Enoch Powell

From Quotes
What life means to us is determined, not so much by what life brings to us as by the attitude we bring to life; not so much by what happens to us as by our reaction to what happens.
Lewis L Dunnington
Jump to: navigation, search
Values exist in a transcendental realm, beyond space and time. They can neither be fought for, nor destroyed.

John Enoch Powell (1912-06-16 - 1998-02-08) was a British politician and Conservative Party MP between 1950 and February 1974, and an Ulster Unionist MP between October 1974 and 1987.


  • The thought struck me for the first time today that our duty to our country may not terminate with the peace – apart, I mean, from the duty of begetting children to bear arms for the King in the next generation. To be more explicit, I see growing on the horizon the greater peril than Germany or Japan ever were; and if the present hostilities do not actually merge into a war with our terrible enemy, America, it will remain for those of us who have the necessary knowledge and insight to do what we can where we can to help Britain be victorious again in her next crisis.
    • Letter to his parents (16 February, 1943), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 75.
  • I believe a second factor which has weighed heavily in this matter is the attitude, or supposed attitude, of the United States. I confess that I am not greatly moved by this. Whatever may be the attitude of the American Government and public to the United Kingdom as such, my view of American policy over the last decade has been that it has been steadily and relentlessly directed towards the weakening and the destruction of the links which bind the British Empire together. [Cyril Osborne: "No!"] We can watch the events as they unfold and place our own interpretation on them. My interpretation is that the United States has for this country, considered separately, a very considerable economic and strategic use but that she sees little or no strategic use or economic value in the British Empire or the British Commonwealth as it has existed and as it still exists. Against the background I ask the House to consider the evidence of advancing American imperialism in this area from which they are helping to eliminate us.
    • Speech on the British evacuation of the Suez Canal, 1953 (Hansard, 520:347-8.), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 188.
  • It is no accident that the Labour Party of 1964 should share this craving for autarchy, for economic self-sufficiency, with the pre-war Fascist régimes and the present-day Communist states. They are all at heart totalitarian.
    • Speech to the Dulwich Conservative Association (29 February, 1964), from A Nation Not Afraid. The Thinking of Enoch Powell (B. T. Batsford Ltd, 1965), p. 75.
  • In the end, the Labour party could cease to represent labour. Stranger historic ironies have happened than that.
    • Article for The Sunday Telegraph, citing the swing to the Conservatives in his constituency and others with large working-class electorates (18 October, 1964), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 364.
  • It is advertising that enthrones the customer as king. This infuriates the socialist...[it is] the crossing of the boundary between West Berlin and East Berlin. It is Checkpoint Charlie, or rather Checkpoint Douglas, the transition from the world of choice and freedom to the world of drab, standard uniformity.
    • Attacking the Labour President of the Board of Trade, Douglas Jay, who wanted to standardise packaging for detergents. (The Daily Telegraph 29 April, 1967); from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 430.
  • All government rests upon consent, and consent is not be be had without taking counsel with the most eminent or influential or representative of the governed, and seeking their advice: the act of taking counsel cannot be separated from the act of exercising authority. All government rests also upon upon habit, upon being exercised in the same way or a similar way to that in which the governed remember or believe that it was exercised before. Brute force can break with habit; but as soon as brute force begins to turn into government, it does so by starting to observe habitual modes of behaviour. Habitual forms or institutions for counsel and consent are thus of the essence of government.
    • Introduction to his book The House of Lords in the Middle Ages (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1968), p. xi.
  • Yes, I am a virus. I am the virus that kills socialists.
    • Replying to Harold Wilson's conference speech where he attacked "the virus of Powellism" (1 October, 1968).
  • As so often, the ordinary rank and file of the electorate have seen a truth, an important fact, which has escaped so many more clever people — the underlying value of that which is traditional, that which is prescriptive.
    • Speech to the House of Commons regarding proposals for reforming the House of Lords on 19 November, 1968 (Hansard, 773:1168), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 497.
  • It depends on how you define the word "racialist." If you mean being conscious of the differences between men and nations, and from that, races, then we are all racialists. However, if you mean a man who despises a human being because he belongs to another race, or a man who believes that one race is inherently superior to another, then the answer is emphatically "No."
    • When asked by David Frost if he was a racialist (3 January, 1969), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 504.
