Europe's Cassandra


This article was originally published in 2008, on the 40th anniversary of Enoch Powell's "Rivers of Blood" speech in Birmingham, England, 1968. The events of the past few days have made his words, in retrospect, seem understated.  

On April 20, 1968, on a Saturday afternoon, Enoch Powell delivered his “Rivers of Blood” speech at the Midland Hotel in Birmingham. He went there fully aware that what he was going to say would be of historic importance. Earlier in the week, he had told his friend Clement Jones: “I’m going to make a speech at the weekend and it’s going to go up ‘fizz’ like a rocket; but whereas all rockets fall to the earth, this one is going to stay up.”

In his speech, Powell warned of the dramatic and tragic results which mass immigration from the undeveloped world was going to have on Britain. He referred to the Roman poet Virgil, who has the Sybil prophetize, in Book 6 of the Aeneid, “the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”

Powell was a leading member of the British Conservatives. He was the shadow defense secretary, a former minister of health, and during the Second World War had been the only British soldier to rise from private to brigadier, and the army’s youngest brigadier at that. Despite his credentials Edward Heath, the shadow prime minister, sacked him the day after the speech. Heath considered the speech to be “racialist in tone.”

Of course it was not. The speech was merely politically incorrect at a time when political correctness was beginning to smother public debate. Moreover, Powell confronted his colleagues with the responsibility to address “future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils”—a duty which most politicians, as Powell realized well enough, “knowingly shirk.”

Powell said that Britain, by allowing in thousands of immigrants from an entirely different culture, was “heaping up its own funeral pyre.” He warned that by the year 2000, there would be five million to seven million immigrants and their descendants in Britain, around one tenth of the population: “Whole areas, towns and parts of towns across England will be occupied by sections of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population,” he warned. And he was right. In fact, the situation is worse than Powell predicted.

Though, as an official report published last month by the British House of Lords states, the data about the stock of immigrants in the United Kingdom “are seriously inadequate,” the British government estimates that there are almost half a million migrants residing illegally in Britain while 9.3% of the legal UK population (a 2003 figure) are foreign-born. The latter figure increases to 10.3% if one includes the under 16 UK-born children of immigrants, meaning all children where both parents are foreign-born and half of the number of children with just one parent foreign born. There is no figure available for the total number of second-generation children in Britain, but it is possible to provide a reliable, moderate estimate. The current percentages of foreign-born population who are aged 45-64, 65-74, 75-84, and 85+ are 9.8, 8.4, 7.8 and 6.5% respectively. If one assumes that they have a similar number of children to the UK-born and if half of their children are born in the UK (which is roughly the current figure), then the UK-born adult children of migrants constitute about 4% of the adult population. This increases the overall population of migrants and their descendants to around 13.5%.

Powell was right in another observation as well. In his speech he referred to voters from his working class constituency. He mentions a “middle-aged working man” who had told him that if he had the means he would move abroad. The blue-collar worker no longer felt at home in his own country. He told Powell that he hoped that his children would manage to get out.

The working-class neighborhoods were the first to experience the realities of the multicultural society. The victims in European society, said Powell, are not the immigrants but “those among whom they have come and are still coming.”

“They found their wives unable to obtain hospital beds in childbirth, their children unable to obtain school places, their homes and neighbourhoods changed beyond recognition, their plans and prospects for the future defeated; at work they found that employers hesitated to apply to the immigrant worker the standards of discipline and competence required of the native-born worker; they began to hear, as time went by, more and more voices which told them that they were now the unwanted. They now learn that a one-way privilege is to be established by act of parliament; a law which cannot, and is not intended to, operate to protect them or redress their grievances is to be enacted to give the stranger, the disgruntled and the agent-provocateur the power to pillory them for their private actions.”

