Enoch Was Wrong: the attempted rehabilitation of a racist


On Saturday morning, in an item on Radio 4’s Today programme to mark the centenary of Enoch Powell’s birth, presenter Justin Webb asked Daily Mail writer Simon Heffer, “Was Enoch Powell racist?” Heffer paused for a moment while he pretended to weigh the question up and then replied, inevitably, “No, not at all.”

We live in a time where nobody will admit to being racist, even people who say and write the kind of things that a racist might well say or write. In 2012, if a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan were caught mid-cross-burning, he would swiftly explain that of course he isn’t racist and he has a black friend and he was just drunk and he’s very sorry for any offence caused and obviously racism is a terrible thing. But surely the man famous for the most notorious speech in the history of British race relations can still safely be described as racist?

Apparently not. Heffer, who published a mammoth biography of Powell in 1998, maintained on Today that Powell’s 1968 “rivers of blood” speech wasn’t about race at all, but immigration, as if the two could be cleanly separated. I would like to have seen Heffer explain to one of the black families persecuted after Powell’s speech that the issue wasn’t the colour of their skin — oh dearie me, no — but their presence in Britain. I’m sure the distinction would have cheered them up as they scrubbed the graffiti from their front door. (Inconveniently for Heffer, fellow guest Michael Cockerell remembered Powell telling him. “What’s wrong with racism? Racism is the basis of nationality.” Oops.)

Heffer went on to point out that Powell loved India and had hoped, pre-independence, to be appointed viceroy. See, he loved brown people so much he wanted to be their colonial overseer! He mentioned that Powell read ancient Greek at the age of 15 and could speak 14 languages, at one point stuttering the mantra, “He was a very clever man,” as if racism were the exclusive domain of the stupid. I wonder if he’s ever seen this clip from The Simpsons:



Webb somewhat apologetically suggested that the speech might have been “pretty incautious” but declined to press the point, and the item ended with everyone laughing about Powell’s love of doing impressions of people on Antiques Roadshow. Good times.


Heffer is no crank pariah. There’s an ongoing effort on the right to rehabilitate Powell. In a mealy-mouthed piece in the Telegraph on Saturday, Ed West did the “very clever man” routine (Powell picked Wagner, Beethoven and Haydn on Desert Island Discs, don’t you know?), threw in some flattering anecdotes and skipped daintily past the rivers of blood to focus on one area where Powell might feel vindicated: his Euroscepticism. Let’s remind ourselves of what West left out.

Firstly, the speech was no gaffe or unguarded remark but a calculated provocation. A few days earlier, Powell had told a friend, “I’m going to make a speech at the weekend and it’s going to go up ‘fizz’ like a rocket; but whereas all rockets fall to the earth, this one is going to stay up.” Secondly, he chose to quote the most explosive and alarmist comments from his constituents: “In this country in 15 or 20 years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man”; “When she goes to the shops, she is followed by children, charming, wide-grinning piccaninnies.” If he were not interested in race-baiting, he need not have used that language. Thirdly, he wasn’t merely expressing reservations about multiculturalism — he was saying that immigrants had no right to be here in the first place. Fourthly, racial assaults, both verbal and physical, increased immediately after the speech, as if Powell had given racists the green light — in one instance white youths attacked Asians with metal bars outside a school in Southall. The likes of MP Paul Boateng and actor Sanjeev Bhaskar have talked about the mood in the playground and the street changing the very next day. In a piece for the Institute of Race Relations Jenny Bourne writes: “The point that is missed by almost every commentator to date is that Powell, though he might have echoed sentiments of his West Midlands voters, actually went on to create the Rivers of Blood he warned against. The blood shed was not that of the White English – clearly what Powell feared in the wake of US ‘race riots’ in the late 1960s – but of the Black newcomers, which is why it went largely unreported.”

It was hardly the most progressive era and yet the establishment rounded on Powell. Edward Heath sacked him from the shadow cabinet while the Times editorial called it “an evil speech” which “appealed to racial hatred”. To Ed West, it seems, they were all a bunch of politically correct lefties. One section of his piece begs to be quoted in full:

Certainly it was inflammatory in tone, and when a West Indian christening party was attacked soon after by yobs heard to shout “Powell”, the media was quick to erect a cordon sanitaire around his views. Yet there was, if anything, more violence from the Left. Powell’s constituency home was attacked, there were bomb threats when he was due to address universities, an edition of Any Questions had to me moved, and a planned visit to his old school was abandoned for fear of disruption.

