Enoch at 100

Enoch at 100 - Lord Howard of Rising

Enoch Powell is obviously synonymous with his 'Rivers of Blood' speech and remembered today for little else, but this is a shame. Powell was one of those rare beasts in politics, like Micheal Foot, an Intelligent, articulate, steadfast advocate of his political stance.

 

Powell believed that Parliament (and the House of Commons specifically) should have primacy over the government - holding the executive to account and ensuring only legislation that is willed by the people (thought their elected MPs) is made into law.

 

As such he was passionately anti-EEC (because of the transference of sovereignty), anti-Lords reform (as an elected 2nd chamber could usurp the commons) and pro union (he spent the last few years of his political life as a Unionist MP during the bleakest times in Northern Ireland).

 

Powell argued for Monetarism 20 years before Margaret Thatcher implemented it, argued for dis-engagement from the 'East of Suez' foreign policy (where America and it's Allies interfere in countries east of Suez), and shamed the British into doing something about the mistreatment of Kenyans in the Hola camp. 

 

He detested Ted Heath, as the man who took the UK into Europe, and the Americans, because they were, in his view, completely untrustworthy.

 

Yes, he also made a speech in 1968, which effectively ended his mainstream political career (Heath also detested Powell, so this was a good reason to get rid of him). 

 

Even with the unfortunate use of language, as this book shows, Powell's analysis was normally spot on - all his predictions are pretty much as things have turned out 40 years on. (Incidentally it is interesting to note that the things we argue about in politics today are pretty much what politicians were arguing about in the 50s, 60s, and 70s too - progress eh?). 

 

I addition to the politics, there is also a nice interlude written by Anne Robinson about her experience with Powell, a chapter about his time as a classics professor, some of his poetry (meh) and an interview with his surviving wife.

 

For me the only fly in the ointment is the chapter by Richard Richie - a former associate, talking about the Environment and energy police. He seems throughout to be putting words into Powell's mouth and assuming he knows what the man himself would think about Climate Change, despite it never having being riased during Powell's political career - the constant mentioning of the 'science' of climate change (e.g. with the quotes) also causes alarm bells - and sure enough a quick check shows that Richard Richie, up until recently worked for BP. Always check your references - especially when they are politicizing through history.

 

Overall though a very interesting book about a fascinating man. Rivers of Blood aside, it is a shame that there are not more  politicians who actually have arguments to back up their assertions, and who, when it comes to it, are willing to act on principle (e.g. resign if they don't believe in what their party or government are doing - Powell did both - even suggesting that his local constituents 'Vote Labour' in the 1974 election...)