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Enoch Powell - a brief overview of his life

Enoch Powell was a English politician who was famous for making what became known as the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968.

His full name was John Enoch Powell, he was born on the 16th June 1912 in Stechford Birmingham. His forefathers had originally come from Wales and had settled in the West Midlands well before he was born.

Powell lived in Birmingham until 1930 when he left to study at Cambridge where amongst other subjects he studied Greek Mythology. After finishing his studies he left for Australia to take up a position as a Professor. He stayed there until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, when he returned back to England. At the outbreak of the war he joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a private, he moved rapidly up the ranks and left the army in 1945 at the rank of Brigadier.

After the war Powell entered politics, and in 1950 he became the MP for Wolverhampton South West as a Conservative candidate. He rose rapidly in the Tory Party, eventually becoming the Shadow Defense Secretary in 1965.

It was in Birmingham in 1968 that Enoch Powell made his famous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. In the speech Powell warned against uncontrolled immigration to the UK from the commonwealth countries. He gave a stark warning of what he saw as the dangers of immigration and also attacked the Race Relations Act 1968. The speech caused a considerable amount of controversy in the UK, and Powell was sacked as Shadow Defense Secretary by Edward Heath. One result of the speech was that Powell became one of the most recognizable political figures in the UK.

Powell remained with the Conservative Party until 1974 when he left over a disagreement regarding Britain’s entry into the EEC. Following his departure Powell became a MP for the Ulster Unionist Party for South Down. He remained a MP there until 1987 when he lost the seat.

In the 1990’s Powell retired from public life and only spoke briefly at public meetings.

Powell died on the 8th February 1998 in London, he was buried at Warwick Cemetery, Warwickshire.



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