, No. 2 (23 January 1997), pp. 8-9


  • On a robust set of assumptions, Powell was responsible for the victory of the Conservatives in 1970 and of Labour in February 1974.
    • Iain McLean, Rational Choice and British Politics (2001), p. 142
  • Enoch Powell has the finest mind in the House of Commons. The best trained, and the most exciting... Powellism is not wholly or even a mainly a right-wing creed: by those rather absurd touchstones that 'progressives' delight to use—abolition of corporal and capital punishment, implementation of the Wolfenden Report, the humanising of penal and mental health reform—Powell is a progressive. Typically, Powell declines to be typed. He does not fit into any political slot. He is just Enoch Powell... I am a fellow-traveller, but sometimes I leave Powell's train a few stations down the line, before it reaches, and sometimes crashes into, the terminal buffers. I am certainly less logical in my political approach, but I would argue that Powell suffers sometimes from an excess of logic.
    • Iain Macleod, 'Enoch Powell', The Spectator (16 July 1965), p. 7
  • Poor Enoch! Driven mad by the remorselessness of his own logic!
    • Iain Macleod, quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 569
  • Powell looks at me in Cabinet like Savonarola eyeing one of the more disreputable popes.
    • Harold Macmillan, quoted in Enoch Powell, ‘Savonarola looks back’, The Spectator (3 April 1982), p. 17
  • 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.
  • The essence of representative democracy, Powell argued, is majority rule. No matter how consociational arrangements, there will always be some party or interest that is left out of the ruling coalition. So what is it that persuades the minority to put up with rule by the majority? Lincoln had suggested that it was the opportunity to change the government by swinging public opinion behind the opposition. But why should they be prepared to wait, particularly if the odds on success are long and there is a better chance of influencing events by taking the law into their own hands? Powell's answer was that the minority will only put up with majority rule, if there is some overarching community sentiment which is stronger than the conflicts of ideological, economic or political interest that customarily divide people on a daily basis.
    • James Mayall, World Politics: Progress and Its Limits (2000), pp. 64-65
  • We badly need another Enoch Powell to articulate the role of the nation state in the twenty-first century, but until such a paragon appears, we can return to the canon of his writings and speeches to remind us why the nation state still does and should matter... As well as Disraeli, but very few Tory thinkers since, Enoch Powell himself had a mission "to teach the English their nationhood", as well as a genius for defining it.
    • Andrew Roberts, 'Enoch Powell and the Nation State', in Lord Howard of Rising (ed.), Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell (2012), p. 142
  • Powell's impact has not just been limited to public opinion polls. The ButlerStokes data from 1970 and 1974 clearly demonstrated that Powell played a decisive role in winning the 1970 election for the Tories and came back to make an important contribution to the Labour victory in February 1974. He has been able to mobilise his supporters in opposite directions at two different elections four years apart without the benefit of a political organisation or a strong base in the leadership of either political party; influence of this sort is probably unprecedented in British political history... His ability to fill a hall was unrivalled in British politics between 1968 and 1974.
  • It was in his invocations of this thinking, feeling collective that Powell made his distinctive contribution to British politics... [T]hrough his language he placed this thing as squarely before the consciousness of his listeners as Shakespeare had done in his history plays, and invited them to recognise that he was talking not about an abstraction, but about their own destiny, which is but the microcosm of the larger destiny on which they depended.
    • Roger Scruton, 'The Language of Enoch Powell', in Lord Howard of Rising (ed.), Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell (2012), pp. 118-119
  • Often Powell's audiences felt that he was speaking liturgically, when he touched on the subject of England. And they were right. In elucidating the idea of sovereignty, Powell invokes "the Crown in council, the Crown in Parliament and the Crown in judgement", blessing the existing institutions with names that repeat their magic without explaining it. When, in his famous St George's Day speech, he allows himself the use of purple prose...it is in order to emphasise the mystery of England. The "real presence" in the heart of politics of that inexplicable thing called the Crown, the very thing over which Shakespeare puzzled in his history plays.
