Enoch Powell

British politician (1912-1998)

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

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), from The Times (6 January 1936), p. 8
  • The world has recently been treated for nearly a decade to the unusual spectacle of a great empire deliberately taking every possible step to secure its own destruction, because its citizens were so obsessed by prejudice, or incapable of thinking for themselves, as never to perform the few logical steps necessary for proving that they would shortly be involved in a guerre à outrance, which could be neither averted nor escaped.
    • Powell's inaugural lecture as Professor of Greek (7 May 1938), from Greek in the University. An Inaugural Lecture (Oxford University Press, 1938), p. 9
  • I do here in the most solemn and bitter manner curse the Prime Minister of England [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, from 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), from 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), from 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), from 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), from 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 (1 March 1953) against the Royal Titles Bill
  • 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 (5 November 1953) on the British evacuation of the Suez Canal.
  • 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
  • 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
  • ....the 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
  • 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.
    • Speech in Bromsgrove (6 July 1963), quoted in A Nation Not Afraid. The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 25
  • 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
  • It is no accident that the Labour Party of 1964 should share this craving for autarchy, for economic self-sufficiency, with the pre-war Fascist régimes and the present-day Communist states. They are all at heart totalitarian.
    • Speech to the Dulwich Conservative Association (29 February 1964), from A Nation Not Afraid. The Thinking of Enoch Powell (1965), p. 75
  • 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 the end, the Labour party could cease to represent labour. Stranger historic ironies have happened than that.
    • Article for The Sunday Telegraph, citing the swing to the Conservatives in his constituency and others with large working-class electorates (18 October 1964), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 364
  • 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
  • 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); from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 430
  • 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), from 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), from 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.
  • ...it depends indeed on whether the immigrants are different, and different in important respects from the existing population. Clearly, if they are identical, then no change for the good or bad can be brought about by the immigration. But if they are different, and to the extent that they are different, then numbers clearly are of the essence and this is not wholly – or mainly, necessarily – a matter of colour. For example, if the immigrants were Germans or Russians, their colour would be approximately the same as ours, but the problems which would be created and the change which could be brought about by a large introduction of a bloc of Germans or Russians into five areas in this country would be as serious – and in some respects more serious – than could follow from an introduction of a similar number of West Indians or Pakistanis.
    • Any Questions?, BBC Radio (29 November 1968), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (London: Bellew, 1991), p. 395
  • Enoch Powell: Now, we were invaded by the Danes, they did alter the country and we fought them for two hundred years. If that's what is meant – to be allowed to happen?
    Marghanita Laski: Were we wise to do so? Didn't they add to us in the end? Wasn't there much more suffering and misery because we fought them?
    Enoch Powell: Only because we fought them, and eventually subjugated them and Christianised them. (applause)
    • Any Questions?, BBC Radio (29 November 1968), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (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), from 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: ...what I still want to know from you, really, is why the presence of a coloured immigrant group is objectionable, when the presence of a non-coloured immigrant is not objectionable.
    Enoch Powell: Oh no, oh no! On the contrary, I have often said that if we saw the prospect of five million Germans in this country at the end of the century, the risks of disruption and violence would probably be greater, and the antagonism which would be aroused would be more severe. The reason why the whole debate in this country on immigration is related to coloured immigration, is because there has been no net immigration of white Commonwealth citizens, and there could be no migration of aliens. This is merely an automatic consequence of the facts of the case; it is not because there is anything different, because there is anything necessarily more dangerous, about the alienness of a community from Asia, than about the alienness of a community from Turkey or from Germany, that we discuss this inevitably in terms of colour. It is because it is that problem.
    • The Great Debate, BBC TV (9 September 1969), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (1991), pp. 399-400
  • Compassion is something individual and voluntary. You cannot compel somebody to be compassionate; nor can you be vicariously compassionate by compelling somebody else. The Good Samaritan would have lost all merit if a Roman soldier were standing by the road with a drawn sword, telling him to get on with it and look after the injured stranger. Because there can be no such thing as compulsory compassion or vicarious compassion, therefore it is a humbugging abuse of language, intended to deceive, to talk about a 'compassionate Government' or a 'compassionate party'—or even a 'compassionate society', unless one simply means by that a society which happens to contain a lot of compassionate individuals. Nor let anyone protest: 'Oh, but when I vote for a party which will "make provision on an unprecedented scale for those in need of help", it means I too shall have to pay my whack and so I am being compassionate after all'. Nonsense! The purpose of your vote is not to make yourself subscribe—that you can freely do at any time—but to compel others.
    • Speech to the Harborough Division Conservative Association Gala, Leicester (27 September 1969), from Still to Decide (1972), pp. 22-23


