Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Was Powell a racist?

As regular readers will know I am currently ploughing through Simon Heffer's stately biography of Enoch Powell. The question most often asked about Powell is whether or not his 1968 speech in Birmingham was racist in character and furthermore was the man himself?

I believe that their is no easy answer to this question, I suspect that Powell did hold some deeply racist views but he was not a racist in the extreme sense of the word, ie someone who hates someone purely for the colour of their skin. His use of language and belief in Englishness of blood rather than citizenship or birth makes my skin crawl. For example when he said, quoting a letter, 'the black man will have the whip hand over the white man' he expressed the deepest and darkest racist sentiments of fear based on race, fear of the savage, fear of the stranger and fear of being weak in the face of overwhelming primitive force. Many of the excuses made for Powell and his speech are feeble given the man's intelligence and ambition, he knew what he was saying and he knew the impact it would have. There is no excuse for quoting rumour and prejudice as evidence and no excuse for pandering to fear of difference.

Interestingly much of the thought behind the 'Rivers of Blood' Speech came from his time in America and his perception of race relations in the USA. I wonder how he would have reacted to Obama's election as US president?

Powell was not a monster but he was foolish and arrogant. His belief in the English nation and its qualities was based on the boys own comics he read as a child. He believed in a a permanence of institutions, culture and values that not does not exist either here or anywhere else. Nothing is permanent and English values and customs are constructions largely Victorian in origin but often with deep roots. My favourite example of this is England's reputation (or myth) as a land of animal lovers when over a few generations ago we revelled in bear baiting, fix hunting, hear running and cock fighting.

Anyhow I shall continue my adventures in Enoch land and report further findings later.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Birmingham's leaders

This is the Birmingham Conservative group, Notice anything...............................

.....apart from the fact they are a bunch of lookers.............................hardly representative of modern Birmingham are they? Surely they could find just one or two Asian or Black councillors

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Royal Mail - Is there an alternative?

Mandy is now in for a proper fight over the Royal Mail part privatisation now that Jim McGovern (who you ask!!) has resigned as a PPS. No doubt the CWU will be up in arms and there will be strikes galore, but what ultimately is going to change if the left of the party has its way. The Royal Mail will remain a business with the mother of all pension problems and another, perhaps less sympathetic generation of politicians will have to deal with the problem.

I consider myself to be to the left of the current government but on this occasion I think we have no options left but to consider part privatisation as a way to secure the future of the Royal Mail. But lets make sure its on a fair basis for the tax payer and the consumer not like the Rail and Utility privatisations of the 1980s and 1990s.

Friday, 12 December 2008

When capatalists go bad....

So those lovely Barclay Brothers have decided to close all their businesses on Sark because the people of that island had more sense than to vote for their cronies. I suggest we form a solidarity pact with these brave people to promote revolution and the overthrow of these despots.

How dare the people use their vote to promote their own interests rather than those of the wealthy few.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Monday, 8 December 2008

Well worth a look

A good local blog that has only just caught my attention is Hagley Road to Ladywood. If it manages to produce articles like this on a regular basis then it will become essential reading.

PS Congrats to Villa and Mose this week as both pulled out storming results.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Powell & Foot

I have just starting wading through Simon Heffers weighty biography of Enoch Powell, something struck me almost instantly. Powell had a tendency to idolise his fellow man it began with Nietzsche and moved on to other characters later, some famous some just friends. This struck me as being rather similar to another old time politician Michael Foot, whose biography by Kenneth Morgan i read recently. Foot was another man who had a tendency to gravitate towards strong characters, including Powell himself. This same point was made by Harry over at Crooked Timber, who points out Foot's negative role within the Labour Party.

Both men were also highly intelligent but had blind spots and obsessions the size of Jupiter. Both were rather negative and both had absolute faith in their beliefs. Foot in the power of socialism and Powell on the importance of the 'nation'. My belief is that either would have been disastrous Prime Ministers but the fact they both came close shows how powerful the cult of their personalities was. Foot, whose politics I sympathise with, was foolish when it came to understanding politics he wanted to educate not to change the country because to do that you have to win. The same could perhaps be said of Powell, but as I have only just started his biography I will hold my judgement until I know a little more.

What I do know, however, is that Powells upbringing and personality made for a very strange young man.