I have just finished listening to a dramatization of Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech on BBC Radio 4, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09z08w3. The speech (which is voiced by an actor as no complete recording of it exists, is interspersed by the reactions of contemporary listeners. The Conservative journalist/commentator and biographer of Powell, Simon Heffer defended Powell against accusations of “racism”, while the former Conservative MP, Matthew Paris condemned Powell unequivocally.
The programme was, in my view balanced with David Lammy (a Labour MP) giving his perspective, together with several academics and members of the ethnic minorities who where affected by Powell’s speech.
Prior to the programme having been broadcast, there where calls for the BBC to pull it from the airwaves (the Labour peer, Lord Adonis argued that it should not be broadcast). As a believer in free speech (and having heard the programme) I believe that the BBC was right to broadcast the speech (together with reactions to it). Powell’s views are wrong and (to me) abhorrent. He did, nonetheless voice them and one can not sweep opinions which most people find offensive under the carpet. So I applaud the bravery of the BBC in airing this programme.