But Powell made at least one other important speech before he was cast into the political wilderness. In 1961, as minister for health, Powell gave his Water Tower speech in which he revealed that mental health care had become an ‘obsession’ with him. He’d been left disturbed after witnessing patients chained the their asylum beds and championed community care, a much more expensive option.
Hannan praises Powell as a ‘small government conservative,’ which might lead one to expect that Powell was looking to restrain the growth of the NHS. But nothing could be further from the truth. Enoch Powell kicked off a period of significant growth in the NHS, including a major hospital building programme.
This makes Hannan’s love for Enoch Powell all the more eccentric. Hannan has fallen for the Powell of popular myth: the Enoch Powell that inspires fascism.
Meanwhile, the Tory response to Hannan’s ‘eccentric’ attacks on the NHS and his praise for Enoch Powell, has been to give him a job, revealing Cameron at his most duplicitous.