  • Compassion is something individual and voluntary. You cannot compel somebody to be compassionate; nor can you be vicariously compassionate by compelling somebody else. The Good Samaritan would have lost all merit if a Roman soldier were standing by the road with a drawn sword, telling him to get on with it and look after the injured stranger. Because there can be no such thing as compulsory compassion or vicarious compassion, therefore it is a humbugging abuse of language, intended to deceive, to talk about a 'compassionate Government' or a 'compassionate party' — or even a 'compassionate society', unless one simply means by that a society which happens to contain a lot of compassionate individuals. Nor let anyone protest: 'Oh, but when I vote for a party which will "make provision on an unprecedented scale for those in need of help", it means I too shall have to pay my whack and so I am being compassionate after all'. Nonsense! The purpose of your vote is not to make yourself subscribe — that you can freely do at any time — but to compel others.
    • Speech to the Harborough Division Conservative Association Gala, Leicester (27 September, 1969), from Still to Decide (Elliot Right Way Books, 1972), pp. 22-3.
  • It is of the nature of all internecine violence that it lives on hope. Violence feeds upon the hope of success... violence will not continue indefinitely where the objects which it proposes to itself appear to be unattainable, or at any rate unattainable within a predictable future. The Government in Northern Ireland and the Government in this country actually assist violence and strengthen it in so far as they appear to act and appear to reform under the pressure of violence...[The Government should ensure that] neither by word nor deed do we treat the membership of the Six Counties in the United Kingdom as negotiable. Every word or act which holds out the prospect that their unity with the rest of the United Kingdom might be negotiable is itself, consciously or unconsciously, a contributory cause to the continuation of violence in Northern Ireland.
    • Speech in the Commons, 7 April, 1970 (Hansard, 799:290-1), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 551.
  • All that I will say is that in 1939 I voluntarily returned from Australia to this country to serve as a private soldier in the war against Germany and Nazism. I am the same man today... It does not follow that because a person resident in this country is not English that he does not enjoy equal treatment before the law and public authorities. I set my face like flint against discrimination.
    • Reacting to Tony Benn's speech that "the flag hoisted at Wolverhampton [Powell's constituency] is beginning to look like the one that fluttered over Dachau and Belsen" (3 June, 1970.), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 556.
  • Some of us personally witnessed what was done on the continent under that sign and it is a symbol we shall never forget.
    • Reacting to a youth who had given the Hitler salute; from a speech in Wolverhampton (6 June, 1970), quoted in Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 558.
  • Have you ever wondered, perhaps, why opinions which the majority of people quite naturally hold are, if anyone dares express them publicly, denounced as 'controversial, 'extremist', 'explosive', 'disgraceful', and overwhelmed with a violence and venom quite unknown to debate on mere political issues? It is because the whole power of the aggressor depends upon preventing people from seeing what is happening and from saying what they see.
    The most perfect, and the most dangerous, example of this process is the subject miscalled, and deliberately miscalled, 'race'. The people of this country are told that they must feel neither alarm nor objection to a West Indian, African and Asian population which will rise to several millions being introduced into this country. If they do, they are 'prejudiced', 'racialist'... A current situation, and a future prospect, which only a few years ago would have appeared to everyone not merely intolerable but frankly incredible, has to be represented as if welcomed by all rational and right-thinking people. The public are literally made to say that black is white. Newspapers like the Sunday Times denounce it as 'spouting the fantasies of racial purity' to say that a child born of English parents in Peking is not Chinese but English, or that a child born of Indian parents in Birmingham is not English but Indian. It is even heresy too assert the plain fact that the English are a white nation. Whether those who take part know it or not, this process of brainwashing by repetition of manifest absurdities is a sinister and deadly weapon. In the end, it renders the majority, who are marked down to be the victims of violence or revolution or tyranny, incapable of self-defence by depriving them of their wits and convincing them that what they thought was right is wrong. The process has already gone perilously far, when political parties at a general election dare not discuss a subject which results from and depends on political action and which for millions of electors transcends all others in importance; or when party leaders can be mesmerised into accepting from the enemy the slogans of 'racialist' and 'unChristian' and applying them to lifelong political colleagues...
    In the universities, we are told that education and the discipline ought to be determined by the students, and that the representatives of the students ought effectively to manage the institutions. This is nonsense — manifest, arrant nonsense; but it is nonsense which it is already obligatory for academics and journalists, politicians and parties, to accept and mouth upon pain of verbal denunciation and physical duress.
    We are told that the economic achievement of the Western countries has been at the expense of the rest of the world and has impoverished them, so that what are called the 'developed' countries owe a duty to hand over tax-produced 'aid' to the governments of the undeveloped countries. It is nonsense — manifest, arrant nonsense; but it is nonsense with which the people of the Western countries, clergy and laity, but clergy especially — have been so deluged and saturated that in the end they feel ashamed of what the brains and energy of Western mankind have done, and sink on their knees to apologise for being civilised and ask to be insulted and humiliated.
