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 Post subject: Rivers of Blood
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:45 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Victoria
On 20 April 1968 Conservative MP Enoch Powell delivered one of the most inflammatory and most famous speeches in British political history. Against the background of the race riots in the United States following the assassination of Martin Luther King and a debate in the U.K. over a proposed racial discrimination bill, he informed a meeting of the West Midlands Area Conservative Political Centre in Birmingham that continuing high levels of non-white immigration into Britain would lead to social disorder.

Powell was not an easy man to ignore. An accomplished classical scholar who could speak thirteen languages, he had been the youngest full professor in the British Empire and one of the youngest Brigadiers in the British Army during the Second World War. As Minister for Health from 1960 to 1963 and Shadow Defence Secretary following the Conservative defeat in 1963, he was one of the highest-profile MPs in the party. At the end of the speech, he quotes the Aenid, referring to “the Tiber foaming with much blood”. This line gave the speech its name.

Conservative leader Edward Heath sacked Powell from the Shadow Cabinet and he would never again hold office in either Government or Opposition. But thanks in no small part to Powell’s excellent command of English and vivid imagery, the speech has stayed.

As this weekend has marked the fiftieth anniversary of the speech, it’s attracted a lot of commentary in the media. BBC Radio 4 had Ian MacDiarmid read the speech in full, interspersed with commentary (MacDiarmid has previously played Powell on stage). Unsurprisingly, the BBC’s decision to air the speech has drawn much criticism, with calls to stop rebroadcasting the speech and have it buried.

It’s been interesting to compare the commentary this year with the debate in the media around the fortieth anniversary in 2008. This BBC documentary, for example, which brings together the recorded fragments of the speech. Then, in the wake of the 2005 terror attacks, the BBC openly asked ‘Was Enoch right?’. Now, in the environment of 2018, the question seems to be ‘Should we still pay attention to Enoch?’.



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 Post subject: Re: Rivers of Blood
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 7:27 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:23 am
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It's a very interesting question. I took the time to read through the speech several times lately.


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