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THERE is no denying the stature of Enoch Powell.

THERE is no denying the stature of Enoch Powell as a leading 20th century politician.

His "Rivers of Blood" speech, delivered in Birmingham in 1968, ensured not only his dismissal from the Conservative shadow cabinet, but also a reputation that lasts to this day.

To some he spoke common sense. To others he was a rabble-rouser who did untold harm to race relations.

Certainly his language was intemperate. And his fearsome intellect makes it difficult to argue that his words were anything but deliberately chosen, their consequences carefully weighed.

His predictions of bloodshed failed to materialise. He was, simply, wrong to warn that British society would collapse. Today the debate over the rights and wrongs of immigration continues, but is conducted in more measured words.

Enoch Powell was a son of Birmingham, but also of an era that has, thank heavens, long passed. An era when intolerance was acceptable.

The outcry against suggestions that he should be honoured in his home city with a blue plaque is understandable.

But there seems little doubt that his name will be remembered with or without the plaque.

JOHN Sentamu, former Bishop of Birmingham, now Archbishop of York, is an example of how wrong Enoch Powell was to rail against multi-culturalism.

Yet he shares with the former Wolverhampton South West MP a determination to speak his mind in forthright and fearless tones.

His latest pronouncements - on the wearing of the Muslim veil and erosion of public displays of Christianity - would quite probably be howled down were they delivered by a politician.

He has helped the cause of sensible, measured debate by speaking so frankly.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 13, 2006
Words:270
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