Pow­ell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech ‘proved right,’ claims Hamil­ton

Western Mail - - NEWS - DAVID WILLIAMSON Po­lit­i­cal edi­tor david.williamson@waleson­line.co.uk

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

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