Enoch Powell: Life and Views

Rt. Hon. John Enoch Powell, MBE (1912–1998) Classical scholar, poet, brigadier and politician. Conservative (1950–1974) and Ulster Unionist (1974–1987) MP. Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Local Government (1955–1957), Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1957–1958), Minister of Health (1960–1963). Upholder of free market economics and the first British politician to advocate monetarism. Renowned parlamentarian, leading anti-immigration campaigner and pre-eminent Eurosceptic.




I was born a Tory. Define: a Tory is a person who regards authority as immanent in institutions. I had always been, as far back as I could remember in my existence, a respecter of institutions, a respecter of monarchy, a respecter of the deposit of history, a respecter of everything in which authority was capable of being embodied, and that must surely be what the Conservative Party was about, the Conservative Party as the party of the maintenance of acknowledged prescriptive authority.

(Enoch Powell, Cambridge, 1990)

From boyhood I have been devoted to the study of that Greek and Roman inheritance, which in varying measure is common to all that is Europe, and not only ‘Europe’ of the six or eight or ten but Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals – and beyond. I also claim that reverent enthusiasm for the history of my own country which commands an equal reverence for the past that has formed everything else which is European. The truest European, in my opinion, is the man who is most humbly conscious of the vast demands which comprehension of, even a little part of this Europe imposes upon those who seek it; for the deeper we penetrate, the more the marvellous differentiation of human society within this single continent evokes our wonder. The very use of the word ‘Europe’ in expressions like ‘European unity’, ‘going into Europe’, ‘Europe’s role in the world’ is a solecism which grates upon the ear of all true Europeans: only Americans can be excused for using it.

(Enoch Powell, Lyons, 1971)

Too often today people are ready to tell us: ‘This is not possible, that is not possible.’ I say: whatever the true interest of our country calls for is always possible. We have nothing to fear but our own doubts.

(Enoch Powell, Conservative Party conference, 1968)

The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature. One is that by the very order of things such evils are not demonstrable until they have occurred: at each stage in their onset there is room for doubt and for dispute whether they be real or imaginary. By the same token, they attract little attention in comparison with current troubles, which are both indisputable and pressing. Hence the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future. Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: ‘if only’, they love to think, ‘if only people wouldn’t talk about it, it probably wouldn’t happen’. Perhaps this habit goes back to the primitive belief that the word and the thing, the name and the object, are identical. At all events, the discussion of future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils is the most unpopular and at the same time the most necessary occupation for the politician. Those who knowingly shirk it, deserve, and not infrequently receive, the curses of those who come after.

(Enoch Powell, Birmingham, 1968)



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