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20 April  
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1968: Powell slates immigration policy
The Conservative right-winger, Enoch Powell, has made a hard-hitting speech attacking the government's immigration policy.

Addressing a Conservative association meeting in Birmingham, Mr Powell said Britain had to be mad to allow in 50,000 dependents of immigrants each year.

He compared it to watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.

The MP for Wolverhampton South West called for an immediate reduction in immigration and the implementation of a Conservative policy of "urgent" encouragement of those already in the UK to return home.

"It can be no part of any policy that existing families should be kept divided. But there are two directions on which families can be reunited," he said.

Like the Roman, I seem to see the river Tiber foaming with much blood
Enoch Powell
Mr Powell compared enacting legislation such as the Race Relations Bill to "throwing a match on to gunpowder".

He said that as he looked to the future he was filled with a sense of foreboding.

"Like the Roman, I seem to see the river Tiber foaming with much blood," he said.

He estimated that by the year 2000 up to seven million people - or one in ten of the population - would be of immigrant descent.

Mr Powell, the shadow defence spokesman, was applauded during and after his 45-mintue speech.

However, it is likely his comments will be less warmly received by the Conservative party leader, Edward Heath.

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Enoch Powell
Enoch Powell predicted 'rivers of blood'



In Context
Enoch Powell's so-called "Rivers of Blood" speech was his defining political moment.

It led to him being sacked from the shadow cabinet, ending his hopes of a post in a future Conservative government.

However, thousands of workers staged strikes and marches in support of his views and he was inundated with letters from well wishers.

In February 1974 Enoch Powell left the Conservative party because of his opposition to Edward Heath's intention to join the European Community.

He became an Ulster Unionist and represented the seat of Down South, Northern Ireland, from 1974 to 1992.

He died in 1998 aged 85.

In 1968 he predicted that by the year 2000, seven million people living in Britain would be of ethnic descent .

The Census in 2001 showed 4.6 million people living in the UK were from an ethnic minority, or 7.9% of the population.

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