Powell’s speech provides tragic anecdotes from a woman old-age pensioner, the only white person left in her street. Her life was made unbearable by the barbarians who took over her living environment. Forty years later, similar stories are all too familiar, all over Europe. As a result the indigenous workers have all deserted the parties of the Left and vote for the anti-immigrant Right. As Umberto Bossi, the jubilant leader of the Italian anti-immigrant Lega Nord, said this week, following the eradication of the Communists and Greens in last Sunday’s Italian general elections: “The workers don’t vote for the Left any more. The Northern League is the new workers’ party.”

Bossi’s triumph is the tragedy of the common man, betrayed by his own politicians on the left. Meanwhile these treacherous politicians have found a new electoral base amongst the ever-swelling number of immigrants who have been enfranchised. As Filip Dewinter, the leader of the anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang in Belgium, recognized well enough when talking about the situation in a major town like Antwerp: “The number of potential voters for our party is declining year by year. […] In ten years’ time the number of “new Belgians” in Antwerp—half of whom are Moroccans—has doubled. [...] If the number of foreigners in Antwerp continues to grow by 1.5% a year, as it is doing now, then in twenty years from now there will be more people of foreign than of indigenous extraction in this city.” The population replacement is leading to a voter replacement.

Powell also pointed out that the problem with non-white immigration in Europe cannot be compared to that of the “Negro population of the United States.” He did not mention, however, that the huge difference between non-whites who cause no problems and those who do is that the latter are mostly Muslims. Powell does not address the problem of Islam at all. This is the only aspect of the speech that makes it sound somewhat odd to modern listeners, thereby revealing that it could not have been written today. Powell’s failure to address the fundamental issue of Islamization, however, is hardly surprising. Muslims are admonished by Islam not to assert themselves too openly until their numbers have grown sufficiently. When Powell enunciated his speech forty years ago, the followers of Muhammad still kept quiet, while today it is they who decide what one is allowed to publish in Europe, what one is allowed to eat, how one has to dress and behave, and when one is allowed to swim at the public swimming pool.

Despite the fact that Enoch Powell’s prediction of the future population figures was correct, despite his accurate perception of the worries and fears of the working class, and although he cannot be accused of “Islamophobia,” his speech is still considered beyond the bounds today. Indeed, so much so that when Nigel Hastilow, a Conservative candidate for parliament wrote in an op-ed piece last November, “Enoch Powell was right,” David Cameron, the current shadow prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party, acted exactly as Ted Heath did forty years ago. He immediately sacked Hastilow.

The reason why Powell’s speech is still a taboo today is undoubtedly the solution he proposed for saving Britain: Get the immigrants to leave again. “Stopping further inflow and promoting the maximum outflow” of aliens, he said, was the only solution to the problem. This is the big taboo topic in Europe, although everyone knows that here, too, Powell was right. “If all immigration ended tomorrow,” Powell pointed out, “the rate of growth of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population would be substantially reduced, but the prospective size of this element in the population would still leave the basic character of the national danger unaffected. This can only be tackled while a considerable proportion of the total still comprises persons who entered this country during the last ten years or so.” Hence, he added, “the urgency of implementing […] the encouragement of re-emigration.”

Powell hoped the aliens would leave voluntary:

“Nobody can make an estimate of the numbers which, with generous assistance, would choose either to return to their countries of origin or to go to other countries anxious to receive the manpower and the skills they represent. Nobody knows, because no such policy has yet been attempted. I can only say that, even at present, immigrants in my own constituency from time to time come to me, asking if I can find them assistance to return home. If such a policy were adopted and pursued with the determination which the gravity of the alternative justifies, the resultant outflow could appreciably alter the prospects.”

It is obvious, however, that if the aliens do not want to leave voluntarily, Europe will have to make them leave. Europe can only save itself if it has the courage to consider deportation. Unfortunately, it did not have the courage to do so 40 years ago. Tragically, it does not even wish to consider it today. If Europe does not find this courage soon it will be too late. Forty years have been lost. The funeral pyre has been lit. The fire is burning. Powell referred to Virgil’s Sybil and her prophecy. Unfortunately, he himself resembles Cassandra. She had the gift of prescience but, cursed by the gods, no one ever took heed of her predictions.