The oratory of Enoch Powell
in Conservative orators from Baldwin to Cameron
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Although he never held high office, Enoch Powell was without a doubt one of Britain’s most commanding and memorable orators, who would exert considerable influence on national political debate through the power of his words. For two decades, Powell was one of the most controversial politicians in Britain. He was one of the few public figures to be known by his first name and the only one in modern British politics to have large protest marches take place in his support. His public reputation derived from a particular speech he delivered in 1968 at the Midland Hotel, Birmingham, on the subject of immigration. That speech both made and destroyed him as a major political figure: it established his national standing, but denied him the opportunity to hold high office. His parliamentary reputation derived from a capacity to express himself in such a way as to set him aside from fellow parliamentarians. This chapter assesses Powell’s oratorical impact both in parliament and with the electorate more widely, arguing that whatever his other flaws, Powell was an outstanding orator, one of the best of his generation.

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