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Monday 20 February 2012

The Rehabilitation Of Enoch Powell

While the Mail plays the populist card and lays into Tesco over its participation in what looks very much like a “workfare” scheme, the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is working to re-fashion the recent history of race relations in the UK. Only ten days ago there was an attempt to paint former headmaster Ray Honeyford as some kind of saint. Today it is Enoch Powell.

So today’s piece, by Abhijit Pandya, begins by telling readers “Ray Honeyford was vindicated”, which he was not. As I pointed out recently, Honeyford had contributed an article on “race and education” to the Salisbury Review, which at the time took the stance of advocating “repatriation” for immigrants and their extended families. And much of what he said in his article was couched in the most unfortunate terms.

It was not the first time Honeyford had been in trouble with his local education authority. Moreover, the unnecessary and prolonged media scrum around Drummond Middle School, its pupils, its teachers, its governors, and the parents, was entirely avoidable and down to Honeyford and his writings alone. The Mail has always either ignored or demonised the parents, and that will not do.

And so we come to Powell. Pandya sets the tone very deliberately by referring to him as a “Professor” and “Brigadier”. Let’s put this one to bed straight away: Powell was, in the late 30s, a Professor of Greek at Sydney University. That doesn’t validate his views on race. And, although he rose to the rank of Brigadier during World War 2, he did not see active service.

As to Powell speaking Urdu, this is true, but the reason he did so was not out of respect for Indian culture, but rather because he had the ambition of becoming Governor-General of India (he also taught himself Russian, not for any cultural reason, but because he recognised the significance Russia would have in the outcome of the war). Independence put paid to Powell’s ambition.

Moreover, Pandya’s excusing of Powell over the 1968 speech that caused Sailor Heath to sack him from the shadow cabinet conveniently omits the part about “the black man having the whip hand over the white man” and the deliberate comparisons Powell drew with the USA, which had recently seen rioting in many areas of the country with large African-American populations.

And Powell, after his final departure from Parliament, had turned up to address a meeting of the Yorkshire Monday Club in 1989, where a number of far-right sympathisers had fetched up and turned the post-speech Q&A into one on race and little else. The group was known to house elements with unfortunate views on race. Powell should have known this. It didn’t stop him attending and speaking.

Calling for the rehabilitation of Enoch Powell is a most unwise move.

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