Owen Paterson and the Spectre of Enoch Powell

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He who pays the piper picks the tune, as the saying goes. Those with particularly sensitive political antennae may have picked up an echo of the rhetoric of Enoch Powell, author of the infamous rivers of blood speech, in the speeches of sacked environment secretary Owen Paterson.

Powell was a classical scholar and Health Minister in the 1960s under the Tory prime minister Edward Heath. He was forced to resign after claiming immigration in Britain would lead to social unrest and rivers of blood.

He was also among the first MPs to darken the door of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a hardline free market think tank, which calls for low taxation for corporations, deregulation and attacks on the unions.

Enoch said in April 1968: “We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependants, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant descended population. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.”

Paterson was, half a century later, promoted to Environment Secretary by David Cameron. But he was then sacked because his climate denial represented a serious electoral liability for the ‘detoxified’ Tories.

Spitting Blood

The bitter politician was “spitting blood” after his unceremonious sacking. He responded by attacking the “green blob” of civic environment groups and began courting the Institute of Economic Affairs and other hardline free market think tanks in what can only be understood as a bid for the Tory leadership.

He said recently: “Understandably, given the pressures that this tidal wave of newcomers has imposed on our public services, job opportunities and wage levels, the public is hopping mad about the collective failure of the political class to get a grip on our borders.”

And DeSmog UK can now reveal that Owen Paterson has long been funded by Lord Howard of Rising with donations from his Castle Rising Holdings Limited. Howard donated £20,000 directly to Paterson between 2004 and 2007.

Thrice-married Howard inherited Castle, which has been in his family since it was built in 1138. The former shadow minister was raised to the House of Lords. He was also private secretary to Powell, and more recently author of the disgraced politician’s hagiography.

Absolutely Furious

The Tory grandee authored Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell. One reviewer noted, if this isn’t a hagiography, it’s hard to know what one might look like,” adding: “The book shrieks ‘tribute’.”

Howard tried desperately to stop Cameron sacking Paterson last year. “There are 12m voters in the countryside and they will be absolutely furious if he is moved,” he said at the time. “He is incredibly popular in the countryside. He is doing all those things that we in the countryside would like to see done.”

Howard has provided a parliamentary pass to Richard Ritchie, the retired director of government affairs for BP. “At no time has Richard Ritchie ever lobbied me on behalf of BP or sought any benefit whatsoever for BP,” the peer told The Guardian.

Ritchie is also a lifelong collaborator with Powell and supporter of the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Is Owen Paterson single handedly trying to retoxify the Tory brand?

@brendanmontague

Photo: Creative Commons

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