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  • Writer's pictureMorven

Subject Stars: Post-Colonial Society

By Morven and Leonore

Ms Alabi runs the Post-colonial society every Monday after school. For her subject star, she nominated Caitlin Walsh and Louis Faure (Year 13) for their outstanding critical review on Enoch Powell's infamous 1968 'Rivers of Blood' speech. Their essay, titled 'a masterclass in political manipulation,' illuminates views on the immigration crisis, xenophobia and fear of the 'Other' that still prevails today.

When told of her selection as a Bark Subject Start, Caitlin said, 'I am proud that my work was chosen - I share a class with some incredibly smart people, all of whom equally deserved to be nominated. The message of the piece is extremely important, especially when considering the current political climate. I am glad that more people are able to receive that message.'

Moreover, when asked about what was important in their writing, Caitlin stated, 'The message of our work and the theme around the identity of immigrants is very important - we are living in a time where there is a global refugee crisis which was escalated further after the fall of Afghanistan. It is important that people understand that refugees are people. We must stand up to those who attempt to strip the identities of immigrants and refugees.'

You can read their amazing work below:

Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” - A masterclass on political manipulation by Louis Faure & Caitlin Walsh

Whether it be for its blatant racism and xenophobia or the very little hostility from the audience, Enoch Powell’s speech was memorable.

Before even mentioning immigrants or people of colour, Powell establishes who is to be portrayed in his speech as “evils” and later refers to them as “aliens”. All in the hopes of widening the divide between the British public and people coming from abroad to settle in Britain, which he succeeds at with very little effort. You see, polls in the 1960s and 1970s showed that Powell's views were popular among the British population at the time. Because of this, all Powell had to do was sell his fraudulent predictions to those listening and install fear in their hearts. He did this through his language choice, bold approach and nonchalance during his speech, saying outrageous things such as “the black man will have the whip hand over the white man”, always referring to himself as a bystander in all this while addressing the public directly and continuously using racial slurs. This all took place while he claimed to be supported by his party (Conservative Party), which was one of his many lies as it turned out he had not mentioned the contents of his speech to many of his fellow party members. Though it wasn’t fully truthful, claiming to have the support of such an influential party sold his views, his movement even, as something big to the public, not just something that you might hear someone say down at the pub after one too many pints. Even his handpicked testimonies were riddled with both subliminal and clear messages. Portraying the people who had given their testimonies as fearing for their safety and scared to leave their homes. 

Rivers of Blood explores ideas of race and immigration, specifically referring to what it is that makes a good immigrant. Powell acknowledged that re-location to the UK has benefited society and allowed sectors such as healthcare to grow ‘faster than would otherwise have been possible’ and those that have enabled that as well as those who have come to the UK for ‘improving their qualifications’ are not ‘and never have been immigrants’. The speech gives the impression that immigration is a negative thing and that people move to the UK and enter the workforce cannot possibly be the ‘alien’ immigrants Powell speaks of but instead members of the Commonwealth. However, the ‘dependents’ that also move to the UK during this time were from Commonwealth nations after receiving invitations to the UK in order to rebuild after the devastation of the Second World War – what Powell truly suggests is that white people who have come to the UK are not considered to be considered immigrants as they come to Britain as a ‘full-citizen’, highlighting how the worth of someone was placed entirely upon their race – coming from Australia and New Zealand made you welcomed benefiter to our country, however, those from Jamaica and India (also Commonwealth nations), were viewed as lesser peoples with the overarching opinion held by society being that the people who had things to offer could only possibly be white.  

Let this be a reminder. Though Powell’s views on people of non-British decent might seem old-fashioned or outdated, they are actually still a prominent part of our modern society. The Brexit vote of 2016 was the perfect display of this. Euroscepticism and opposition to immigration has grown greatly over the past decades. Britain became more and more in disagreement with the rest of the EU and the British public feared more and more the foreign unknown, causing the eventual separation of the UK and EU. All of which was also facilitated by the countless lies of people such as Nigel Farage and the UKIP party. 

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