Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Powell, (John) Enoch (1912–1998)
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

British Conservative politician. He was minister of health (1960–63), and contested the party leadership in 1965. In 1968 he made a speech against immigration that led to his dismissal from the shadow cabinet. He resigned from the party in 1974, and was Official Unionist Party member for South Down, Northern Ireland (1974–1987).

Born in Stechford, Birmingham, he was educated at St Edward's School, Birmingham, studied classics at Trinity College, Cambridge, and became a fellow of that college in 1934. He became professor of Greek at the University of Sydney, Australia (1937–39), but resigned his post to enter the British army, becoming its youngest brigadier in 1944 at the age of 32. At the end of World War II he joined the Conservative Party's research department.

He was an MP for Wolverhampton from 1950 and subsequently a member of the cabinet. He refused to serve under Alec Douglas-Home, but subsequently, in opposition, became one of the Conservative Party's principal spokespersons. In 1965 he stood as a candidate at the election of a new Conservative leader, but came third to Edward Heath and Reginald Maudling. His radical views on the social services and prices and incomes policy often conflicted with those of the Conservatism of the day and from 1968 his attitude towards immigrants and his repatriation proposals made him a controversial figure. He was dismissed from the shadow cabinet by Edward Heath, following his controversial speech on immigration, and was not offered a post in the Conservative administration of 1970–74. He was an opponent of British membership of the European Economic Community (now the European Union). Declining to stand in the February 1974 election, he attacked the Heath government and resigned from the Conservative Party. He returned to parliament in October of 1974 as an Ulster Unionist. After being re-elected in 1983, Powell resigned his seat, objecting to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Within a month he returned to the Commons but lost his seat in the 1987 general election.

Powell continued to express his views on current political topics, but declined the offer of a life peerage. He turned again to research and writing, his translation of and commentary on the Gospel of St John (1994) being well received. His other publications include The History of Herodotus (1939), The Social Services: Needs and Means (1952), Change is Our Ally (1955), Saving in a Free Society (1960), and The House of Lords in the Middle Ages (with K Wallis, 1968).


Powell, (John) Enoch

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles

Full text Article Powell, (John) Enoch
Philip's Encyclopedia

1912-98 British politician. He entered Parliament as a Conservative in 1950, and was minister of health (1960-63). Douglas-Home dismissed...

See more from Credo