____________________________ A few notes about Enoch Powell and why he was the greatest British Statesman since Churchill. ___________________________
J Enoch Powell.MBE. A brief history of his career.
John Enoch Powell, politician and classical scholar: was born in Strechford, Birmingham on the 16th June 1912 and was the only son of two school teacher parents. His mother gave up teaching to bring him up. She taught herself Greek and introduced him to it. I recall Powell laughing and saying how if he made a mistake in some translation to her she would throw a wet dish cloth at him! He said of his childhood - in a house overlooking a railway yard - my childhood was my mother - if I were to design a childhood - it would be in the image of mine with my mother. His parents, persuaded him not to pursue a career in music.
He won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, and, in his first year, won all the main classical prizes open to undergraduates: this achievement remains unique. His tutor was the poet and classicist A E Houseman.
He eventually became a Professor of Greek and Fellow of Trinity College (1934-38). He went to Australia, to the University of Sydney (1937-39).
Powell had completed A Lexicon to Herodotus by 1938 &emdash; the best complete guide to the meaning of all the words used by the great Greek historian &emdash; and a translation of Thucydides was completed before he took his degree in 1933. He taught himself Welsh and translated mediaeval Welsh texts.
On the outbreak of war in 1939 he resigned to return home to join up as a soldier. He rose from the ranks to become the youngest Brigadier in the British Army . He was awarded the MBE 1943, and went on to serve in India which he fell in love with, and learned both Hindi and Urdu. At the time of his death, Powell was fluent in eight languages.
He became an MP (Conservative) for Wolverhampton South-West (1950-74). He served under Churchill - declining a junior ministerial post. He was Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Local Government (1955-57); Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1957-58); Minister of Health (1960-63); he became a Privy Councillor in 1960. then resigned from the Conservative Party in 1983 and later became an Ulster Unionist MP for South Down.
Mr Powell (and Mrs Powell) served under Churchill for a brief period during Churchill's last administration (he refers to this period in his Burford Bridge speech
He married in 1952 Pamela Wilson (two daughters).
He died in London 8th February 1998.
Reading the above one would think Mr Powell was a minor British politician of the era. In fact he was in the author's - and many other people's view - the greatest British politician since Churchill.
Why do you claim this? I hear you ask.
In this small tribute I wish to make a few comments upon aspects of the man that I have not read about in his obituaries.
To observe Powell addressing an audience was to see an unsmiling somewhat unapproachable school master type of man who delivered impressive speeches with sincerity and a deep knowledge of his subject, but which often sounded so convoluted that one needed the the text to follow his analytical train of thought and which then provided a whole day's reflection.
Powell's career has been extensively written about. During his life many books on his political ideas, editions of his essays and speeches were published. Of no other post-war British politician can this be said.
Powell's speeches dealt with the big issues &emdash; relations between the individual and the State, the tensions between state sovereignty, national identity and the European Community: the nature of patriotism, and the very purpose of politics, inflation and economics.
Powell Free Market Economics.
It is very difficult for us today to remember just how radical Powell's Free Market Enterprise Economic policies were during the 1960s and onwards, so successful have they been since they were adopted. So successful that even the New Labour government has continued with them. Little thanks or credit did he receive during his lifetime for them. Nicholas Ridley MP formed the twelve member Economic dining Club in 1972 and to which Powell belonged - eventually dominating it by his sheer intellectual ability. Mrs Thatcher joined the club in 1977 after she became leader of the conservative party, but before she became prime minister.
The term "Thatcherism" implies today that the economic policies she pursued when she became prime minister (which were so successful) were her ideas; they were not, they were Powell's. To this day she has never acknowledged this fact, nor did she even attend his funeral, but sent her husband to represent her.