    Then there is the 'civil rights' nonsense. In Ulster we are told that the deliberate destruction by fire and riot of areas of ordinary property is due to the dissatisfaction over allocation of council houses and opportunities for employment. It is nonsense — manifest, arrant nonsense; but that has not prevented the Parliament and government of the United Kingdom from undermining the morale of civil government in Northern Ireland by imputing to it the blame for anarchy and violence.
    Most cynically of all, we are told, and told by bishops forsooth, that communist countries are the upholders of human rights and guardians of individual liberty, but that large numbers of people in this country would be outraged by the spectacle of cricket matches being played here against South Africans. It is nonsense—manifest, arrant nonsense; but that did not prevent a British Prime Minister and a British Home Secretary from adopting it as acknowledged fact.
    • The "enemy within" speech during the 1970 general election campaign; speech to the Turves Green Girls School, Northfield, Birmingham (13 June, 1970), from Still to Decide (Eliot Right Way Books, 1972), pp. 36-37.
  • A single currency means a single government, and that single government would be the government whose policies determined every aspect of economic life.
    • Speech in Tamworth (15 June, 1970), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 563.
  • One of the most dangerous words is 'extremist'. A person who commits acts of violence is not an 'extremist'; he is a criminal. If he commits those acts of violence with the object of detaching part of the territory of the United Kingdom and attaching it to a foreign country, he is an enemy under arms. There is the world of difference between a citizen who commits a crime, in the belief, however mistaken, that he is thereby helping to preserve the integrity of his country and his right to remain a subject of his sovereign, and a person, be he citizen or alien, who commits a crime with the intention of destroying that integrity and rendering impossible that allegiance. The former breaches the peace; the latter is executing an act of war. The use of the word 'extremist' of either or both conveys a dangerous untruth: it implies that both hold acceptable opinions and seek permissible ends, only that they carry them to 'extremes'. Not so: the one is a lawbreaker; the other is an enemy.
    • Speech to the South Buckinghamshire Conservative Women's Annual Luncheon (Beaconsfield, 19 March 1971).
  • The same purpose, that of rendering friend and foe indistinguishable, is achieved by references to the 'impartiality' of the British troops and to their function as 'keeping the peace'. The British forces are in Northern Ireland because an avowed enemy is using force of arms to break down lawful authority in the province and thereby seize control. The army cannot be 'impartial' towards an enemy, nor between the aggressor and the aggressed: they are not glorified policemen, restraining two sets of citizens who might otherwise do one another harm, and duty bound to show no 'partiality' towards one lawbreaker rather than another. They are engaged in defeating an armed attack upon the state. Once again, the terminology is designed to obliterate the vital difference between friend and enemy, loyal and disloyal.
    • Speech to the South Buckinghamshire Conservative Women's Annual Luncheon (Beaconsfield, 19 March 1971).
  • Then there are the 'no-go' areas which have existed for the past eighteen months. It would be incredible, if it had not actually happened, that for a year and a half there should be areas in the United Kingdom where the Queen's writ does not run and where the citizen is protected, if protected at all, by persons and powers unknown to the law. If these areas were described as what they are — namely, pockets of territory occupied by the enemy, as surely as if they had been captured and held by parachute troops — then perhaps it would be realised how preposterous is the situation. In fact the policy of refraining from the re-establishment of civil government in these areas is as wise as it would be to leave enemy posts undisturbed behind one's lines.
    • Speech to the South Buckinghamshire Conservative Women's Annual Luncheon (Beaconsfield, 19 March 1971).
  • The prospect of a Russian conquest of Western Europe is one for which history affords no material. The theory that the Russians have not advanced from the Elbe to the Atlantic because of the nuclear deterrent is not more convincing than the theory that they have not done so because they do not want to do so and have never envisaged, unless perhaps in terms of world revolution, a Russian hegemony in Western Europe... Of all the nations of Europe, Britain and Russia are the only ones, though for opposite reasons, which have this thing in common: that they can be defeated in the decisive land battle and still survive. This characteristic, which Russia owes to her immensity, Britain owes to her moat.
    • Speech to The Hague (17 May, 1971), from The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (Elliot Right Way Books, 1973), p. 97, p. 100.