  • 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.
    • Reacting to Tony Benn's speech that "the flag hoisted at Wolverhampton [Powell's constituency] is beginning to look like the one that fluttered over Dachau and Belsen" (3 June 1970), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (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.
    • Reacting to a youth who had given the Hitler salute; from a speech in Wolverhampton (6 June 1970), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (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), from 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), from 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
  • ...we 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), from 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), from 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), from 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), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (1991), pp. 487-488
  • ...when the empire dissolved...the people of Britain suffered from a kind of vertigo: they could not believe that they were standing upright, and reached out for something to clutch. It seemed axiomatic that economically, as well as politically, they must be part of something bigger, though the deduction was as unfounded as the premise. So some cried: 'Revive the Commonwealth'. And others cried: 'Let's go in with America into a North Atlantic Free Trade Area'. Yet others again cried: 'We have to go into Europe: there's no real alternative'. In a sense they were right: there is no alternative grouping. In a more important sense they were wrong: there is no need for joining anything. A Britain which is ready to exchange goods, services and capital as freely as it can with the rest of the world is neither isolated nor isolationist. It is not, in the sneering phrases of Chamberlain's day, 'Little England'...The Community is not a free trade area, which is what Britain, with a correct instinct, tried vainly to convert it into, or combine it into, in 1957-60. For long afterwards indeed many Britons continued to cherish the delusion that it really was a glorified free trade area and would turn out to be nothing more. On the contrary the Community is, what its name declares, a prospective economic unit. But an economic unit is not defined by economics – there are no natural economic units – it is defined by politics. What we call an economic unit is really a political unit viewed in its economic aspect: the unit is political.
    • Speech in Frankfurt (29 March 1971), from The Common Market: The Case Against (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), from 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
  • 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), from 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), from Still to Decide (1972), p. 209
  • 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), from 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.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (17 February 1972) on the Second Reading of the European Communities Bill
  • 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 (17 February 1972) on the Second Reading of the European Communities Bill
  • Make no mistake, the real power resides not where present authority is exercised but where it is expected that authority will in future be exercised. The magnetic attraction of power is exercised by the prospect long before the reality is achieved; and the trek towards the rising sun, which is already in progress in 1972, would swell to an exodus before long. What do you imagine is the reason why Roy Jenkins is prepared to resign the front bench and divide his party in the endeavour to give a Conservative Prime Minister a majority in the House of Commons? The motive is not ignoble or discreditable—I am not asserting that—but it is a motive which it behoves people in Britain well to understand. It is the ambition to exercise his talents on the stage of Europe and to participate in taking decisions not for Britain here at home but for Europe in Brussels, Paris, Luxembourg or wherever else the imperial pavilions may be pitched. He does not, I assure you, forsee his future triumphs and achievements where his predecessors have seen them in the past – at the despatch box in the House of Commons or in the Cabinet room at Downing St. These are not good enough: the vision splendid beckons elsewhere.
    • Speech at Millom, Cumberland (29 April 1972), from A Nation or No Nation? Six Years in British Politics (1977), p. 42. Jenkins had resigned from the Shadow Cabinet and as deputy leader of the Labour Party due to Labour's opposition to British entry into the EEC. Jenkins wrote to Powell to claim what he said was "totally untrue". Four years later Jenkins would leave front line British politics to become President of the European Commission.
  • The House of Commons is at this moment being asked to agree to the renunciation of its own independence and supreme authority—but not the House of Commons by itself. The House of Commons is the personification of the people of Britain: its independence is synonymous with their independence; its supremacy is synonymous with their self-government and freedom. Through the centuries Britain has created the House of Commons and the House of Commons has moulded Britain, until the history of the one and the life of the one cannot be separated from the history and life of the other. In no other nation in the world is there any comparable relationship. Let no one therefore allow himself to suppose that the life-and-death decision of the House of Commons is some private affair of some privileged institution which at intervals swims into his ken and out of it again. It is the life-and-death decision of Britain itself, as a free, independent and self-governing nation. For weeks, for months the battle on the floor of the House of Commons will swing backwards and forwards, through interminable hours of debates and procedures and votes in the division lobbies; and sure enough the enemies and despisers of the House of Commons will represent it all as some esoteric game or charade which means nothing for the outside world. Do not be deceived. With other weapons and in other ways the contention is as surely about the future of Britain's nationhood as were the combats which raged in the skies over southern England in the autumn of 1940. The gladiators are few; their weapons are but words; and yet the fight is everyman's.
