immediately joined the Tories. Resigned from the Tories (he was not chucked out), joined the Ulster Unionists (but not the Orange Order) then campaigned for Labour in both elections in 1974. Was at first enthusiastic about the common market then a bitter opponent. A militant atheist then a bible basher. Hated Thatcher (because women had no place in politics) then liked her. Described Indians as intellectually superior and yet that immigration conjured images of 'the Tiber foaming with blood'. He was not a man who did things by half, like most bigots he veered from one extreme to the other. With this many opinions he was bound to get some things right at least some of the time. However what he is mostly remembered for by most people - his 'rivers of blood' speech, is not one of them.
He did correctly predict that about 10% of the UK population would be commonwealth immigrants or descended from commonwealth immigrants by the year 2000. But so what? Is that a bad thing? Where is this catastrophe that Powell foresaw? I see a prosperous integrated society, with many problems yes, but not a society that has been destroyed by immigration, something his infamous 'rivers of blood speech' suggested would be the case.
The Tories and their candidate in Halesowen and Rowley Regis knows there are millions of votes in pandering to racism and that racism extends over all classes of society, particularly their hard to reach lower socio-economic classes that Tory policies so rightly alienate. Enoch has been made into some sort of folk working class hero in some quarters but for what reason?
Judging by the Nigel Hastilow/Express & Star mailbag, it seems the Tories are drumming up support with this 'siren call' of theirs, doing 1970 all over again. Get one of their prospective candidates to siren call the racists with 'Enoch was right' slogans and tap into that demographic. It helped them get elected in 1970 in the West Midlands, and they are trying it again. But at the same time the Tories know such racist sloganeering is distasteful to many voters - they are trying to get both sets of voters on side. I was hoping that the 2005 'are you thinking what we are thinking?' campaign gave us an answer to that Tory tactic - 'NO, we are not thinking such racist garbage' and it will increase people's determination to vote Labour.
Was Enoch a racist bigot? Did Hastilow know what he was doing in using such far right language? Was he being racist? The answer is yes to all these questions, but Hastilow can of course say what he likes and I would have liked him to stand in Halesowen and Rowley Regis as Tory candidate. He would have lost.
So why was it so bad of the Tories to use this 1960s/70s/80s far right slogan when referring to immigration? Even if Hastilow was not aware of the racist connotations of the speech (Enoch's speech talked of the 'black man having the whip hand' and sympathised with a lady who refused lodgers because of their colour), and come on, how could Hastilow not know the connotations? - his ignorance would be no excuse because he still refuses to apologise. Other than his endorsement of Powell, what he wrote in his article cannot be pinned down as racist, but with the Powell reference and the cries of 'suppression of free speech' afterwards, it is pretty clear that the Tories are trying their racist games again to play to the bigoted gallery. The turning point was 2005, when in a general election for the first time, this tactic lost the Tories more votes than it gained. Hopefully we will get the same rejection of this tactic once again at the next general election and bury this sort of distasteful campaigning forever.