  • Virtually the entire inflow was therefore Asiatic, and all but three or four thousand of that inflow originated from the Indian subcontinent... It is by 'black Power' that the headlines are caught, and under the shape of the negro that the consequences for Britain of immigration and what is miscalled 'race' are popularly depicted. Yet it is more truly when he looks into the eyes of Asia that the Englishman comes face to face with those who will dispute with him the possession of his native land.
    • Speech to the Southall Chamber of Commerce, Centre Airport Hotel, Middlesex (4 November, 1971), from Still to Decide (Eliot Right Way Books, 1972), p. 209.
  • The relevant fact about the history of the British Isles and above all of England is its separateness in a political sense from the history of continental Europe. The English have never belonged to it and have always known that they did not belong. The assertion contains no element of paradox. The Angevin Empire contradicts it as little as the English claim to the throne of France; neither the possession of Gascony nor the inheritance of Hanover made Edward I or George III anything but English sovereigns. When Henry VIII declared that 'this realm of England is an empire (imperium) of itself', he was making not a new claim but a very old one; but he was making it at a very significant point of time. He meant — as Edward I had meant, when he said the same over two hundred years before — that there is an imperium on the continent, but that England is another imperium outside its orbit and is endowed with the plenitude of its own sovereignty. The moment at which Henry VIII repeated this assertion was that of what is misleadingly called 'the reformation' — misleadingly, because it was, and is, essentially a political and not a religious event. The whole subsequent history of Britain and the political character of the British people have taken their colour and trace their unique quality from that moment and that assertion. It was the final decision that no authority, no law, no court outside the realm would be recognized within the realm. When Cardinal Wolsey fell, the last attempt had failed to bring or keep the English nation within the ambit of any external jurisdiction or political power: since then no law has been for England outside England, and no taxation has been levied in England by or for an authority outside England — or not at least until the proposition that Britain should accede to the Common Market.
    • Speech to The Lions' Club, Brussels (24 January, 1972), from The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (Elliot Right Way Books, 1973), pp. 49-50.
  • The Bill... does manifest some of the major consequences. It shows first that it is an inherent consequence of accession to the Treaty of Rome that this House and Parliament will lose their legislative supremacy. It will no longer be true that law in this country is made only by or with the authority of Parliament... The second consequence... is that this House loses its exclusive control — upon which its power and authority has been built over the centuries — over taxation and expenditure. In future, if we become part of the Community, moneys received in taxation from the citizens of this country will be spent otherwise than upon a vote of this House and without the opportunity...to debate grievance and to call for an account of the way in which those moneys are to be spent. For the first time for centuries it will be true to say that the people of this country are not taxed only upon the authority of the House of Commons. The third consequence which is manifest on the face of the Bill, in Clause 3 among other places, is that the judicial independence of this country has to be given up. In future, if we join the Community, the citizens of this country will not only be subject to laws made elsewhere but the applicability of those laws to them will be adjudicated upon elsewhere; and the law made elsewhere and the adjudication elsewhere will override the law which is made here and the decisions of the courts of this realm.
    • Speech on Second Reading on the European Communities Bill in the House of Commons, 17th February 1972.
  • The House of Commons is at this moment being asked to agree to the renunciation of its own independence and supreme authority — but not the House of Commons by itself. The House of Commons is the personification of the people of Britain: its independence is synonymous with their independence; its supremacy is synonymous with their self-government and freedom. Through the centuries Britain has created the House of Commons and the House of Commons has moulded Britain, until the history of the one and the life of the one cannot be separated from the history and life of the other. In no other nation in the world is there any comparable relationship. Let no one therefore allow himself to suppose that the life-and-death decision of the House of Commons is some private affair of some privileged institution which at intervals swims into his ken and out of it again. It is the life-and-death decision of Britain itself, as a free, independent and self-governing nation. For weeks, for months the battle on the floor of the House of Commons will swing backwards and forwards, through interminable hours of debates and procedures and votes in the division lobbies; and sure enough the enemies and despisers of the House of Commons will represent it all as some esoteric game or charade which means nothing for the outside world. Do not be deceived. With other weapons and in other ways the contention is as surely about the future of Britain's nationhood as were the combats which raged in the skies over southern England in the autumn of 1940. The gladiators are few; their weapons are but words; and yet the fight is everyman's.
    • Speech at Newton, Montgomeryshire (4 March, 1972), from The Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (Elliot Right Way Books, 1973), pp. 57-8.
  • Independence, the freedom of a self-governing nation, is in my estimation the highest political good, for which any disadvantage, if need be, and any sacrifice are a cheap price.
    • Speech at Stockport (8 June, 1973), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 661.
