So wrote The Observer as early as 1961 in a profile which Simon Heffer, praises, in his own magisterial biography of Powell, "as perhaps the most insightful piece of journalism ever written about Powell".
So perhaps it is not difficult to see why Enoch Powell should be a political hero of Mr Daniel Hannan, who recently returned from holiday robustly unapologetic about his guerilla campaign to chip away at any sense that Cameroonian brand decontamination has changed in any way what right-thinking Tories believe.
It is probably more than Powell's fervent Euroscepticism. Perhaps it is also that he was almost certainly the most uncompromisingly ideologically driven frontbench politician of the twentieth century.
What Hannan said in an interview with the Reason Foundation in California was this:
Q: "Who are your political influences? I've seen you reference Ron Paul, I believe you have referenced Hayek and Friedman on your blog.
Hannan: "Yeah, all of those guys...In the British context, Enoch Powell. He was somebody who understood the importance of national democracy, who understood why you need to live in an independent country and what that meant, as well as being a free marketeer and a small government Conservative."
Paul Waugh reports that CCHQ is relaxed, because Hannan was not praising Powell's views on immigration or race. Cameron previously defenestrated the Tory ppc and former Birmingham Post Nigel Hastilow for innocuously suggesting that "Enoch was right" about immigration, and refusing to withdraw the remarks or apologise.
While CCHQ are simply seeking to duck or contain the controversy, Powell's views on the nature of national independence can not very easily be separated from his controversial views on immigration or "race". (Powell was adamant that he did not believe in race or racial categories - but his belief in nation involved a cultural essentialism and a 'kith and kin' understanding of who could ever belong to 'a people').
For Powell, these questions were inextricably linked, and formed the core of his political beliefs. And the priority he gave to the existential question of national identity trumped his instincts as a 'small government' Conservative.
Now I very much doubt that anything of the "dog whistle" is intended in Hannan's argument, though I do rather expect that he may take some mischevious pleasure in tweaking the Cameroonian tail by praising Enoch while not crossing the line.
I take Hannan to be sincere in his Hayekian liberalism, which makes him a liberal on race and on immigration too.
However, I very much doubt that those views can sensibly be combined with any substantive praise for Powell's views on the nature or meaning of national independence.
This seems to me indisputable if one reads not just the famous Rivers of Blood speech, but in Powell's next speech on this topic given in Eastbourne seven months later (full text) which is rather less well known.
I wrote about this speech in detail on Open Democracy last year to show why Nigel Farage - who also has libertarian instincts - must be mistaken in his understanding of what Powell was advocating to make the claim that "Had we listened to Enoch, we would have much better race relations now than we have got", which reflects a commonplace mythology about Enoch's impact on the immigration debate.
I don't wish to deny Hannan his right to pick his own political heroes or talk about them in public - but he might do well to acknowledge that Powell's understanding of nationhood must be of very little use to any modern, libertarian or non-reactionary Euroscepticism today.
Certainly, no libertarian Eurosceptic could find much use for Powell's views of the essence of nationhood and national independence.
"Sometimes people point to the increasing proportion of immigrant offspring born in this country as if the fact contained within itself the ultimate solution. The truth is the opposite. The West Indian or Asian does not, by being born in England, become an Englishman. In law he becomes a United Kingdom citizen by birth; in fact he is a West Indian or an Asian still.
Could any "small government Conservative" ever advocate this?
People seriously underestimate the scope of the policy and thus neglect and despise the chief key to the situation .... A programme of large-scale voluntary but organized, financed and subsidized repatriation and re-emigration becomes indeed an administrative and political task of great magnitude, but something neither absurdly impracticable nor, still less, inhuman, but on the contrary as profoundly humane as it is far-sighted ... The resettlement of a substantial proportion of the Commonwealth immigrants in Britain is not beyond the resources and abilities of this country, if it is undertaken as a national duty …. organized now on the scale which the urgency of the situation demands, preferably under a special Ministry for Repatriation or other authority charged with concentrating on this task".
And Powell gave perhaps his most chilling expression of what constituted a people and a national polity, when admitting that his project was already a reactionary one in 1968.
"We can perhaps not reduce the eventual total of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population, much, if at all, below its present size: with that, and with all that implies, we and our children and our children’s children will have to cope until the slow mercy of the years absorbs even that unparalleled invasion of our body politic".
It is quite clear that this cultural essentialism is foundational to Powell's understanding of both citizenship and national independence. Having been a romantic Imperialist, turned after the loss of India to a distinctively English (and not British) account of a nation which had "come home again from many years of distant wandering".
Nor could Hannan - with his extravagant love of the United States - share Powell's pessimism about the inevitable tragedy of any liberal multi-ethnic societies,
Time is running against us and them. With the lapse of a generation or so we shall at last have succeeded – to the benefit of nobody – in reproducing ‘in England’s green and pleasant land’ the haunting tragedy of the United States"
This reflected Powell's lifelong antagonism towards the US, a once popular British right-wing tradition which has now almost entirely vanished. Indeed, Powell once answered the question of whether he was anti-American by saying "most people are. The only difference is that it has become a term of abuse".
Still, despite these differences, there may be other reasons why Hannan might take Enoch Powell as a model.
After all, Powell must be one of very few practicing politicians who could praise Margaret Thatcher for her skills in the art of political compromise, telling the Sunday Times in 1989 "her remarkable characteristic, which stamps her as a superb politician, is her ability to put up with things and go along with them, even though she doesn't agree with them, until the time comes when they can be dealt with. Now, not possessing that quality myself ... I admire this". (Also quoted in Heffer).
So, unless we were to find Hannan becoming similarly (but uncharacteristically) as moderate as Maggie, it will surely make sense to distinguish this 'wet' Thatcherism, which still dominate the modern Conservative party, from the true believers in the principled creed which is becoming known as Hannanism.