Saturday, November 03, 2007

Enoch Powell returns to haunt the Conservatives

After David Cameron's very measured and sensible speech on immigration and population growth earlier this week I had a small bet with myself who would be the first give to Brown and his crew the opportunity to cry "same old Tories, same old racists". I just knew it would be a Tory!

This is Nigel Hastilow, the Conservative Party candidate for Halesowen and Rowley Regis, ironically, in the heart of the Black Country, who has been reported as quoting Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech in an article in The Observer here.

No matter that he was actually writing in the Wolverhampton Express and Star paper and quoting the views he has encountered on the doorstep whilst canvassing in the constituency that he hoped to represent as an MP.

I say "hoped" because it is very likely he will be "pressed" to step down as a result of the ensuing furore.

I know nothing of Mr Hastilow's personal views on the issue of immigration and the problems of a rapidly expanding population but he has a right to reflect the views of the people he is asking to vote for him. That doesn't make him a racist - but he will be labelled as such by the media and Labour will use it to punish David Cameron whatever he does about Mr Hastilow.

But what did Enoch Powell actually say? It might not surprise us that in today's more "grown up" discussions there are still echoes of the concerns that Powell quoted nearly 40 years ago. Perhaps the concerns are now more about the overall numbers of immigrants rather than the colour of their skin and their country of origin. Is that progress?

Cabinet minister Peter Hain told BBC1's Andrew Marr show: "This Conservative candidate really exposes the racist underbelly of the Tory party." Well, there's a surprise.

And Mr Hastilow did step down as a Conservative parliamentary candidate on Sunday 4th November after meeting the party chairman, Caroline Spelman. Mr Hastilow said: "They wanted me to issue a statement apologising and I don't feel I had anything to apologise for. If I had said sorry I could have stayed on, but I am not sorry. I have definitely not said anything racist."


pcsolotto said...

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