  • Judas was paid! Judas was paid! I am making a sacrifice!
    • Powell reacting to a heckler's cry of "Judas!" in a speech in Shipley where he told the audience to vote Labour (25 February, 1974).
  • I do not know if the doctrine that the nation-state arose in the 19th century was still being taught... but it is erroneous. The nation-state reaches back far into the origins of Europe itself and perhaps beyond. If Europe was not always a Europe of nations, it was always a Europe in which nations existed, and were taken for granted, as a basic form of the State.
    • The Daily Telegraph (9 June, 1975), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), p. 144.
  • I do not believe that the loyalty of those many who over those 270 years, and particularly in this century, worked together and died together as part of the union under the Crown, was to the Crown quite simply, even though they wore the Crown on their uniforms and many of them wore it on their hearts. They were not the mercenaries of a Habsburg empire bound together by personal union and dynastic marriages; they were not the servants of a Hohenzollern empire imposed by military force. It was the Crown of the United Kingdom in parliament which was the centre of loyalty, as it is the essential unifying element of this realm, in the name of which and under the inspiration of which mean and women these 270 years have worked and lived and died together.
    • Speech in the House of Commons against devolution to Scotland, January 1976. (Hansard, 903:1006.), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 768.
  • Yet even though that picture is dark and darkening, there is one factor which has not yet been injected. I do not know whether it will be tomorrow, or next year, or in five years; but it will come. That factor is firearms and explosives. With communities which are so divided nothing can prevent the injection of explosives which we know perfectly well from experience in other parts of the United Kingdom and the world. At first there will be horrified astonishment, and inquiry as to what we have done wrong that such things should be happening. Then there will be feverish endeavour to find methods to allay the supposed grievances which lie behind the violence. Then follows exploitation by those who use violence of the ascendancy they have thus gained over the majority and over authority. The thing goes forward, acting and reacting, until a position is reached in which — I shall dare say it — compared with those areas, Belfast today will seem an enviable place.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the consequences of immigration (24 May, 1976), from A Nation or No Nation? Six Years in British Politics (Elliot Right Way Books, 1977), p. 161.
  • There is a peculiar atmosphere in the Committee this afternoon that I do not think that I am the only one to have sensed. It is not an agreeable atmosphere; it is an atmosphere of a certain embarrassment, or even suppressed tension. For a time I was striving to locate the parallel atmosphere of which I was being reminded. Then, suddenly, it occurred to me what it was. It is an atmosphere that will be familiar to nearly all hon. Members who have suffered a near and severe bereavement. We are in the circumstances of a household, between a decease and a funeral when the body is still in the house.
    • Hansard HC 5ser vol 926 cols 1690-1, speech in the House of Commons on the Scotland and Wales Bill (24 February 1977). Two days previously a guillotine motion for the Bill had been defeated and it was generally accepted that there was no chance of the Bill being passed that session.
  • All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.
    • Enoch Powell, Joseph Chamberlain (Thames and Hudson, 1977), p. 151.
  • It is one of history's most mocking ironies that the German customs union, which set out to dominate Europe and conquer Britain in the form of Bismarckian or Hitlerian military force, has at last vanquished the victor by drawing Britain into a Zollverein which comprises Western Europe and aspires to comprise the Mediterranean as well. If the ghosts of the Hohenzollerns come back to haunt this planet, they must find a lot to laugh at.
    • Speech in Grimsby (20 May, 1977), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), p. 93.
  • Of course I am very proud of being a Tory. Yes, in my head and in my heart I regard myself as a Tory. As I have said, I was born that way; I believe it is congenital. I am unable to change it. That is how I see the world... [The EEC] is the most un-Tory thing that can be conceived.
    • Interview by Brian Walden (29 January, 1978), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 800.
  • Might I indicate the difficulty which some of us feel over collective compassion? The good Samaritan had compassion. If two good Samaritans had compassion, that would still be individual compassion, not collective compassion. If the good Samaritan had been obliged by decree of the Roman Emperor to assist the traveller, that would not be compassion at all, because it would be done under obligation.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, 1979 (Hansard, 967:963), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 824.
  • [I part company with Labour only] because of my blind, high Tory ultimate faith in the people. If they are the people I thought and still want to think that they are, those who represent them will assuredly be pulled back in time from the betrayal of their birthright of parliamentary freedom either to a European state or to a Marxist bureaucracy.
    • The Daily Telegraph (14 September, 1980), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 840.