Powell resigned with Nigel Birch and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr Peter Thorneycroft over a mere 2.5% inflation. Prime Minister Macmillan (im) famously brushed the incident aside as "a little local difficulty" , but time proved Powell's assertion right - namely that inflation could only be caused by governments spending more than they received in taxation. All the politicians and academics talked of it being caused by strikes - by wage increases - by foreigners - the gnomes of Zurich - the endless alarm and nonsense spoken about the balance of payments (he taught us about the floating exchange rate) and a hundred and one other reasons glibly trotted out, Powell proved that academics and politicians were as profoundly ignorant of the nature of money as were the public.
It must have been disagreeable and very tiresome to have, year upon year, to have expound his economic Free Market Economy theories and to be so ignored and then to see both Macmillan and Heath (especially Heath) revert back to such things as state intervention in industry, and prices and incomes policies. But speak out time and time again in eloquent and forceful language for a free market economy is what he did.
It is difficult to know how they could continue to pursue such policies after the endless sequence of financial crisises that followed upon the origin of all these nostrums - the post war Labour government's Groundnuts Scheme. Only Powell knew the extent of the economic ignorance of his fellow politicians and their academic advisors.
Both political parties have since the war been craven in their failure to stop the debasement of the currency (by spending more than they raised in taxation and printing money to make up the deficit), and then in exploiting the consequent anxieties by vote winning promises to extend the welfare state. It was both political parties that caused the collapse of the provident self help that my parents generation had, and this created the spiralling State dependency we have today.
In 1945, 5% of the population received National Assistance - today (1998) it is 30%.
Powell dissected the folly of State intervention and State Planning; deficit financing; the schemes of National Economic Planning Committees - the Regional Economic Plans, the many and various Pay and Incomes policies; the rationalisation of industry policies; the disasters created by subsidised housing policies - especially the nightmare of life in Tower Blocks and their physical collapse and then demolition before their mortgages had been paid off. He expounded the true causes on inflation . . . and defended the Unions and the wage earners against the false charge that inflation was caused by them. He condemned pay pauses - national wage bargaining - the delusion that the Unions were the cause of inflation and far too powerful - He condemned the absurdity of Wilson's midnight beer and sandwich union wage negotiations at Downing Street. He condemned Training Schemes and Training Boards as an inflationary waste of public money claiming that manufacturers could far better train whatever skilled people they needed. He condemned Heath's policy of a special North East tax and investment regime (with its own cloth cap minister Quinton Hogg - later to be known as Lord Chancellor Hailsham) long before the scheme had corrupted the developer Poulson (who by his criminal activities also brought down the Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer Reginald Maudling).
Powell's legacy has been to teach the British about themselves - to tear away their self deceptions upon a huge range of subjects. The most important and enduring lesson he taught us was the benefits of a Free Market Economy with its fundamental corollary - the true nature of money and the true causes and effects of inflation.
Powell denied that the unions could have any influence on inflation whatever tricks they got up to and insisted - and taught us what we all accept today - that it was ONLY governments who can cause inflation by devaluing money by printing worthless paper money to pay their electoral debts.
All this is accepted today as if it had always been known.
Powell's views on The Commonwealth.
Powell was not against granting independence to the colonies, but thought the transformation of former empire territories into the 'Commonwealth' a nonsense - both conceptually and legally. In 1953 he considered the idea a bumbling good natured one, but one that in legal terms was sentimental national self deception and moreover one that misled the peoples of those colonies to under estimate the difficulties self government would present.
The British, being an island race and having no borders with other countries; had never thought it necessary that British citizenship should be legally defined. Not even after southern Ireland became the Republic of Eire were even the Irish considered foreigners or prevented from settling - and indeed voting - in the UK. So sure were we all of our nationality.
It was this failure by parliament, he said, to define in law what British nationality actually was; - as every other nation has done - which enabled the huge influx of immigrants into Great Britain. Had we done so, that immigration could not have happened.
Long before others, Mr Powell, realised what the consequences of our failure to introduce a British Nationality Act would be. Because he examined the small print of every piece of legislation passing through Parliament and pointed out the flaws in it, and also forensically examined the causes of problems that parliament was ignoring - he was - like Churchill - always ahead of them and as a consequence unpopular; for his conclusions forced him to privately warn his party colleagues . . . . and eventually the public . . . . when the politicians refused to heed his concerns.
The distinguishing feature of his political career - and the history of the Tory Party during it - , was the failure of his contemporaries in the party to acknowledge his great forensic, intellectual and parliamentary abilities and to work with him. History will primarily blame both Edward Heath and Maraget Thatcher for this.
Like Churchill - the passage of time has again proved him correct.
I wish he had felt able to define in British legal terms not only who a British citizen was but also who a Commonwealth citizen might be; their relations to the Crown and what rights and responsibilities both had in relation to each other and to the UK; for this would have enabled everyone to see the real difficulties that the absence of proper nationality legislation presented.
With his great knowledge and love of India and his evident humanity, it is impossible for us to believe that Powell could just turn his back on former colonies. But whilst he so eloquently defined the difficulties he never - so far as the author knows - ever put forward ideas that would have channelled the goodwill on both sides into a constructive working relationship.
Even after all these years since the granting of their independence - that has yet to be done.
Powell's dismissal by Edward Heath from the Conservative Shadow Cabinet as a result of his 1968 Birmingham speech on immigration was a hard blow; particularly as he had not intended to create the explosion he did. "I felt," he said, "like a man walking down a street who is hit on the head by a falling tile".
For Edward Heath it was an opportunity to rid himself of his most dangerous rival and he took it with alacrity. For Powell, his dismissal turned out to be the end his ministerial prospects. It also was the beginning of a prolonged period of personal scorn by the media, the intelligentsia and most of his former colleagues in the party. Certain serious newspapers gave such scant coverage to his speeches that it amounted to suppression.
The Conservative party treated him dishonourably. It has paid the price.
Someone had to lance the immigration boil - and no-one in the Conservative Party except Powell had the courage to do so. Powell suffered the same revilement that Churchill endured up to 1939. All today's legislation re immigration and race relations stems from Powell's remorseless logic and his persistent oratory - and is to the benefit of both the immigrant and indigenous population alike.
That such clarity of expression was so misunderstood is entirely the fault of the British Press who if they did not actually suppress his speeches, truncated them so much that his views came over as 'racialist' - a term they always used in relation to him and which they stubbornly refused to define.
To me at this period, the acts of omission by the Press and Media appeared as the acts of an enemy within the country: a far far harder enemy to expose and defeat than England's 1939 enemies.
But the result of the 1968 speech was an astonishing 120,000 letters of support. He had undoubtably struck a chord with the people. Powell was saying in public what the leaders of all political parties found to be unsayable in political life.
The Conservative party - as ever the political trimmers and appeasers - with the aid of the 'do gooding' 'liberal' intelligentsia, cowered the populace into a fear of free speech. An astonishing fact and one revealing of how the failure to teach British history to a whole generation had left people with little knowledge of how our forefathers had willingly died on scaffold and in battle in the cause of free speech.
Powell believed that national self-consciousness was the essence of nationhood and it was because of this that he rejected large scale immigration.
Because of the appalling 20th century (and before) racial persecutions both in Europe and in the USA, the opinion formers (not the public) saw Powell's immigration views as 'racialist'. What they failed to remember - or in their spite chose to forget - was that Powell knew and deeply loved India and spoke fluently two of its languages and that he had spoken in tears in the House of Commons years before at the injustices and murders committed by the authorities to the inmates of the Hola camp in Kenya.
Powell always insisted that immigration "was a question of numbers" - nothing else. He knew the volume was far too large for such a small island. He knew that the consequences would be the needless introduction into the UK of a problem that fortune had mercifully spared these islands.
Years before he had been pointing out the absurd fiction that every person within the British Commonwealth was a British citizen and entitled to hold a British Passport with its right to enter the UK at will. He pleaded in parliament for a British Nationality Act to be passed but was ignored. Had he been listened to then, the huge immigration into the UK that has occurred and which is now so affecting the British peoples view of themselves - could not have taken place.
"People are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles or even desiring troubles:" "If only" they love to think . . . if only people wouldn't talk about it, it probably wouldn't happen".
The statistics in Powell's speeches on immigration were compiled from official and University demographic researches and the figures he quoted in 1968 have all proved to be underestimates.
"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. . . . ."
"If all immigration ended tomorrow, the rate of growth of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population would be substantially reduced, but the prospective size of this element in the population would still leave the basic character of the national danger unaffected".
"Hence the urgency of implementing now the second element of the Conservative Party's policy: the encouragement of re-emigration. Nobody can make an estimate of the numbers which, with generous grants and assistance, would choose either to return to their countries of origin or to go to other countries anxious to receive the manpower and the skills they represent . Nobody knows because no such policy has been attempted "
"ln short, suspension of immigration and encouragement of re-emigration hang together, logically and humanly, as two aspects of the same approach".
Subsequent research by Gallop, and BBC Panorama and others proved all of Mr Powell's contentions to be correct.
All the legislation in place today in respect to immigration and race relations are the product of this one lonely but courageous and gallant politician picking up a political time bomb which no-one else had the courage to go near.
Yet again we have seen the arch appeasers - the Conservative Party - caring more about their parliamentary seats than about the indigenous peoples - or indeed the immigrant's safety and wellbeing.
Powell's opposition to the EEC
Powell was a scholar in many disciplines - not least classical and modern history. Being an academic he never accepted popular theories but studied the root causes of problems. His classical training taught him that in life today there were few circumstances that had not been experienced before and the outcome of those gave him an insight that few others in the House of Commons possessed. Thus it was that Powell was unique as a politician for he taught the electorate - as indeed in the process he taught the members of the House of Commons.
I was frequently annoyed by the inadequate reporting by the Press of Powell's speeches which always appeared not only to be prejudiced (if not downright hostile) but so inadequate as to amount to suppression. So annoyed was I upon one occasion at the failure of The Times to print in full the text of a major speech that I wrote to the paper (with a copy to Mr Powell) in protest. I received no reply from the newspaper but henceforth received from Mr Powell a copy of speeches he was to make a day or two before he made them. It was with immense surprise I discovered the degree of Press suppression that he was subjected to; and on a happier note, the amazing range of subjects that he spoke so elegantly about. I was deeply shocked then - and still am - that such a monopoly over news existed in the UK and that such suppression upon the dissemination of serious political views could happen in England.
Churchill spoke about his hope that to prevent future wars there would be one day a United States of Europe. He did not speak about a single nation called the United 'State' of Europe - or as it is called today the 'European Union' where every country's law would be subservient to the laws formulated and introduced by unelected EU Commissioners and rubber stamped by MEPs. That would have been to him - as it was to Powell - anathema.
Churchill did not say that the UK should be part of it. He said that the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth of Nations must be "the friends and sponsors of the new Europe and must champion its right to live and shine". Upon that concept Powell, like everyone else, had no disagreement and supported the wise European politicians that brought into existence the Council of Europe.
But Powell - like Churchill - would never have dreamt that the British people would in their lifetime surrender their ancestors' hard-won sovereignty let alone agree to be taxed and have their laws passed by any institution other than the House of Commons.
For Powell such a concept was treason for it struck at the heart of our unique monarchy and thus at the very heart of our nationhood.
Powell was a Tory and he knew that such a continental alignment would require political and in the end military subservience to Europeans. Powell foresaw that the Tory instinct at the end of the 20th century would remain as adverse as it was at the beginning of the 18th century. He was proved right by the split within the Tory party which cost them the election.
Powell devoted much thought and time to educating the public. He said:- "my self imposed business in my political life has been telling the English about themselves - who they are and what they are, how they govern themselves, and why they govern themselves in that way".
His unconditional presupposition was identical to Churchill's, ie, that "the Tory Party stood for the absolute independence of the UK: and that in peace as well as in war, this demanded any sacrifice - including life and limb".
With incredulity and angry astonishment he saw the Conservative Party cede the omnicompetance of parliament through Edward Heath's absurd belief "that self government was now obsolete" in order to become a member of the EEC. He stated he would sooner live under a socialist government in Britain rather than see it lose its independence.
He predicted that it was an issue that would destroy the Conservative Party as did Joseph Chamberlain's Home Rule Bill.
That there would be no way of reclaiming that independence once it has gone was something that deeply alarmed him. To Powell the issue was as serious as survival in war.
In 1983 the Labour party was strongly opposed to British membership and had adopted as its policy the renegotiation of the Treaty of Brussels. The terms proposed were tantamount to withdrawal and it offered the public a referendum.
Mr Powell voted in support of the Labour Party's opposition to the EC Bill 104 times and at the election told conservatives to vote Labour. For this he was never forgiven by the Conservative party.
He disagreed so profoundly with the Conservative Party over the issue of the EEC that he felt he could no longer stand as a Conservative MP and astounded everyone - not least his constituents - by announcing he was giving up his parliamentary seat.
Powell the Ulster MP
Powell's rejection of the Tory party's policies on the EEC forced him to leave the party and thus abandon his parliamentary career and seat of 18 years; to the bewilderment of many people.
It is only in recent years that the public have begun to understand and admire him for making what must have been a very distressing and painful moral decision, but such was his integrity that no other decision was possible.
However, to his surprise he was shortly after invited by the Ulster Unionists to join them as MP for South Down. That he should accept astounded many people - they thought he must be mad to give up a safe Tory seat for an Ulster seat.
Powell had supported the Unionists in many a battle in the House of Commons, Unlike the vast majority of members of the two Houses of Parliament he and they knew that the true nature of the civil war raging in Northern Island since 1969 (and before) was a war over nationhood. It was not about Catholics and Protestants and long ago battles, it was simply about the question - who we are.
The majority in Northern Ireland believe they are British - have always believed they were British and wished always to remain British: and as they were in the great majority that wish should not be denied to them.
Powell said that had the British government not pandered to the Dublin and American governments over this issue but made it absolutely clear from 1969 onwards that no change would be contemplated, the terrorists would have realised long ago their cause was hopeless and given up.
Powell argued that by failing to define in law what a British subject of the Crown - or citizen - was, and trying to appease the IRA with "talks" the IRA thought . . "just one more bomb and the Brits will get so fed up they will quit and then we can take over".
The British government analysis has been, and continues to be, a grotesque misjudgment of the situation in Ulster - as time will prove.
Powell knew the only solution to the Ulster problem was - and remains to this day - that the desire of Ulstermen and women to remain British is honoured by military force and for the Irish and American governments to be told firmly that the British government will never change that policy whilst the vast majority of Ulster people wish to remain British.
Powell believed that had the House of Commons recognised that nationhood was the fundamental question at issue in Ulster it would have alerted the British to the whole question of their "nationhood" and why the British Isles was a "United" Kingdom, and the dangers that devolution for Scotland and Wales would inexorably lead to the eventual dissolution of the UK - the monarchy - and England's absorption into the European Union. Such was his panoramic political view.
The Ulster people having lived for years under the threat of absorption into the Irish Republic knew the value of their British nationality - something that Powell knew the British were swiftly losing because of their despair over the failure of all post war governments - especially in respect to immigration.
As he said "to my surprise I found myself an MP again and for probably the most beautiful constituency in the UK and amongst people who knew and valued their nationality and who were never going to give it up however much violence and intimidation they had to endure".
When one thinks of the many car bomb deaths caused by the IRA it was a move of immense courage on the part of the Powell family.
Powell saw in the Ulstermen's cause a direct parallel to the problem that the British were hardly aware they had . . . "Why give up a thousand years of struggle for our self government and discard our independence and submit to laws passed by foreigners?"
Just why should we do it?
Powell's legacy has been to teach the British about themselves - to tear away their self deceptions - both about the past and the present. A disagreeable task for anyone - but one he did with eloquence and elegance, with fine oratory and great parliamentary skill - but above all with stainless integrity.
"If parliamentary self government is the essence of British liberty, the condition upon which we enjoy it is that the UK is politically distinct and separate".
Powell and the Thatcher era.
He was preaching what became known as economic Thatcherism a decade before Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister. All the economic policies she so successfully introduced originated from Powell's teaching. She was seriously remiss in neither acknowledging her debt to him - or offering him high office.
Powell and the House of Commons
Powell, like the 19th century independent MPs, did not require research teams or select committees to root out what was happening. He spurned directorships. He was the only MP who refused to comply with the register of MPs' interests believing that if you were an MP your duty at all times was to behave with honour. With pointed questions and speeches in Parliament - and outside - he showed what a single MP could do. He regarded the role of the MP to force ministers to explain their actions on the floor of the House of Commons and to teach the people. He was a master of parliamentary tactics.
Powell - The Biblical Scholar and man of deep Christian faith.
Powell was an active member of The Church of England.
The power and authority of today's British government over the Ecclesiastical laws of the Church of England appears to many people to be a very strange thing. It was wrested by Parliament from Royalty and the Convocations of Canterbury and York in May 1532 and this was confirmed in the Act for the Submission of the Clergy in 1534.
Thus it is that the laws which govern the Church must be agreed by Parliament and this is why the Church of England is known as the 'Established Church' and the prime minister appoints its bishops.
Parliament does not represent the Church of England, nor is it representative of the members of the Church of England. The Book of Common Prayer and the Articles were given legal force by statutes of 1559 and 1571 respectively.
Nearly four hundred years later in 1919 - by virtue of religious tolerance - Parliament was hardly identifiable with the Church of England, except at Coronations, and was in no way interested - let alone qualified - to undertake the preparation and initiation of ecclesiastical legislation and so it delegated its authority in an Act entitled The Church of England (Powers) Act 1919.
Enoch Powell's eagle eye in all matters Parliamentary, made him spot how in June 1976, Prime Minister Callaghan announced a proposal that amounted to the annulment of the supreme governance of the Church of England by Parliament - without parliament having been consulted.
Today - as the result of a favourable vote in the General Synod at the time - it is treated as having coming into effect. But it has never been passed by the votes of the two House of Parliament.
As Powell points out - "Parliament used to be jealous and in times past it did not take at all kindly to this sort of fait accompli".
The reason for my drawing your attention to this matter is that out of 635 MPs it was only Powell who spotted what had taken place and the true implications; and only Powell who drew from from it the following correct conclusions.
He said "It amounted to the asserting that the royal supremacy in the Church of England - though by law established, can now be repudiated and rendered invalid by a simple statement on the part of the Prime Minister and other politicians; and that in tendering their advice to the Crown on the appointment of Bishops they would limit themselves to persons nominated by an unspecified body in an unspecified manner so that in effect they themselves are not responsible for that advice".
He goes on . . . "that the law of the land can be thus changed by prime ministerial declaration because other party leaders and the General Synod give assent to it, is not a proposition which anyone concerned for the rights and liberties guaranteed to the people of this country by Parliament could for an instant accept"; and further . .
"One disagreeable consequence of legislation put forward to Parliament for its approval by another body (and here he is silently pointing to Brussels) is that Parliament is thereby denied the opportunity to exert its most fruitful legislative activity on behalf of the subject - namely to question and examine in detail each and every separate provision and formulation".
(Out of more than 650 MPs sent an enquiry in 1974, only 334 MPs responded, and of them only 203 claimed to be members of the Church of England)
St Mary's Collegiate Church
An internment Service took place
in St Mary's Collegiate Church
The Royal Warwickshire Regiment
The Royal Warwick Regimental Cemetery
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