Yes, you read that correctly. Never mind the people who had their faces slashed at a christening — they had to move Any Questions!

West stops short of spraying “Enoch Was Right” on the wall but only just. “Was he right? To a certain extent.” Really? To what extent? He was wrong to compare the British situation to race riots in America and communitarian tensions in India. He was wrong to say that the only solution to racial tension was to stop non-white people entering the country. He was wrong to predict race war, although he kept at it, cropping up like a crazy old uncle in 1976 (saying race war would make the Troubles in Northern Ireland “enviable”) and 1981 (saying that the summer’s riots threatened “civil war”). Wrong every time, unless you’re Anders Behring Breivik.

Back to West. “And yet the profound cultural changes following 1968 made it impossible to address these issues, with the rise of television as the dominant political medium and the decline of religion. A new generation wanted their politics to make them feel good about themselves, and to define moral worth.”

Ah, so we don’t like Enoch Powell because we’re all godless telly addicts who can’t handle the truth? No, it’s because of Powell’s hysterical talk of “piccaninnies” and “the whip hand” and “the River Tiber foaming with much blood” that the subject became toxic in mainstream politics. Enoch Powell’s biggest enemy wasn’t Ted Heath or students picketing Any Questions: it was Enoch Powell. By mistaking his own extreme pessimism and racist paranoia for fearless clarity, he brought misery to the lives of many British citizens, ruined his political career and even damaged his own cause. For a man who could speak 14 languages, that doesn’t seem very clever after all.


  1. Thank you for this erudite rebuttal. Needless to say, not everyone at Ed’s workplace shares his views.

  2. A fine assessment of the evil of Powell’s speech (and general anti-immigration, anti-black teachings) then and the odd movement on the libertarian right to rehabilitate him now. We’re a multi-cultural and diverse society now and better for it.

  3. Excellent article, I think it’s clear that Enoch was a racist. In every day life when I come across racism, I find it’s more effective to tell someone they’re being rude or unkind before mentioning racism — otherwise people close up and get defensive.

  4. The hypocrisy of the claim that Enoch Powell was only an opponent of the disruptive effects of immigration rather than the blatant race-hater that he was was revealed by his actions. There is indeed a part of the UK where large groups of immigrants not only refused to fit in with the local people but insisted, successfully, on holding the whip hand over them and where unquestionably, “rivers of blood” have flowed as a result That part of the UK is the six counties of Northern Ireland. Enoch Powell chose to abandon his own country (as his Welsh forebears had left theirs) to join that immigrant community and to represent them in parliament.

  5. “The blood shed was not that of the White English – clearly what Powell feared in the wake of US ‘race riots’ in the late 1960s – but of the Black newcomers, which is why it went largely unreported.”
    Er,yes, I am sure the relatives of PC Blakelock, Pc Pat Dunne. WPC Nina McKay, PC Berezozsky (dunno about the spelling) Philip Lawrence, Kriss Donald, Charlene Downes, Ben Kinsella, Rob Knox (of Harry Potter fame) Tom ap Rhys Price, John Monckton of Chelsea, Geoffrey Bacon of Camberwell, Constance Brown, 72, of Streatham, Elizabeth Pinhorn , 96, of Herne Hill, Thomas Kidd, 61, of Tulse Hill, Ted Howell, 75, of Lewisham, Leslie Watkinson, 66, of Peckham, and Frank “Paddy” Dempsey, 56, of Clapham, Richard Mannington Bowes of Ealing, William McKeeney of Glasgow, Like Fitzpatrick of Dollis Hill, Lee Massey of Bradford, Gavin Hopley 19 of Oldham Ross Parker of Peterborough, David Lees of Prestwich, Christopher Yates,murdered by Zahid Bashir et al, Richard Everitt and Craig Marshall would wholeheartedly agree with this brilliant analysis of the glories of immigration.

    The rivers of blood HAVE happened and are contiuing to happen: it’s just that the media is terrified of giving it any prominence.

    • I fiercely disagree with this analysis and find it repellent that you would frame any case in which a non-white person attacked a white one in racial terms. To me this EDL honour roll, which lumps together several unconnected cases (Nina McKay’s murderer, for example, was a paranoid schizophrenic with no racial motive), merely confirms the cock-eyed racist perspective of Powell’s fans and their willingness to see rivers of blood where none exist.