  • The nation state is the product of that logic. In England... it was worked out to its final conclusion at the Henrician reformation, the event by which the English nation state was fully realized. All exertion of authority, whether the making or the enforcement of law, the taking of collective decisions of an executive (i.e. not legislable) character, the imposition and collection of taxes, the judgment of causes — in short, all duress brought to bear by the society upon the individual — proceeds from one source, and that source an internal and native one. The England of Henry VIII found it impossible that its laws should be made, that its causes should be judged, or that a revenue should be procured from it by an external authority. In other words, there was no such thing as external authority: the expression was a contradiction in terms... There is a name for appealing over the head of the Crown to an authority outside the realm, and that name is treason. The word may be disused, but the thing is not; and the penalties of praemunire, which those guilty of it formerly incurred, were not disproportionate to its seriousness.
    • Speech in Lancaster (8 November, 1980), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), p. 59, p. 61.
  • If you want to know what the SDP is about, look at its morning star, Roy Jenkins, the greatest Euro-bureaucrat of them all, a man who would never put up with anything British if he could find something foreign to embrace instead. The SDP is the extreme pro-European party, whose one common characteristic and undisputed stance is devotion to the destruction of Britain's parliamentary independence. Anyone who thinks that a bit rough should be aware that one of the SDP's proposals is to take away even the scrutiny, let alone control, of European legislation from the House of Commons and give it to the Assembly at Strasbourg.
    • Speech in Gloucester (30 September, 1981), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), p. 91.
  • If, on the other hand, the Conservative party invites the electorate to link national independence in its mind with Bennery and all things 'left' and to discern in membership of the Community a bulwark against the dangers of socialism, the implications are still more disreputable; for this is nothing other than saying that one would rather live under the tutelage of foreigners than incur the risk of one's fellow countrymen being free to make up their own minds. That would be to stamp the Conservative party as a class party with a vengeance, a slur the more damaging because there were in fact, at the time of the original debates, Conservatives inside and outside Parliament who did advocate membership on precisely that ground — blood brothers, no doubt, of those who in an earlier generation viewed the rise of Hitler with equanimity or approval as a safeguard against Communism.
    • Speech to the Conservative Party conference at Blackpool (14 October, 1981), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), p. 127.
  • We were dragged into folly by the Americans over Iran. We were dragged into folly by the Americans over Afghanistan. Neither national interest nor moral obligation requires us to be dragged by them into folly over Poland.
    • The Times (8 January, 1982), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), pp. 852-3.
  • Yet we slink about like whipped curs... our self-abasement principally takes the form of subservience to the United States... we are under no necessity to participate in the American nightmare of a Soviet monster barely held at bay in all quarters of the globe by an inconceivable nuclear armament and by political intervention everywhere from Poland to Cambodia. It is the Americans who need us in order to act out their crazy scenario... We simply do not need to go chasing up and down after the vagaries of the next ignoramus to become President of the United States.
    • The Sunday Express (4 February, 1982), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 853.
  • I would sooner receive injustice in the Queen's courts than justice in a foreign court. I hold that man or woman to be a scoundrel who goes abroad to a foreign court to have the judgments of the Queen's courts overturned, the actions of her Government countermanded or the legislation of Parliament struck down.
    • Speech in Ilford (13 March, 1982), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 853.
  • I refer to the misunderstanding of Soviet Russia as an aggressive power, militaristically and ideologically bent upon world domination — seeing', to quote a recent speech of the British Prime Minister, 'the rest of the world as its rightful fiefdom.' How any rational person, viewing objectively the history of the last thirty-five years, could entertain this 'international misunderstanding' challenges, if it does not defeat, comprehension. The notion has no basis in fact... If Russia is bent on world conquest, she has been remarkably slothful and remarkably unsuccessful.
    • Speech at Torquay (7 October, 1983), from George R. Urban, Diplomacy and Disillusion at the Court of Margaret Thatcher. An Insider's View (I.B. Tauris, 1996), p. 60.
  • I don't think that would be entirely unfair. There are some things which get on one's nerves and some things that don't. And I'm, to use a rather journalistic word, allergic to the things that are typically American. I think that's fairly natural to someone who has just been described as a Tory and is always ready to describe himself as a High Tory.
    • When asked if he was 'anti-American' (Face the Press, Channel 4 TV, 9 October, 1983).
  • At the invitation of Her Majesty's Government, the United States is about to station on the soil of the United Kingdom nuclear weapons which, we are told, will be used only after consultation and by joint decision with Her Majesty's Government. Anyone who, after the experience of the last few days and of recent years, imagines that the United States will defer to the views of the Government of this country is living in a dangerous fool's paradise. Anyone in office who entertains that illusion is in no position to serve the security of this country.