    • Speech at Newton, Montgomeryshire (4 March 1972), from The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (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
  • ...the power to control the supply of money, which is one of the fundamental aspects of sovereignty, has passed from government into other hands; and therefore new institutions must be set up which will in effect exercise some of the major functions of government. They would set the level of public expenditure, and settle fiscal policy, the exercise of taxing and borrowing powers of the state, since these are indisputedly the mechanism by which the money supply is determined. But they would do more than this. They would be supreme over the economic ends and the social structure of society: for by fixing prices and incomes they would have to replace the entire automatic system of the market and supply and demand—be that good or evil—and put in its place a series of value judgments, economic or social, which they themselves would have to make...There is a specific term for this sort of polity. It is, of course, totalitarian, because it must deliberately and consciously determine the totality of the actions and activities of the members of the community; but it is a particular kind of totalitarian regime, one, namely, in which authority is exercised and the decisions are taken by a hierarchy of unions or corporations—to which, indeed, on this theory the effective power has already passed. For this particular kind of totalitarianism the Twentieth Century has a name. That name is "fascist".
    • Speech in Leamington (18 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?
    • Question to the Prime Minister Edward Heath in the House of Commons (6 November 1972)
  • 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
  • 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 Saltaire, Yorkshire (25 February 1974), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 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 Saltaire, 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
  • 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), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (1989), p. 144
  • I do not believe that the loyalty of those many who over those 270 years, and particularly in this century, worked together and died together as part of the union under the Crown, was to the Crown quite simply, even though they wore the Crown on their uniforms and many of them wore it on their hearts. They were not the mercenaries of a Habsburg empire bound together by personal union and dynastic marriages; they were not the servants of a Hohenzollern empire imposed by military force. It was the Crown of the United Kingdom in parliament which was the centre of loyalty, as it is the essential unifying element of this realm, in the name of which and under the inspiration of which men and women these 270 years have worked and lived and died together.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (19 January 1976) against devolution to Scotland.
  • 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 homogenous into a community which is no longer homogenous 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’.
    • 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), from 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) on the consequences of immigration.
  • 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)
  • Those who catch faint glimpses, in Birmingham or Notting Hill, of what others have dreaded for years, those who find themselves strangers and aliens in one familiar area after another of an English town or city, those who hear from others' lips with diminishing incredulity the circumstances in which less fortunate fellow-citizens live, should repeat to themselves over and over again one single sentence, sad, simple and true: "You have seen nothing yet". Then let them give to those who presume to represent and govern them no peace and no respite until they have led the nation from under the shadow of the disaster which overhangs it.
    • Speech to the Surrey Branch of the Monday Club in Croydon (4 October 1976), from A Nation or No Nation? Six Years in British Politics (1977), p. 174
  • 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.
    • Sermon to the St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London (18 January 1977), quoted in Wrestling with the Angel (1977), p. 5
  • 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, 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), from 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), from 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), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (1998), p. 800
  • I am one of what must be an increasing number who find the portentous moralisings of A. Solzhenitsyn a bore and an irritation. Scarcely any aspect of life in the countries where he passes his voluntary exile has failed to incur his pessimistic censure. Coming from Russia, where freedom of the press has been not so much unknown as uncomprehended since long before the Revolution, he is shocked to discover that a free press disseminated all kinds of false, partial and invented information and that journalists contradict themselves from one day to the next without shame and without apology. Only a Russian would find all that surprising, or fail to understand that freedom which is not misused is not freedom at all.

