What impact has Enoch Powell’s speech had on British citizens, then and now, in relation to how we distinguish ourselves from immigrants?
Enoch Powell’s passionate ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech about the concept of integration and how he felt about British tradition being eroded had a deep impact upon society at the time it was made and in modern times. It has shaped how British citizens distinguish themselves from immigrants both in historical and in contemporary terms. This essay will look at what impact Enoch Powell’s speech made when it was given and its longer term impacts. The essay will begin with a look at why race was such a divisive issue after the Second World War and during the 1960s. It will also look at the problems which arose in the social structure of Britain before Powell made the speech. The essay will detail how the law distinguishes between citizens of Britain and immigrants (both directly and indirectly), and the particular focus of the essay will be how it has done so since 1948. Conversely, the essay will comment upon how British people have expressed their views on immigrants through non-legislative channels such as through the media and through political parties. This discussion will be aligned with an examination of how immigrants have contributed to the fabric of British society, before the 1960s and between the 1960s and the present day. Therefore the essay will address the question of whether Powell’s assessment of the immigration situation still has resonance today. This exposition will incorporate a critical examination of the ideology of the BNP and an assessment of the general success/or failure of their organisation. This exposition will run simultaneously with an examination of the role and ideology of those who campaign in opposition to the BNP.
Racism and Fascism
The Second World War marked a turning point in the campaign to ensure that racism was eradicated. However, in Western Europe the issue of immigration has always been a divisive one, and this divisiveness has continued. Extreme forms of racism such as that practiced with regard to Jews in Nazi Germany were largely eradicated with the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1949 and with the downfall of Mussolini and Hitler. However, racist tendencies have persisted since this time in varying degrees and these tendencies have found many means of expression (Ifekwunigwe, J. (2004), p301). This lexicon of racial prejudice has been used to communicate many forms of objection to the presence of immigrants in Britain. Those who adopt the view that desperate immigrants have a right to be treated with respect and compassion regardless of whether they have a right to enter Britain are constantly at odds with those who argue that the entry of immigrants to Britain should be more stringently restricted and discouraged.
Pre-1960s Britain was regarded as having quite a liberal attitude to policy in regard to immigration and political asylum. Economic uncertainty produced mass unemployment and the housing conditions of most British people in this era were not of a very high standard. During this period Anti-Semitism was widely accepted, a