    • Speech to the House of Commons during the debate on the American invasion of Grenada (26 October, 1983, Hansard, 47:308), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), pp. 879-80.
  • I should like to have been killed in the war.
    • Answer to the question "How would you like to be remembered?" by Anne Brown in a radio interview on 13 April 1986; from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 901.
  • England is the country of the English... England is the stage on which the drama of English history was played and the setting within which the English became conscious of themselves as a people... when politicians and preachers attempt to frighten and cajole the English into pretending away the distinction between themselves and people of other nations and other origins, they are engaged in undermining the foundation upon which democratic government by consent and peaceable civilised society in this country are supported...those who at the end of the twentieth century wish to keep alive that consciousness of being English, which seemed so effortless and uncontroversial to our forefathers, will discover that they are called upon, if they take their purpose seriously, to confront the most arrogant and imposing prejudices of their time.
  • The safety of this island nation reposes upon two pillars. The first is the impregnability of its homeland to invasion by air or sea. The second is its ability and its will to create over time the military forces by which the last conclusive battle will be decided. Without our own industrial base of military armament production neither of those pillars will stand. No doubt, with the oceans kept open, we can look to buy or borrow from the other continents; but to depend on the continent of Europe for our arms is suicide.
    • Speech to the Birmingham branch of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Association (18 February, 1989), from Enoch Powell on 1992 (Anaya, 1989), pp. 49-50.
  • Q: Who caused the inflation?
    A: The Chancellor of the Exchequer.
    Q: How did he cause it?
    A: By putting a flood of new money into circulation.
    Q: Why did he do that?
    A: To prevent the exchange rate of the pound rising last year.
    Q: Why did he want to stop it rising?
    A: To keep level with the Deutschmark.
    Q: What for?
    A: To make it easier to join the EMS.
    • On the resurgence of inflation in the late 1980s (The Guardian, 24 July, 1989).
  • We are taunted — by the French, by the Italians, by the Spaniards — for refusing to worship at the shrine of a common government superimposed upon them all... where were the European unity merchants in 1940? I will tell you. They were either writhing under a hideous oppression or they were aiding and abetting that oppression. Lucky for Europe that Britain was alone in 1940.
    • Speech to the Merseyside Conservative Ladies' Luncheon Club (5 January, 1990), from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman. The Life of Enoch Powell (Phoenix, 1999), p. 928.
  • The world is full of evil men engaged in doing evil things. That does not make us policemen to round them up nor judges to find them guilty and to sentence them. What is so special about the ruler of Iraq that we suddenly discover that we are to be his jailers and his judges? ... we as a nation have no interest in the existence or non-existence of Kuwait or, for that matter, Saudi Arabia as an independent state...I sometimes wonder if, when we shed our power, we omitted to shed our arrogance.
    • The Sunday Correspondent (21 October, 1990).
  • To me a Tory is a person who believes that authority is vested in institutions — that's a carefully honed definition. We have made the law, not for extraneous reasons, not because it conforms with a priori specifications; it has been made by a particular institution in a particular way and can be changed by that institution in a particular way. A Tory therefore reposes the ultimate authority in institutions — he is an example of collective man.
    • Interviewed in Winter 1992 (Naim Attallah, Asking Questions (Quartet Books, 1996), pp. 354-5).
  • He says to the Sovereign: "I no longer am leader of the majority party in the House of Commons; but I am carrying on as your Prime Minister." Now I don't think anyone can say that — at least without inflicting damage on the constitution... [it is] tantamount to treating the monarch herself with disrespect and denying the very principle on which our parliamentary democracy is founded.
  • A pity she did not understand them!
    • "Odd man out", BBC TV profile by Michael Cockerell transmitted on 11 November 1995, on Margaret Thatcher's adoption of monetarist economic policies.

The 'Rivers of Blood' speech

On 20 April, 1968, Powell gave a speech to the West Midlands Area Conservative Political Centre which concentrated on the effects of immigration.

  • "In this country in fifteen or twenty years' time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man." I can already hear the chorus of execration. How dare I say such a horrible thing? How dare I stir up trouble and inflame feelings by repeating such a conversation?
    • Note: the first sentence was Powell's own quotation from one of his constituents.
  • We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant-descended population. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.
  • "She is becoming afraid to go out. Windows are broken. She finds excreta pushed through her letterbox. When she goes to the shops, she is followed by children, charming, wide-grinning piccaninnies. They cannot speak English, but one word they know. 'Racialist,' they chant."
