Enoch Powell Poet

In 1968, the late John Enoch Powell, a member of Edward Heath’s Conservative Shadow Cabinet, delivered what has gone down in history as “The Rivers of Blood” speech. In it Powell argued that non-white immigration into the United Kingdom should be halted and that those immigrants already present should be encouraged to return to their countries of origin. The speech was condemned by Heath and led to Powell being dismissed from the Shadow Cabinet.

The decision of BBC Radio 4 to broadcast the speech in full at 8 PM (UK time) on the evening of 14th April, has provoked much controversy (see, for example https://www.telegraph.co.uk/radio/what-to-listen-to/bbc-radio-4-broadcast-enoch-powells-rivers-blood-speech-first/).

I in no way endorse Powell’s views on race, as can be seen from my poem “Kipling May Regret”, https://scvincent.com/2018/03/26/guest-author-kevin-morris-kipling-may-regret/. However the furore over the impending broadcast reminded me that Powell was (as well as being a politician) a poet of some distinction, http://laudatortemporisacti.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/cheerful-thoughts-from-enoch-powell.html.

We can (and should) separate a man’s views from his literary output. Consequently, while in no way endorsing Powell’s opinions on race, one can appreciate his verse which does, to my mind have echoes of that of A. E. Housman.



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