  6. Well, are you denying that all of these people would still be alive if Enoch had been heeded?

    • That’s insane logic. You don’t repatriate every non-white person on the basis that a tiny minority, for reasons often not related to race, might one day kill somebody. I’m sure if you’d have removed everyone with blue eyes from the country in 1968 you’d have saved the lives of everyone subsequently killed by someone with blue eyes but that doesn’t make it a good idea. Even Enoch Powell himself would think your argument was crazy.

  7. “I find it repellent that you would frame any case in which a non-white person attacked a white one in racial terms.”

    Well, er every case in which a white attacks a non white will undoubtedly be framed in exclusively racial terms by the left.

  8. The other problem is that, with the Afro-Carribean communty, it is NOT a tiny minority, it is a very substantial minoity. About 6% of white males will go to jail at some point in the UK. For Afro-Carribeans this is about 36%. Take a bus through Brixton a few times. Then come back and tell me how much you love multiculturalism. Assuming you come back.

    • I have done, plenty of times. Fortunately unlike you I’m not a racist who freaks out at the sight of a black face so it was fine. Although I’m sure you don’t consider yourself a racist – nobody does.

  9. an article written by John Derbyshire New York Natuional review bout 10yrs back….

    The Island Race … Riots
    The English have created their very own race problem from scratch.

    Mr. Derbyshire is also aan NR contributing editor
    May 31, 2001 4:00 p.m.

    E-mail John


    E-mail a Friend

    Derb’s Archive
    hat’s all this about race riots in England?” my American friends keep asking me. “Who are these ‘Asians’ that are throwing rocks at the police? What’s their beef? Can you explain this?” You bet I can. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

    It is important to understand that England’s race problem is nothing like America’s. The U.S.A. began her existence with three different races in residence, and has never had any choice but to make the best of things. No white American, whatever he might think privately of his black or red fellow-countrymen, could ever, with a clear conscience, say to them: “You don’t belong here. Go live somewhere else.” His black neighbors came here in bondage, and the red ones were already here long before either black or white showed up. Nobody is going anywhere. The actual answer to Rodney King’s famous question — “Can’t we all just get along?” — is still not clear, at any rate not to me; but we must surely try our best.

    England is a completely different case. The country was essentially monoracial until the 1950s. Multi-culti propagandists try to fudge this, saying that the English have always been a gorgeous mosaic of different peoples — Romans, Saxons, Normans, and so on. These arguments do not bear close examination. The English have no folk memory of the Romans whatever; the Romans made their impact on the Celtic British (who have since turned into the Welsh), not on the English, most of whom arrived long after the legions had left. The French-speaking Normans and Plantagenets were, demographically speaking, a thin layer painted on to the top of Anglo-Saxon society, and had been completely absorbed into that society by the 14th century. Of later influxes, there is nothing to report but a few thousand Huguenots (i.e., French Protestants) in the 17th century, and a similar number of Russian Jews in the 19th, all of whom were easily accommodated and soon melted into the general population. The last really big influx of foreigners into England, displacing masses of ordinary English people, was that of the Danes in the 9th century; and since the Anglo-Saxons had themselves come from Denmark and its neighborhood three or four hundred years previously, this was an invasion of cousins. (It made a great impression on the English, though. I grew up a mile or so from Hunsbury Hill in Northamptonshire, an old Iron Age hill fort. The locals referred to it anachronistically as “Danes’ Camp,” still remembering the great events of eleven hundred years before.) The immigrants who arrived in the 1950s found the English, as a people, pretty much undisturbed since the Peace of Wedmore, A.D. 878.

    These differences of origin explain the differences of feeling. The most important, most fundamental feeling behind America’s race problem is the anger nursed by black Americans over the enslavement of their forebears, and over the indignities and insults of the “Jim Crow” century that followed. The driving force behind England’s race problem is utterly different: It is the resentment felt by native English people toward the floods of foreigners that have taken over large parts of their towns and cities. Most of these foreigners are dark-skinned: blacks from the Caribbean and West Africa, and south Asians from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. However, though I am using “race problem” as a convenient short-hand for the topic under discussion, it is not clear that the issue of England’s black and Asian population has anything to do with race. It is easy to imagine that very similar problems would have arisen if the hundreds of thousands of foreigners flooding into English cities had been Portuguese or Polish. Indeed, some of the nastier “racist” incidents of recent years have featured attacks by white Englishmen on “asylum-seekers,” most of whom are white-skinned Slavs from the Balkans.

    It cannot be said often enough that the immigration policies of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s were a great and terrible injustice on the English working class. I have an aunt who lives in the Aston district of Birmingham, a large industrial city in the West Midlands. (Samuel Johnson, who hailed from the much more sedate, nearby city of Lichfield, said: “We are a city of philosophers: We work with our heads, and make the boobies of Birmingham work for us with their hands.”) When my aunt went to live there as a honeymooner in the early 1950s, Aston was a sleepy working-class neighborhood with a community life centered on churches, pubs, schools, and corner shops. Now it is all Asian. My aunt and uncle are the only white faces in their street, and feel, as they will tell you with much bitterness, “strangers in our own country”. The neighboring Lozells district has suffered even worse, being taken over by Caribbeans. In the 1950s it was a cut above Aston, very nearly lower-middle class — “Very bay window over there,” as Birmingham people say. Now it is a bedlam of vice and crime, and there was a ferocious race riot there in September 1985 when police launched a campaign against drug trafficking.

    The fact that these immigration policies were cruel and unjust to the English working class — who had borne the brunt of the resulting social dislocations — does not, of course, mean that the immigrants themselves were to blame for them. The immigrants were seeking a better life, just as I was when I moved to the U.S.A. England in the 1960s was not an especially wonderful place to live; but if your standard of comparison was a village in Bangladesh, or a slum in Jamaica, England looked like paradise. The first generation of immigrants kept their heads down, worked all the hours they could get, and put up with the hostility of the natives. Their children have a different outlook. Those who were bright and disciplined enough to take advantage of the educational system rose easily into the middle classes. The last time I had a job in England — I was a systems analyst at an investment bank in 1991 — my department head was black, and my team leader from a Sikh family. Race relations in the middle class are very good — much better than America’s, in my opinion. The problem is with the left-hand end of the bell curve: educationally unsuccessful young people from immigrant families. They simmer angrily in derelict post-industrial cities like Manchester, where this week’s disturbances took place, and organize themselves into gangs. There is, of course, no easier way to mark gang membership than by race.

    In the case of the Asians there has been an unsettling transformation of manners and even appearance. The first generation of south Asian immigrants had the physique of people raised on a subsistence diet, and the manners of those who, to survive at all, have had to fawn and scrape for centuries before callous, arrogant landlords and bureaucrats. When I started doing office work in London, the companies were full of Indian bookkeepers who had to be restrained by force from beginning their business letters: “Esteemed Sir…” and ending them: “I beg to remain, esteemed Sir, with consideration, you most humble, most obedient servant…”. Their children (who are sometimes called “boscos” from the census-taker’s category: “British, of Sub-Continental Origin”), raised on an ample diet, tower over them, and are physically a match for any gang of white English skinheads. Products of modern western culture and an educational system steeped in psychobabble, they esteem no one but themselves.

    Many of these young boscos say: “Why shouldn’t we be here? The English came to our parents’ countries without being asked, and lorded it over them, and insulted them, and milked their economies, and looted their historical relics, for 200 years. Well, now it’s payback time!” There are a number of things to be said in response to this. (Other than the obvious: “Do you promise to leave after 200 years?”) The U.S.A., a nation that broke free from the Imperial grasp, is naturally hostile to imperialism, and most Americans probably believe that the British Empire was what George Orwell said it was — an exploitative racket. I don’t agree with this myself. It seems to me that the British Empire was one of the greatest civilizing forces the world has ever seen. At the very least, the post-Imperial history of places like Uganda suggests that there are worse things that can happen to a country than to be ruled by Englishmen. (And I recall, from my Hong Kong days, the 12-foot fence that separated that British colony from mainland China, erected so that the mainlanders would be unable to act on their inexplicable impulse to flee from the delights of Chinese government into the horrors of British Imperialism.) But be all that as it may, and whichever side of that particular argument you come down on — please don’t write to tell me, I’ve heard it all far too many times — there are two things that cannot seriously be denied: one, that the British authorities could have kept the country closed to immigration if they had wanted to, whatever the rest of the world thought about it, and two, that those Englishmen who profited from the Empire were not the ones whose neighborhoods were flooded with strangers.

    It is not easy to lay blame for this situation. As I have said, you can’t blame people for trying to better themselves; and the black and brown young Englishmen who are now busily erecting ghettoes for themselves had no choice about where they were born. Though I am not a big fan of victimological poses, if the blacks and boscos are victims of anything, they are victims of stupid policies enacted by British governments. The British ruling classes were the ones who actually opened the country’s doors, and people like the late Duncan Sandys, Commonwealth Secretary in the critical early 1960s (and a son-in-law of Winston Churchill — this English surname is pronounced “Sands,” by the way), have much to answer for. Their motives as stated at the time, to the limited degree that they bothered to explain themselves to their people, were “to relieve labor shortages.” This is not very plausible. Any economist will tell you that there is no such thing as a labor shortage, only an unwillingness to pay sufficient wages to induce people to work. My own neighborhood here on Long Island is currently infested by illegal immigrants from Mexico who work as laborers for local contractors and landscaping firms. “Nobody else will do the work,” moan these employers. Well, there is some level of wages at which plenty of local people would be glad to do it. Heck, for forty bucks an hour, I would do it.

    The real motivation of British elites seems to have been guilt and sentimentality. Most of these people, especially those from the upper- and upper-middle classes like Sandys, had done pretty well out of the Empire. Their natural cast of mind was a guilt-soaked paternalistic indulgence toward the black and brown folk they and their parents had ruled over. And of course, it was not to their neighborhoods that the immigrants had poured. People like Sandys were in the happy position of being able to assuage their post-colonial guilt at zero cost to themselves. To the degree that they were shareholders in industries that used cheap immigrant labor, they actually profited from unrestrained immigration. The costs fell on those like my aunt and uncle, factory workers who were paid on a Thursday and flat broke the following Wednesday. Or on those like 76-year-old Walter Chamberlain, a veteran of WW2, who was attacked by a bosco gang in Manchester last month, thrown to the ground and kicked in the face for having had the impertinence to stray into “their” part of the city.

    Yet as satisfying as it may to pin it all on Britain’s insufferably arrogant ruling elites, the country is a democracy, and the people had plenty of opportunities to make their voices heard. In 1968 a leading English politician, Enoch Powell, made a well-publicized and colorful speech in which he deplored the incoming flood of immigrants, and predicted, pretty accurately, the problems his country would face in the future if the process was not reversed. Powell was promptly sacked from his post in the Conservative party (then in opposition) and all the panjandrums of the British establishment denounced him. Yet a poll taken at the time showed that 74 percent of the public agreed with his opinions. Why did that 74 percent not translate into actual government policies through the ballot box? Presumably because, when time came to vote, people thought other things were more important; and also because citizens were willing to be browbeaten by their elites into being ashamed of their own feelings — to believe, because politicians, intellectuals, clergymen, and TV talking heads told them so, that their own instinctive national pride, which had preserved their country’s independence for a thousand years, was a sinful thing, a species of that greatest of all modern sins, “racism.”

    Orthodox modern thinking, of course, blames the whole business on “racism,” and sees the solution as one of education and enlightenment. Even if there were any truth in this, which I do not believe, it would still be a deeply unhelpful point of view. These kinds of conflicts turn up everywhere in the world that people of different cultural backgrounds are obliged to live close together, so if there really is such a thing as “racism,” it seems to arise from deep within human nature. And if education is a solution, the prospects are dim indeed, since the British educational system, like the American one, is increasingly unable to instill even the rudiments of literacy and arithmetic in youngsters, so that it is hard to see how it will be able to get across sophisticated ethical concepts like the brotherhood of man. And in any case, as I have noted above, it is not certain that race has much to do with it. Visitors to England since at least Chaucer’s time have noted that the English simply do not much like foreigners.

    There is, of course, nothing that can be done now. England has become a multicultural society, though no large number of English people ever wanted it to be. Through the folly, arrogance, and sentimentality of their well-insulated ruling class, and by their own inattention, deference, disorganization, and reluctance to appear unkind, the English have given up large tracts of their country to foreigners, whom they dislike and who dislike them right back. The English have created their very own race problem from scratch — possibly the greatest act of self-destructive folly perpetrated by any civilized nation in the twentieth century.

    • Are you aware that even a publication as right-wing as the National Review felt obliged to sack “Derb” for crossing the line into race hate? You’re quoting an extremist crank and asking me what I think. I think he’s a virulent racist whose name is now mud in the world of journalism. I don’t understand where you’re going with this.

  10. A “wacist” is someone who is winning an argument with a leftist

    • No, a racist is someone who posts the kind of garbage you’re posting. You’re not winning an argument, you’re just banging a drum. Instead of wasting your time here, there are plenty of websites full of people who agree with you – people who, like you, don’t believe they’re racist even as they rant about black criminality and having their country stolen. It’s an amazing thing – even Nick Griffin won’t be labelled a racist these days.

  11. My primary schoolwas in Brixton. When I was akid in the early seventies, many of my relatives lived there, and in neighbouring areas such as Peckham, Camberwell The Elephant etc. They do not, I can assure you, live in them thar parts no more. The drugs dealing and gang rapes and drive by shootings and Black “Muslims” selling hate sheets on the corner and armoured cops smashing down doors at 4 am all just got exciting, and they all baled to places like Bromley or Bexley, or Croydon (where the drug dealing, gang rapes drive by shootings etc will no doubt follow em) Those who were left mainly got out after the riots of 81 83 and 87.

    No one in this debete EVER asks the white working cl;ass of the inner cities if they actually WANTED to live in a multicultural society. Few do.

    • A shame you’re incapable of acknowledging any of the benefits of immigration and see black people only as drug dealers and gang rapists. I grew up in Bexley and was glad to get out of the whole area because the level of everyday racism was disgusting, let alone its proximity to the BNP HQ in Welling and Stephen Lawrence’s murder in Eltham. If you want to live your life guided by prejudice and fear of non-white people that’s your business. I’m glad I feel differently and I’m much happier living in a multiracial neighbourhood than I was in Bexley. Obviously you don’t have to agree or do likewise.

  12. “Obviously you don’t have to agree or do likewise.”

    Well, I will have to do likewise when there are no white areas left. Which is probably sooner than we think.

  13. “A shame you’re incapable of acknowledging any of the benefits of immigration.”

    Well thats because I struggle to discern too many,especially Afro-Carribean or Islamic immigration.

    • Well that’s because you’re a paranoid racist. You make racist arguments and assumptions, you post racist articles. Given that, from what you say, you live in a largely white area, why do you get so agitated about people of a different colour? Because you’re abnormally obsessed with race. At least own up to that.

      • Er, why was my previous mail deleted?

  14. “Given that, from what you say, you live in a largely white area,”

    Yes, I do, and very nice it is too, thank you. For now, anyway.

  15. Yup, I live in an area which is mainly white, (for now, anyway) and like it a lot thank you.

    Tell me, what exactly is the point of posting articles on the internet, inviting responses, and presumably trying to provoke a debate, if anyone who disagrees with your thesis,or who brings insights on the subject which are unwelcome to you, is then demonised.

    For quite literally as far back as I can remember ( I was born in 65) the British left has used this tactic re the subject of immigration multiculturalism and enforced cultural enrichment. Lets have a debate, as long as no one disagrees with us. Or, increasingly over the last few years, “Let’s have a debate, but anyone who disagrees with us loses his job.

    • Tell me, what do you expect from me? You’ve had your say, several times, and it’s clear that we don’t agree on anything. Everything you’ve written indicates that you’re prejudiced against non-white people living in Britain. You label them rapists, drug dealers and hate preachers who contribute nothing to the country yet as soon as someone calls you a racist you complain of being “demonised”. There’s no point spending any more time debating with you. You’ve made your point repeatedly and nothing’s going to change your mind.

  16. google in Charlene downes

  17. Do you believe that the UK should have an immigration service, or do you believe that the entire popuklation of the planet, should, if they wish to do so, be allowed to settle in this country on a permanant basis?

  18. Reblogged this on luks blog and commented:
    großartiger text über den “paten” rassistischer paranoia in der britischen Gesellschaft und seine anhaltende wirkung seit den sechziger jahren – und über rassismus, der partout nicht so genannt werden will (dazu dann auch nochmal: http://timoluks.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/protestsong-der-woche-vi-the-specials-racist-friend/)

  19. From Ed West’s response…

    But the racial violence that followed the April 20 speech has been exaggerated in the public consciousness for political reasons. I may be wrong about that, and I don’t doubt that there were incidents of hatred, nor that many people felt scared, but I cannot find any figures to justify the popular idea that there was some sort of pogrom.

    Bear in mind that there was far less violence, either inter-racially or intra-racially, in the period following Powell’s speech than in Britain today. The actual, factually recorded rise in inter-racial violence in England began in the early 1970s with the phenomenon of mugging, but this has been largely suppressed in the national consciousness, despite its role in sparking the iconic anti-racist victory at the Battle of Lewisham. People in inner-cities were far more likely to be drawn into political extremism by the experience of street violence against them or friends than by something a politician said in a speech in Birmingham.

    • OK then…

      “I cannot find any figures…”

      They’re hard to come by – racial incidents weren’t recorded or documented in the way they are now – so maybe you should think twice about overriding a wealth of first-person testimony with stats you don’t have.

      “…to justify the popular idea that there was some sort of pogrom”

      Is this a popular idea? Or is it an absurd overstatement invented by West just so that he can dismiss it? All I said was that Powell’s speech helped to foster a climate of fear and suspicion which, in some cases, manifested itself in physical violence.

      “The actual, factually recorded rise in inter-racial violence in England began in the early 1970s with the phenomenon of mugging.”

      This may well be true (though figures would be helpful) but mugging is not a racially motivated crime so it’s a dubious comparison.

      “People in inner-cities were far more likely to be drawn into political extremism by the experience of street violence against them or friends than by something a politician said in a speech in Birmingham.”

      If I’m reading this correctly, West is implying that the rise of the National Front was an act of self-defence against black criminals, which is an alarming claim given that (a) many of the NF’s victims were ordinary families, and (b) the NF’s expressed policy: ”
      “The National Front advocates a total ban on any further non-White immigration into Britain, and the launching of a phased plan of repatriation for all coloured immigrants.”

      So West is digging himself ever deeper into denial and bogus casuality. Not being the strawman kneejerk leftist you seem to think I am, I have no love of muslim extremists or criminals of any race, and I don’t believe in unchecked immigration, but West is just making excuses for a growth in racist violence that began in the late 60s (the NF formed in 1967) and boomed in the late 70s.

  20. “If I’m reading this correctly, West is implying that the rise of the National Front was an act of self-defence against black criminals, ”

    Er, I don’t think he’s implying it, he’s actually stating it.

    • I was giving him the benefit of the doubt because I didn’t want to believe he was actually defending the NF. Responding to crime by a minority of a certain group by repatriating all of them is almost the dictionary definition of racism.

  21. West seems to have done some homework on the social history of the period. I have the advantage over both of you as (a) I was around at the time and (b) living right beside Brixton, where many of my relatives lived. I can only concur with what he implied. From personal experience I agree that the surge in support for the NF and other extremist groups in the seventies had little to do with Enoch’s peroration (a lot of which went over the heads of many locals anyway)
    and far more to with the extraordinarily unpleasant and anti-social behaviour of Afro-Carribean yoof in the area, especially the vicious (and frequently fatal) muggings of elderly whites.

    I would thouroughly rec “The Likes Of Us: A Portrait of the White Working Class” by Michael Collins, who went to school a couple of miles up the road at the Elephant a few yrs before me. He made the point that for the Polly Toynbees and Gaurdianistas of this world, blacks are an abstraction: they’re there to be patronised and pitied and emoted over and told that they are the helpless victims of societal “institutional racism” – which somehow never seemed to stop the Jews or Sikhs or French Hugeneots or Irish or East African Asians moving up the social scale – they don’t have any blacks in Hampstead or Surrey or the Cotswolds or Tuscan villas.

    The native unskilled working class in places like VauxHall Kennington The Elephant etc who had to bear the brunt of mass immigration had a rather less rose tinted view of the Afro-Carribean community. These were people whose familes might have been living there for 2 centuries, who prior to the mid fifties might never have encountered a coloured person, and who saw their kids reduced to minority status within a generation. As Collins stated, they regarded blacks basically as unwanted competitors for scarce jobs and housing, and as violent and sexually predatory aggressors rather than passive victims in the local streets.

    How Collins managed to keep his job in the then prevailing post-McPherson climate of racial hysteria in London, I dunno, especially as he was working for Al-Beeb, peace be upon it.

    • I’ll leave you with the last word because I’m closing the comments on this thread. I have to approve each one manually and, fun though this, is I don’t have time to keep going back and forth with the same commenter about the same subject for yet another week. Obviously we’re poles apart but I hope you feel you’ve made your point.

  22. The other thing I always remember from that period is the hatred the local whites had towards the Tarquins and Cressidas of the “Anti Nazi League” and the Socialist “Workers” Party who came down on day trips from Hampstead to hand out their newspapers,patronise the locals and cry “waaaycist” when they made some polite disagreement about the effects of immigration.

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