John Enoch Powell, MBE was a British politician, classical scholar, poet, writer, linguist and soldier. He served as a Conservative Party Member of Parliament, Ulster Unionist Party MP, and Minister of Health. He attained most prominence in 1968, when he made a widely renowned speech about immigration, now widely referred to as the "Rivers of Blood" speech. In response, he was purged from his position as Shadow Defence Secretary in the Shadow Cabinet of Edward Heath. He had few friends in the establishment. Michael Heseltine condemned the Rivers of Blood speech as having a "racist tone" and of being an "explosion of bigotry”. Thirty years later, however, Heath would admit that his remarks on the "economic burden of immigration" had been "not without prescience."
A poll at the time vindicated Powell, suggesting that 74% of the UK population agreed with Powell's opinions and his supporters claim that this large public following that Powell attracted helped the Conservatives to win the 1970 general election, and perhaps cost them the February 1974 general election, at which Powell turned his back on the Conservatives by endorsing a vote for Labour, who returned as a minority government in early March following a hung parliament. He returned to the House of Commons in October 1974 as the Ulster Unionist Party MP for the Northern Irish constituency of South Down until he was defeated in the 1987 general election.