Enoch Powell’s life and ideas explored in new book by Queen’s University historian

Former Conservative and Ulster Unionist MP Enoch Powell died in 1998
Former Conservative and Ulster Unionist MP Enoch Powell died in 1998
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Controversial former Conservative and Ulster Unionist MP Enoch Powell is the subject of a new book by Queen’s University Belfast historian Dr Paul Corthorn.

The book, due to be published by Oxford University Press on August 22, takes a further look into the life of one of the most outspoken figures in British politics in the second half of the 20th century, who served as Member of Parliament for South Down for over 12 years, and who died in 1998.

Tracing the development of Powell’s thinking, ‘Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain’ will delve into positions he adopted on key debates in the post-1945 era with issues such as arguing against devolution in Scotland and Wales and, amid the Troubles, calling for the closer integration of Northern Ireland with Great Britain being addressed.

Dr Corthorn, who is a Reader in Modern British History from the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s, says the book pays close attention to how Powell’s thought processes changed over the years.

“The book pays particular attention to the inconsistencies in Powell’s arguments and the significant ways in which his thinking changed over time,” he said.

“Powell’s diverse campaigns can nonetheless still be understood as a coherent whole, if viewed as part of a long-running, and wide-ranging, debate about the ‘decline’ in Britain’s international, military, and economic position in the decades after 1945.”

Dr Corthorn is also author of ‘In the Shadow of the Dictators: The British Left in the 1930s’ (London, 2006) and joint editor of the Labour History Review.