    • A quotation from a letter Powell said had been sent to him from Northumberland, referring to one of his constituents. (According to a BBC radio programme broadcast in January 2007, the person in question was Druscilla Cotterill. However, this is open to question as some of the personal characteristics of Mrs Cotterill were not identical to the description given by Powell - in contrast to the woman referred to by Powell, Mrs Cotterill was childless and did not have a telephone. Source: Document, Radio 4, 22 January 2007)
  • As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see "the River Tiber foaming with much blood."
    • Alluding to Virgil's report of the Sybil's prophesy, from the Aeneid, book 6, l. 86: "Et Thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno."


  • Enoch Powell: No, we do not fight for values. I would fight for this country even if it had a communist government.
    Margaret Thatcher: Nonsense, Enoch. If I send British troops abroad, it will be to defend our values.
    Powell: No, Prime Minister, values exist in a transcendental realm, beyond space and time. They can neither be fought for, nor destroyed.
  • I have never seen such a disgraceful display of pharisaical handwashing in my whole life. [on Thatcher's government's statements in the Commons about violence in Ulster in April 1986]
  • Most people are. The only change is that is has become a term of abuse... I just don't like America or Americans. It is like saying you like sugar in your tea. De gustibus non est disputandum.1986
    • When asked whether he was anti-American
  • Britain's fondness for America has turned this country into something horribly resembling a satellite of the United States.
    • 1983
  • A party is not the private property of its leader.
    • 1973
  • Often when I am kneeling down in church, I think to myself how much we should thank God, the Holy Ghost, for the gift of capitalism.
    • 1968
  • Toryism is about enjoyment.
    • 1966
  • Hospital building is not like pyramid building, the erection of memorials to endure to a remote posterity.
    • 1961
  • A politician complaining about the media is like a fisherman complaining about the sea.
  • I will not surrender responsibility for my life and my actions
  • If I cannot understand my friend's silence, I will never get to understand his words.
  • If my ship sails from sight, it doesn't mean my journey ends, it simply means the river bends.
  • No battle is worth fighting except the last one.
  • Remove advertising, disable a person or firm from preconising its wares and their merits, and the whole of society and of the economy is transformed. The enemies of advertising are enemies of freedom.
  • When I repress my emotion my stomach keeps score.
  • You must have access to sources of information, divination and prophecy which are absolutely closed and unknown to me.
  • The beneficiaries thus regard themselves as having received no more than their due, to which they were entitled anyhow, while those whose benefits are discontinued regard themselves as cheated of what they had a right to and had been encouraged to expect.
    • On changes to the State benefits system
  • Reading one's diary is like returning to one's own vomit
  • I [also] know that, on my deathbed, I shall still be believing with one part of my brain that somewhere on every ocean of the world there is a grey, grey ship with three funnels and sixteen-inch guns which can blow out of the water any other navy which is likely to face it. I know it is not so. Indeed, I realised at a relatively early age that it is not so. But that factor – that emotional factor... will not die until I, the carrier of it, am dead.

About Enoch Powell

  • Ah, Enoch, dear Enoch! He once said something to me I never understood. He said, "You know, I've told you all I know about housing, and you can make your speech accordingly. Can I talk to you about something that you know all about and I know nothing? I want to tell you that in the Middle East our great enemies are the Americans." You know, I had no idea what he meant. I do now.
    • Sir Anthony Eden to Andrew Freeth after the Suez Crisis, from Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell, pp. 122-3.
  • Poor Enoch, driven mad by the remorselessness of his own logic.
  • Mr. Powell is an economic Whig but a political Tory.
    • J. Critchley, The Times (15 February, 1969), p. 8.
  • What a theme, and what a speech, and what a speaker, and how Oliver Cromwell himself would have been thrilled to hear the parliamentary cause elevated to its rightful pre-eminence... Writing as an impenitent Leveller who still begs to differ with you (and Oliver Cromwell) in so many matters, I still cannot withhold my wonder and excitement at what I heard there today.
    • Michael Foot in a letter to Powell on Powell's speech against Scottish devolution (19 January, 1976)
  • The Tory Kingdom would sooner or later have been his to command, for he had all the shining qualities which the others lacked. Heath would never had outmanoeuvred him; Thatcher would never have stepped into the vacant shoes. It was a tragedy for Enoch, and a tragedy for the rest of us too.
    • Michael Foot, Loyalists and Loners (Collins, 1986), p. 192.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about: