Enoch Powell and conservatism

The recent 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech brought out his critics in force. What is insufficiently appreciated is that Powellremoulded conservatism in a positive and far-reaching manner, a point made by Alistair Lexden in a letter published in The Spectator on 5 May.

Sir: It is easy enough for a remorseless liberal like Matthew Parris (‘They say Enoch Powell had a fine mind. Hmm’, 28 April) to denigrate Enoch Powell on the strength of his widely execrated speech on immigration and some tortured comments on homosexuality. Powell should be remembered as the man who restored conservatism to intellectual coherence in the 1960s. He pointed it away from an outmoded imperialism to a realistic patriotism, and from a largely dirigiste and paternalistic view of economic policy to a radical economic liberalism. It is surely a view of conservatism that will achieve a remarkable vindication at the end of March next year when Britain leaves the EU.

Alistair Lexden
House of Lords