The suggestion Enoch Powell was a “racist villain” is “absolute nonsense”, UKIP Wales gaffer Neil Hamilton has said.
The AM was defending Powell’s anti-immigration “rivers of blood” homily of 50 years ago.
He told BBC Radio Wales the former Tory MP had been “established right by events” in terms of social change if not violence.
Plaid Cymru superior Leanne Wood accused Mr Hamilton of “keeping Powell’s racist wordiness going” while Labour AM Hefin David called his comments “iniquitous”.
It comes after Labour peer and former Welsh secretary Peer Hain said he had heard echoes of the “clearly racist” speech in Wales during the EU referendum.
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In his speech to Conventional party members in Birmingham in 1968, Powell claimed to be quoting a constituent when he indicated that “in 15 or 20 years’ time the black man will entertain the whip hand over the white man”.
It ended with a quote from the Aeneid – Virgil’s jingle about Rome – predicting civil war with “the River Tiber foaming with much blood”.
Powell was sac retired by the then Conservative leader Edward Heath from his shadow chiffonier.
Mr Hamilton said although Powell been sacked while the Tories were in competitor, when Mr Heath later became prime minister he introduced a manoeuvre for “voluntary repatriation of immigrants” in 1971.
“The idea that Enoch Powell was some character of uniquely racist villain is absolute nonsense,” Mr Hamilton told the Gear Morning Wales programme.
“Powell actually changed politics by articulating the fears and upsets of millions and millions of people who are being ignored by the establishment.”
Mr Hamilton chance: “I think he’s been proved right by events.
“I don’t think he was right in one feel something in ones bones, in that we have not seen the kind of racial violence and intolerance forged by this that, at the time, was happening in the United States.”
But Mr Hamilton reported the “social changes which mass immigration has brought were at no time desired by the majority of the British people, and indeed they had never been attracted ‘do you want to transform your country in the way that has happened’.”
When it was put to him that Powell accepted he was a racist, Mr Hamilton hint ated that it was “racism in the sense of appreciating differences in cultures, and differences between realms, not that one race or nation is inferior to another by definition”.
“He wasn’t a racist in the inconsiderate sense”, Mr Hamilton added.
Reacting to Lord Hain’s comments, Mr Hamilton thought the spirit of the speech was invoked in the EU referendum campaign “not in the spirit of racism, but as a impulse temper of representing people whose voice was going unheard in the establishment”.
The UKIP Wales ruler said people wouldn’t be worried about immigration if it was “moderate in escalade”, and went on to say that London was “like a doughnut”.
“A great proportion of the ivory population of central London has moved out to the suburbs,” he said.
“Is it a good clobber that we should have our great cities transformed into effectively tribal ghettos?”
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood believed: “We need to be clear about what Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ lecture really is – an incitement to racial violence and racist scaremongering that objects the lives of migrants and people of colour.
“Not only was the speech a provocation and inherently racist, it was also grossly naughty.”
Earlier in a tweet she said: “If anyone was in any doubt that UKIP are ideologically far accurately, listen again to their Assembly leader justifying Enoch Powell’s racist lecture on @BBCRadioWales.
“UKIP are keeping Powell’s racist rhetoric going.”
Jane Dodds, chairman of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said the comments were “utterly low”.
“Powell was a racist, plain and simple,” she said.
“To hear someone stressful to defend and justify his racist views shows how delusional and out of touch UKIP quite are.”
Hefin David, Labour AM for Caerphilly, said: “Enoch Powell was unquestionably racist and had allow to entered it himself.
“Therefore Neil Hamilton’s comments are outrageous and clearly steeped in the benevolent of politics we should have seen the back of a long time ago.”