The Conservative right-winger Enoch Powell has made a hard-hitting speech attacking the government’s immigration policy.
Addressing a Conservative association meeting in Birmingham, Mr Powell said Britain had to be mad to allow in 50,000 dependents of immigrants each year.
He compared it to watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.
The MP for Wolverhampton South West called for an immediate reduction in immigration and the implementation of a Conservative policy of “urgent” encouragement of those already in the UK to return home.
“It can be no part of any policy that existing families should be kept divided. But there are two directions on which families can be reunited,” he said.
Mr Powell compared enacting legislation such as the Race Relations Bill to “throwing a match on to gunpowder”.
He said that as he looked to the future he was filled with a sense of foreboding.
“Like the Roman, I seem to see the river Tiber foaming with much blood,” he said.
He estimated that by the year 2000 up to seven million people — or one in ten of the population — would be of immigrant descent.
How did that prediction pan out?
The Census in 2001 showed 4.6 million people living in the UK were from an ethnic minority, or 7.9% of the population.
Here’s the opening to the actual speech:
The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature.
One is that by the very order of things such evils are not demonstrable until they have occurred: at each stage in their onset there is room for doubt and for dispute whether they be real or imaginary. By the same token, they attract little attention in comparison with current troubles, which are both indisputable and pressing: whence the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future.
Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: “If only,” they love to think, “if only people wouldn’t talk about it, it probably wouldn’t happen.”
Perhaps this habit goes back to the primitive belief that the word and the thing, the name and the object, are identical.
At all events, the discussion of future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils is the most unpopular and at the same time the most necessary occupation for the politician. Those who knowingly shirk it deserve, and not infrequently receive, the curses of those who come after.
(I’ve mentioned this speech before.)