    • Roger Scruton, 'The Language of Enoch Powell', in Lord Howard of Rising (ed.), Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell (2012), p. 120
  • Powell establishes without argument, but by direct invocation of the central mysteries of his political faith, that our joining the European Community (as it then was) had created a crisis of legitimacy. If legitimacy lies concealed within institutions, and summarised not by reasons but by the power of their sacred names, then fundamental changes to those institutions can never be legitimate. To put it another way: to describe political processes in sacramental language is to rule out all changes which are not adjustments... Powell...was right...that this transformation amounted to a disenchantment with England, and a loss of those magical formulae on which our pride, allegiance and law-abidingness had hitherto depended. To the demoralised nation that we have become, Powell's language seems fraught and quaint. But we look around ourselves in vain for the alternative, recognising that no politician today has the ability to renew through his words the enchantment that has for centuries attached us to our country, and made it so natural to us to make the sacrifices required for its survival.
    • Roger Scruton, 'The Language of Enoch Powell', in Lord Howard of Rising (ed.), Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell (2012), pp. 121-122
  • Of all my pupils he always insisted on the highest standards of accuracy and knowledge in those who taught him. Woe betide the careless young master, as I was, who was guilty of a rash statement because, from the back bench of the Upper Sixth would come a voice, “But, sir”, followed by a long quotation from an author. He was a pupil from whom I learnt more than most.
    • Duggie Smith (Powell's teacher at King Edward's School), writing in 1952, quoted in Robert Shepherd, Enoch Powell (1997), p. 11
  • Cyril Chantler, one of Britain's wisest doctors, likes to give people a photocopy of Enoch Powell's book on medicine and politics and tell them that it's the best thing ever written on the NHS. Younger readers may not have heard of Enoch Powell, but he was a Tory minister of health in the early 1960s. He is most famous for his racist "rivers of blood speech," and I can remember protesting outside his Belgravia home. Could he really have written the best book on the NHS? I think that Cyril is right. One of Powell's strengths is that he was a distinguished classicist and writes beautifully, with directness, clarity, and wit: it's like reading Tacitus on the NHS. Another strength is his inability to dissimulate; the source of his catastrophic speech, his weakness as a politician, and his most famous observation that "all political careers end in failure."
    • Richard Smith, 'Medical Classics', BMJ: British Medical Journal, Vol. 340, No. 7759 (12 June 2010), p. 1309. A review of Powell's A New Look at Medicine and Politics (1966)
  • I knew Powell at Cambridge when he was a young classical scholar. His IQ is enormously high.
    • C. P. Snow, quoted in Andrew Roth, Enoch Powell: Tory Tribune (1970), p. 27
  • Roy's parliamentary successes were often based on reflections as much as rhetoric. I remember one speech when Enoch Powell interrupted him with what appeared to be a telling point. Roy paused and thought and looked at the ceiling. He delayed his reply so long that there was an uncomfortable feeling among his supporters that for once he had been put off his stride. Then he said: “The Right Honourable Gentleman's logic, as always, is impeccable. But since he always starts from false premises, he is bound to come to the wrong conclusion.” In an off-the-cuff remark he had summed up Enoch Powell's whole career.
    • Dick Taverne, 'Chancellor of the Exchequer', in Andrew Adonis and Keith Thomas (eds.), Roy Jenkins: A Retrospective (2004), pp. 96–97
  • 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.
  • I have always read Enoch Powell's speeches and articles very carefully. He was not helpful over things like the Anglo-Irish Agreement. I think he has been absolutely right about the economy – inflation is a monetary phenomenon. I always think it was a tragedy that he left. He is a very, very able politician. I say that even though he has sometimes said vitriolic things against me.
    • Margaret Thatcher, interview with The Daily Telegraph (12 January 1990), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 928
  • His intellect was second to none... Enoch got us on to the right argument about inflation.
    • Margaret Thatcher, quoted in Charles Moore, Margaret Thatcher. The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning (2013), p. 194
  • Enoch was right. He had made the two intellectual leaps in economic policy which Keith Joseph and I would only make some years later. First, he had grasped that it was not the unions which caused inflation by pushing up wages, but rather the Government which did so by increasing the supply of money in the economy. Consequently, incomes policies...were a supreme irrelevance to anti-inflation policy. The only aspect of the matter which Enoch then and later failed sufficiently to grasp was the importance of the indirect link between trade union power and inflation. This lay in the fact that over-powerful trade unions priced their own members out of jobs, and inflicted unemployment on both union and non-union workers alike. Governments...would then react by lowering interest rates and expanding the money supply. This would increase demand and jobs for a time, but it also increased inflation... That said, Enoch's insight into the cause of inflation was of supreme importance.
