2001 : "Labour has called on William Hague to expel a senior Conservative backbench MP, who made a speech attacking immigration. John Townend spoke of "Commonwealth immigration" undermining Britain's "homogenous Anglo-Saxon society" and said Enoch Powell had been right in making pessimistic forecasts about its impact. "
Now candidate Nigel Hastilow has fallen victim to the curse.
In his column for the Express and Star newspaper in Wolverhampton - where Mr Powell was MP at the time of the 1968 speech - Mr Hastilow wrote: "When you ask most people in the Black Country what the single biggest problem facing the country is, most say immigration. "Many insist: 'Enoch Powell was right'. Enoch, once MP for Wolverhampton South-West, was sacked from the Conservative front bench and marginalised politically for his 1968 'rivers of blood' speech, warning that uncontrolled immigration would change our country irrevocably. He was right. It has changed dramatically."
He also wrote: "They have more or less given up complaining about the way we roll out the red carpet for foreigners while leaving the locals to fend for themselves."
Well, at least we know what Mr Hastilow said. John Townend's speech was never made available on t'Web. BBC radio news said he'd denied the Britons were 'a mongrel race' (presumably a reference to the 'nation of immigrants' myth) while according to the Beeb site he was sacked for saying we were becoming one.
Let's just look at the relevant bit again.
"Enoch, once MP for Wolverhampton South-West, was sacked from the Conservative front bench and marginalised politically for his 1968 'rivers of blood' speech, warning that uncontrolled immigration would change our country irrevocably. He was right. It has changed dramatically."
What a ridiculous thing to suggest ! Racist !
Cabinet minister Peter Hain said Mr Hastilow's comments had revealed the "racist underbelly" of the Tory party.
When we get a reaction like this to the unquestionably correct assertion that immigration has changed the country dramatically, you've left the realm of politics and are in the world of religion - specifically that part which deals with heresy.
We're at a stage in the process of the natives becoming marginalised in their own land where the signs are impossible to ignore, as even people like Trevor Phillips recognise. But you can't say it in the same sentence as the word 'Enoch'. After all, he was burned at the political stake for his crime.
David Cameron seems to be going for Plan B when it comes to the ethnic minority vote (and Baroness Warsi's stuffing of BBC uber-liberal Jenni Murray on Woman Sour last week was a pleasure to listen to (RealAudio). More like her please). But the BNP in that neck of the woods must be rubbing their hands. Rowley Regis and still more Halesowen are enclaves of the old Black Country, much of which has indeed been changed irrevocably, by a combination of immigration and the manufacturing disasters of the last 30 years. Mr Cameron may have gained votes in Kensington or South Devon by this. I'm not sure he's improved his candidate's chances in this highly marginal seat. We shall see.
Unlike Mr Townend's or Mr Hastilow's you can still read the speech that started all the trouble at Sterling Times. I'm more impressed by the 1976 speech reported by David Conway of Civitas - trouble is he seems to be the only source. I wonder where the whole thing is.
‘The nation has been, and is still being, eroded and hollowed out from within by the implantation of large unassimilated and unassimilable populations … in the heartland of the state. … The disruption of the homogeneous “we”, which forms the basis of parliamentary democracy and therefore of our liberties, is now approaching the point at which the political mechanics of a “divided community” take charge and begin to operate… The two active ingredients are grievance and violence.
‘There is one factor which not yet been injected. That factor is firearms and explosives… with the escalating and self-augmenting consequences which we know perfectly well from experience in … other parts of the world. I do not know whether it will be tomorrow, or next year, or in five years: but it will come.
‘At first there will be horrified astonishment, and inquiry as to what we have done wrong that such things should be happening. Then there will be feverish endeavour to find methods to allay the supposed grievances which lie behind the violence.'
That does seem a fair description of 7/7 to me - especially the "inquiry as to what we have done wrong" and the search for appeasement.
(While Enoch's ghost still stalks the land, the Enoch of the title was quite a different creature. 'Great Enoch' was the sledgehammer wielded by General Ned Ludd, an early pioneer of direct action against excessive energy consumption.)