Peter Brimelow writes:
Sam Francis here repeats (he can`t be right all the
time) the media-filtered conventional wisdom that Enoch
Powell`s April 1968 speech ruined his career. On the
contrary, it made it. It transformed him into the
unofficial opposition to the center-left consensus, both
in its Labor and (after 1970) Conservative forms. For
six years, he was constantly in the headlines. And for
one incredible moment – just like Pat Buchanan in the
week after the 1996 New Hampshire primary – it looked
like he had achieved the impossible.
The government of Conservative
Prime Minister Edward Heath had been a disaster. In
1974, he attempted to recoup by calling an election
allegedly over a national miners` strike, although it
was perfectly clear that he would capitulate afterward.
Everyone assumed he would win, but he lost. Powell
seemed about to inherit the rump of the party and begin
the process of reshaping it in his own image.
It didn`t happen because of a
suicidal development at the moment of triumph, worthy of
the Greek tragedies upon which Powell was an expert. He
was no longer in parliament – a prerequisite for the
leader under the party`s rules. He had chosen not to
run in protest against Heath`s calling the election on
what he regarded as a fraudulent issue.
This was certainly a stand on
principle – parliamentary candidates are supposed to
swear allegiance to the party leader, although there are
weasel ways around it – but it was a fatal career
move. (And a radical shock to his supporters, including
me: I was just going to press with an article outlining
the above scenario in Canada`s Financial
the election, it was Margaret Thatcher who challenged Heath,
won an upset victory, and basically claimed Powell`s
mantle. He re-entered Parliament as an Ulster Unionist
shortly afterward and remained a presence, but there was
no leadership vacancy – and no opening on Margaret
Why don`t you know about this?
Because of the united anathema pronounced against Powell
by the British media, filtered through, and enhanced by,
the American media. Similarly, Pat Buchanan`s
achievements in the 1992 presidential primaries were
double-thought out of existence by the American media,
which did not prevent and indeed rendered more shocking
his 1996 victories. And, similarly, the whole Buchanan
episode is down the memory hole again – for now. (A
good source on Powell`s brilliant 1968-1974 high wire
act is Simon Heffer`s biography Like
The Roman. )
In his independence and political
entrepreneurship, Powell was much more like an American
Presidential candidate than the line-toeing,
organization-men types produced by the British (and
Canadian) parliamentary system. Ironically, he himself
was fiercely anti-American, on the not unreasonable
grounds that the U.S. had undercut the British Empire.
But, hey, our friends at www.lewrockwell.com
are fierce Anglophobes – it takes all types. (Sigh.)
[Lew Rockwell tells
reproachfully that he`s an Anglophile who just doesn`t
like the British state.] In
his combination of economic liberalism and nationalism,
Powell was an early paleolibertarian. He is a man for
both the twentieth (liberalism vs. socialism) and
twenty-first (globalism vs. national question)
The urgent reason for this lesson in the politics of an obscure country is this: in the early 1970s, it was commonly said that if Britain had had the U.S. system, with popular-vote primaries, Powell would have become President. No-one ever denied he had overwhelming popular support.
Now, in the U.S. with all its primaries, presidential candidates are afraid to raise the immigration issue.
The real lesson of Powell`s career:
come on in, boys, the water`s fine.
July 12, 2001