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

    Just so. Whatever may 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), from 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), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (L1991), 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)
  • 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 had 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
  • 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? ... it 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.
  • I soon came to know in the weary debates and the 104 divisions against the European Communities Bill who it was with whom I shared feelings of anger, outrage and hatred at what was being perpetrated. I am aware that the "Left" is supposed to be motivated only by the desire to be unimpeded by "Europe" in converting Britain into a socialist state; but I am compelled to depose that the instincts and reasoning of the "Left" opponents of membership...were exactly as nationalistic, not to say patriotic, as my own...[I part company with Labour only] because of my blind, high Tory ultimate faith in the people. If they are the people I thought and still want to think that they are, those who represent them will assuredly be pulled back in time from the betrayal of their birthright of parliamentary freedom either to a European state or to a Marxist bureaucracy.
    • The Daily Telegraph (14 September 1980), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (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), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (1989), p. 59, p. 61.
  • ...allegiance 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
  • ...those 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), from 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), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (1989), p. 127
  • We were dragged into folly by the Americans over Iran. We were dragged into folly by the Americans over Afghanistan. Neither national interest nor moral obligation requires us to be dragged by them into folly over Poland.
    • The Times (8 January 1982), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (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), from 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), from 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 (3 April 1982) after the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands
  • 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
  • I refer to the misunderstanding of Soviet Russia as an aggressive power, militaristically and ideologically bent upon world domination—'seeing', to quote a recent speech of the British Prime Minister, 'the rest of the world as its rightful fiefdom.' How any rational person, viewing objectively the history of the last thirty-five years, could entertain this 'international misunderstanding' challenges, if it does not defeat, comprehension. The notion has no basis in fact... If Russia is bent on world conquest, she has been remarkably slothful and remarkably unsuccessful.
    • Speech at Torquay (7 October 1983), from George R. Urban, Diplomacy and Disillusion at the Court of Margaret Thatcher. An Insider's View (1996), p. 60
  • I don't think that would be entirely unfair. There are some things which get on one's nerves and some things that don't. And I'm, to use a rather journalistic word, allergic to the things that are typically American. I think that's fairly natural to someone who has just been described as a Tory and is always ready to describe himself as a High Tory.
    • When asked if he was 'anti-American' (Face the Press, Channel 4 TV, 9 October, 1983), from Reflections of a Statesman. The Writings and Speeches of Enoch Powell (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.
  • 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; from 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 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), from 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 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
  • 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
  • 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.

The 'Rivers of Blood' speechEdit

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

  • 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.

Collected Poems (1990)Edit

  • 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 PowellEdit

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.
    • Ali, Tariq - 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
  • 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.
    • The Labour MP 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 reduction 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • For those who saw and heard Enoch Powell, the memory is indelible – the black moustache, the burning eyes, the hypnotic, metallic voice, the precision of language, the agility in debate. These will be largely lost to future generations. But, in a more important respect, Powell will survive more surely than any other British politician of the 20th century except Winston Churchill. His speeches and writings will be read so long as there exists a political and parliamentary culture in which speaking and writing matter. And if there comes a time when such a culture is all but destroyed, those brave few who wish to restore it will find in the thoughts of Enoch Powell something approaching their Bible.
    • The Daily Telegraph (9 February 1998)

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