Enoch Powell dominates the 1970 general election...
Ever since 1964, when That Was the Week That Was had its third series cancelled because of the forthcoming general election, British broadcasters have been convinced that the country is particularly sensitive to the effects of television during campaigning, capable of having its votes switched by an unanswered argument. 1970 was no exception. As soon as the election was announced by Harold Wilson, ITV responded by saying that it would postpone its broadcast of ‘Amos Green Must Live’, the latest instalment of the thriller series Callan.
The episode in question starred Corin Redgrave as the eponymous Amos Green, ‘a politician who believes that coloured immigration is dangerous to Britain and must be stopped’. Smoothly persuasive, he is building a large following with his TV appearances: ‘The people in this country know what they want,’ he declares. ‘What they want is not statistics, not facts dressed up, they want action. They want themselves; no visitors, no immigrants.’ As a prospective parliamentary candidate, he finds himself under threat from a rogue member of a radical civil rights group known as Black Glove.
‘We do not as an organization believe in violence,’ insists Anna, the leader of the group (played by Nina Baden-Semper). ‘England is not yet America. But, one day if things don’t change and it comes to violence, to protect ourselves and our interests, we must be ready.’ One of the group’s adherents, however, believes that the time has indeed now come, and David Callan, the secret service agent portrayed by Edward Woodward, is sent in to protect Green from the would-be killer.
The reason for the programme’s ban during the campaign required little explanation in the press. The anti-immigration stance, the populist appeal, the Old Testament first name – no one could be in any doubt about the real-life model for Amos Green, nor of his significance.
In that 1970 election, it was reported, the Press Association sent one correspondent to cover Harold Wilson and one for Edward Heath; Enoch Powell, on the other hand, was assigned two journalists just for him. That was how important Powell had become, though he held no position save that of backbench MP for a Wolverhampton seat: ‘Enoch has had more effect on the country than either party,’ said Tony Benn, in admiration rather than anger, as he assessed his own position after the government’s defeat...
published by Aurum Press
© Alwyn W Turner 2008