“Rivers of Blood”: An insult (except when we say it)!

Conservative MP Nigel Mills has attacked Liberal deputy leader Vince Cable for criticising Tory anti-immigration panic with a comparison to Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech, calling on the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to resign:

It would be very hard for him to sit around the cabinet table having effectively compared his Conservative colleagues to Enoch Powell, which is an utterly ridiculous thing to have done.

The thing is, my understanding was that Powell was always a member in good standing of the Conservative party, until he left of his own accord. And given that he left in protest over Britain’s entry into the EEC — a move that Mills and his faction would like to reverse — it’s not clear what the objection is. Thatcher’s government offered him a life peerage, which he refused. If the Conservatives ever officially repudiated him, I never heard of it. Certainly they never objected when he was bringing in votes from the extreme right in the early 1970s.

It seems like typical family dynamics — “Rivers of Blood” is fine within the Tory family, but it’s an insult when outsiders say it.

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