Saturday, March 08, 2008

"Rivers of blood" - BBC White season

Those words, or variations of them must have been the most feared in British politics for about 4 decades. The BBC has just shown a documentary covering the background, speech, and subsequent events of Enoch Powell's famous (infamous ?) speech on Immigration.

Firstly I would say that I have admired Enoch Powell for his economic views, which were the forerunner of Thatcherism - and arguably the salvation of the western world.

His speech was covered in detail and commented on by those sympathetic and those critical of his view. ( I thought the BBC did a good job of covering the range of views with the people it interviewed.)

I guess what struck me most was how the people of the day had a policy they didn't want hoisted upon them (whatever the rights or wrongs of it were ) by a consensus between the two main parties.

No doubt talk of this subject will make many of our fellow citizens feel uncomfortable, and that's something we should all take care of. But what stuck me most was to hear some of the architects of multiculturalism starting to recognise the implications of what they had done, and Enoch had warned about.

The BBC also covered the controversial part of the speech about a old lady being forced out of her street. This has always been controversial. Some believing the letter to have been real - other to have been made up to emphasise his point. Personally I suspect it could have been real, but the language Mr Powell used to describe people would be completely unacceptable, as we now have more sensitivity to the insult and crassness of some terms, by the standards of today. That perhaps detracts from the point he was making - based on his experiences of inter communal violence in partition India and the race riots in the US.

Here is the speech in full over on the Daily Telegraphs site. Its worth reading through. the programme will no doubt be on the BBC iplayer for a week and someone will no doubt move a copy to Youtube.

What's really hard is knowing how to react. I think the dilemma of Mr Powell's newspaper friend, who was looking after his children when he was delivering the speech sums it up.

Also it is interesting to hear how the term English is used by some of the commentators and the context to which it is implied.

There is much material here for people to make mischief with. There is clearly fear in the country today and where there is fear there is opportunity for unwise or rash policies or actions. However ignoring these issues doesn't work either, as has been recently demonstrated.

I think one of the greatest problems was summed up by Frank Field at the end when he talked about people being very uneasy, and implied that politics wasn't addressing these issues. No doubt that's what the BBC intends and we can expect to have this series rolled out as an example of BBC impartiality and converge of issues away from the consensus for years to come. If they made more thoughtful programmes like this they might even have a point.

1 comment:

fellist said...

I blogged about the film too, and I commented on some of the things you remark on.

The OED says ‘piccaninny’ is now considered offensive when used by a white person about a black child. That is a racist double standard, and people who promote the double standard - like Hall - are anti-white.

Frank Field MP, who is a party of one in opposing our homeland becoming a ‘global traffic station’, confirms another thing we all knew: there was an effective ‘conspiracy’ between the major parties not to discuss the issues Powell had raised. (Majority Rights definition: two party system = one party system.)

Heseltine [confirms] what we all knew: Powell had the backing of the people in saying what he did; could have won a party leadership election and a general election landslide as party leader in the days and weeks following the speech. Opinion polls said 80% of the population backed Powell. (Another Majority Rights definition: political consensus = will of the elite.)