Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech ‘proved right,’ claims Hamilton
WELSH Ukip leader Neil Hamilton has come under fire for saying that Enoch Powell has been “proved right by events” five decades after his infamous “rivers of blood” speech.
Mr Hamilton said that the “idea that Enoch Powell was some kind of uniquely racist villain” was “absolute nonsense”. He claimed Powell was “wasn’t a racist in the crude sense”.
The speech by the then-Conservative MP is considered one of the most controversial made in post-war Britain. In it he recounted how a constituent warned that the “black man will have the whip hand over the white man”.
Raising the spectre of racial violence, Powell said: “As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the
River Tiber foaming with much blood.’”
Mid and West Wales AM Mr Hamilton said Powell had been “proved right by events” – not in terms of violence but in the scale of social transformation as a result of immigration.
He said: “I think he’s been proved right by events. I don’t think he was right in one sense – we have not seen the kind of racial violence and intolerance generated by this that at the time was happening in the United States. Remember, in the spring of 1968, this was in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King in America; there had been terrible race riots in Chicago and other cities in the United States in which cities had been set alight.
“We do have particular problems with Islamic terrorism, of course, and there have been other isolated incidents over the years of racially inspired violence and not just racially inspired violence caused by whites against blacks. But on the whole Britain is an amazingly tolerant country but I do think the kind of social changes which mass immigration has brought were never desired by the majority of the British public – indeed, they’d never been asked, ‘Do you want to transform your country?’ in the way that has happened.”
Describing the changes in the UK, he said: “We’ve seen massive changes in the cities of England. We haven’t seen such changes in Wales but in the great cities of England we’ve seen them utterly transformed.
“The whole point of Enoch’s speech was to warn that if immigration continued on the scale it was being experienced then that the populations of people coming from abroad could not be absorbed and integrated and that’s exactly what has happened. We have a series of monocultures existing side by side with one another; we haven’t got true integration of different races and population groups in this country – they live side by side and live in different cultural circumstances very largely.” Defending Powell against charges of racism, he said: “Those who are professional grudge merchants and those who positively want to see the country transformed by mass immigration do call people like Enoch and me racist.”
Pointing to Powell’s life story, he said: “He was certainly no racist. Enoch Powell was a qualified interpreter in Urdu.
“He devoted a great part of his life to the study of the different cultures of India.
“He went into politics in the first place because of Indian independence because he wanted to keep India within the empire, not for reasons of wanting Britain to rule it but because he believed that the empire was a great force of good for the world and he believed that people should be brought together by it.”
However, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood attacked Mr Hamilton for his remarks. She said: “If anyone was in any doubt that Ukip are ideologically far right, listen again to their Assembly leader justifying Enoch Powell’s racist speech... Ukip are keeping Powell’s racist rhetoric going.”
Jane Dodds, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said Mr Hamilton’s remarks were “utterly despicable”.
She added: “Powell was a racist, plain and simple. To hear someone trying to defend and justify his racist views shows how delusional and out of touch Ukip really are.”
Matt Greenough, a senior special adviser to the Welsh Government, on a personal Twitter account, described Powell’s speech as “evil”.
He said: “An evil speech which was this morning defended without qualification by a serving politician in the National Assembly for Wales.”
> Neil Hamilton AM
> Enoch Powell