'Enoch Powell’s legacy still stains the Tories'
The Conservative Party is failing to win over ethnic minority voters because it remains tarnished by the legacy of Enoch Powell warned the treasury minister Sajid Javid.
Enoch Powell was an infamous Conservative politician in the 1960’s, who is today remembered for his racist “Rivers of Blood” speech. In the speech he warned of the ‘dangers’ of immigration and the changing ‘ethnic, racial, cultural and religious’ landscape of the country. He claimed that ‘ethnic’ hatred and violence would spill over into the streets of Britain, making Britain a more dangerous place to live. He also claimed that,
“In this country in 15 to 20 years time the black man will have the whip over the white man”.
According to a Gallup poll conducted after the speech, 74% of the British population agreed with the speech, which caused fear and insecurity across Britain’s different ethnic and religious communities.
According to senior Government sources, it is believed that David Cameron is so concerned that the issue of race is damaging support for the Conservatives that he is planning to address it head-on with a speech in the next two months. Mr Cameron chaired a cabinet meeting last week at which ministers were shown evidence that the single biggest factor in voters not backing the Conservative Party is race, far outweighing wealth, class or where someone lives.
Mr Javid, whose father immigrated to the UK from Pakistan in the 1960’s, told the Spectator Magazine, that when his father told his friends that his son had become an MP, they assumed he was representing the Labour Party. When Mr Javid asked his father “Why?”, his father responded:
"I’ll sum it up for you in two words. Enoch Powell."
Mr Javid added:
"The damage that was done to the party’s image in the 1970’s, particularly by Enoch Powell, is something we still haven’t been able to shake off."
Mr Javid’s interview will anger Conservatives who bristle at any suggestion that they are the ‘nasty party’.
Mr Javid’s interview comes after a speech by another Conservative Minister, Baroness Warsi , who warned of the ‘unacceptable rise’ of Islamophobia. According to unpublished research, 1 in 4 people believed the Islam was a threat to Western civilisation. The Baroness had previously warned that Islamophobia had ‘passed the dinner table test’, a warning which was initially attacked by the media and by members of her own party for bringing up the issue.
Such comments by the Conservative's top two Asian ministers will cause the Prime Minister great concern and it is said that the party will bo asking for new ideas on how to exorcise the image that Powell’s spirit has possessed the Conservative Party. A serious question should be asked here by people of BME origins. Beyond the façade of a racially tolerant political party, does the Prime Minister’s concern reflect a leader who is troubled by ‘false’ associations or ‘embarrassed’ by ‘home truths’? Whilst we should welcome Mr Cameron’s moves to tackle this, we mustn’t take his words at face value, but rather scratch a little deeper to uncover the very soul of the Conservative Party.