  • Undoubtedly, Enoch was our finest intellect – classicist, historian, economist and biblical scholar... [H]e was a powerful public orator and able to command the House of Commons, or indeed any audience, with his remorseless logic and controlled passion. But as regards the Shadow Cabinet, by this stage he had largely withdrawn into himself. He was disliked and probably feared by Ted Heath... On Sunday 21 April 1968...I woke up to find the front pages of the newspapers dominated by reports of a speech Enoch Powell had made in Birmingham on immigration the previous afternoon. It was strong meat, and there were some lines which had a sinister ring about them. But I strongly sympathised with the gravamen of his argument about the scale of New Commonwealth immigration into Britain. I too thought this threatened not just public order but also the way of life of some communities... I was also quite convinced that, however selective quotations from his speech may have sounded, Enoch was no racist.
Enoch was the best parliamentarian I ever knew. ~ Margaret Thatcher
  • Enoch was the best parliamentarian I ever knew. Everything in Enoch's speeches had to be worked out in reason from first principles.
    • Margaret Thatcher, in "Odd Man Out: a Portrait of Enoch Powell", BBC Two England (11 November 1995)
  • 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.
  • On the matter of his [Powell's] objections to the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement I now believe that his assessment was right, though I wish...he had been less inclined to impugn the motives of those who disagreed with him.
    • Margaret Thatcher, review of Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell in The Daily Telegraph (23 November 1998), quoted in Charles Moore, Margaret Thatcher. The Authorized Biography, Volume Two: Everything She Wants (2015), p. 340
  • He talks so fascinatingly on history, architecture and many subjects that politics seldom came up, but I should be disappointed if on any subject he did not produce some interestingly heterodox views.
  • Among the various textual notes that appear in academic journals, I still find much to commend in the articles by J. Enoch Powell in the Classical Quarterly for 1935 and 1938. His suggestions and conjectures are also implicit in his absolutely indispensable Lexicon to Herodotus.
  • On the issue raised by Mr Powell [the EEC] hinges the question whether the British are to retain power to decide their own destiny. In other words, are we to be independent? ... On that issue, put that way, I stand four-square in line with Mr Powell and I hope he is not embarrassed. He is moving to the position which the late General de Gaulle took up at the time of the collapse of France in the last war.
    • The Labour peer George Wigg (15 June 1973), quoted in The Times (16 June 1973), p. 2
  • On 20 April 1968 Enoch Powell delivered his notorious 'rivers of blood' speech about the perils of allowing Commonwealth immigrants into the United Kingdom. Kenneth was furious. Powell, Kenneth observed to me, had been assiduous in recruiting men and women from the West Indies to staff the National Health Service. It could not have worked without them.
  • He abhors the label right and calls himself a Tory radical. For him the essence of Powellism is its frankly Gaullist emphasis on national independence and its marking out of political ground in which a realistic patriotism can flourish again. But paradoxically it is not rightist in the old-style Tory sense. Mr. Powell, unlike the true Tory right, calls for a withdrawal from Empire not even into Europe but into Britain... Mr. Powell is seen by his lieutenants as the latter-day Joe Chamberlain in the Tory Party, the boy from "Brum" who, though he is unlikely ever to lead his party, will change its orientation and nature by driving it into a Gaullist radicalism rather than on to the right.
    • David Wood, 'Profile of Tory right and Powellism', The Times (15 July 1968), p. 8
  • Powellism is now part of the English intellectual and moral tradition; part of the nation's mythology. The man, too, is a legend in his lifetime. So in a sense his work is done. For whatever eventually happens to him his ideas have now entered the bloodstream of the British body politic, guaranteeing them a kind of immortality. Of no other living British statesman could the same be said.
    • Peregrine Worsthorne, The Sunday Telegraph (10 June 1979), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 823
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: