Thursday, 5 March 2009

Enoch Powell: Liberal or Far Right?

A most interesting discussion over at ConHome on Enoch Powell. John Anslow posted this comment:
"Powell was one of most influential voices for the decriminalization of homosexuality, and also his opposition to capital and corporal punishment. His speech deploring the murder by warders of eleven Mau Mau terrorists was described by Dennis Healey as “the greatest parliamentary speech I ever heard”.

His “Water Towers” speech of 1961 began the process that led to the closure of the great mental institutions and the move towards Care in the Community.

His ideas on economics centred on the importance of free trade and its relationship to a free society; and he deplored the state interference that has always been a feature of far-right parties.

Even his love of country, demonstrated when he gave up a professorship at the University of Sydney immediately on the outbreak of the Second World War to enlist as a private soldier, ( “he …. fancied he could hear the boots of the German armies drilling through the earth and reaching him in Australia”) was expressed through his love of the poetry of A. E. Housman.

Powell was a complex man, and a great Englishman; one who deserves to be remembered with much greater respect than his legacy currently enjoys."

I am more of the opinion that Powell was much more far-Right; he's been misquoted about rivers of blood often enough, of course, but what clinches it for me is that he tried to push quite strenuously the idea of 'voluntary re-emigration'. Not a 'liberal' tactic.


  1. 'Voluntary re-immigration' may not be a 'liberal' tactic but it is one which is an ever growing ideal in the hearts and minds of the indigenous people of these Isles.

    You may regard it as illiberal but I, for one echo Powell's sentiments

  2. It's like most of these people who are held up as hate figures by the left. Once you get into the history you find they were much more complex than what they are criticised for.

    Oswald Mosley -- while being a fascist -- is also a very interesting figure. Especially if you read his speeches when he resigned from the Labour Party.

  3. Ah - I'm in favour of it, Cato, as long as it's voluntary, not forced either through mental or emotional -or indeed physical - manipulation. And indeed only to redress the balance and to return to the fairly healthy levels we had before NuLab opened the borders to all comers. I just don't think it fits a liberal criterion.

  4. On the last bit about voluntary re-immigration, or whatever it was called, that was over 40 years ago. The discourse has changed beyond recognition. Homosexuality was punishable by prison, women stayed at home and made cakes, children got a clip 'round the ear if they were naughty..etc. People called this a "Christian" country and by and large went along with that.

    It is generalising to call Powell "far right". He was an intellectual and arrived at his views from sources other than the national consensus.

    At any rate, he has to some extent been proved right about many things including the damage that uncontrolled immigration has done to large areas of England. For example, the birth rate among Asians is much higher, resulting in a doubling of the Asian population in this country in the space of five years. Their refusal to integrate, their importation of anti-democratic agendas and practices and their refusal to accept the laws of the land are a Powellian nightmare come true.

  5. Enoch Powell was an interesting man.

    I disagreed with a lot of the things that he said, but he was far more thoughtful and broad-minded than many of his critics.

    He was prepared to think the unthinkable, and to say it publicly. He may have been wrong a lot of the time, but he may turn out to have been correct more often than a lot of people are willing to admit.


Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat -Ralph Ellison