Enoch Powelll Mirrorpix

Trump avant Trump

BERLELEY – Il n’est pas simple de comprendre les raisons du succès rencontré en politique par le président élu des États-Unis, Donald Trump. De nombreuses comparaisons ont été avancées, souvent hasardeuses, avec des politiciens populistes qui l’ont précédé, comme Huey Long ou George Wallace. Mais la figure historique la plus éclairante, à cet exercice, pourrait venir d’un autre pays, en l’occurrence de Grande-Bretagne et du boute-feu nationaliste Enoch Powell, à la fin des années 1960 et au début des années 1970.

Au premier abord, la comparaison peut paraître étrange. Powell venait d’une famille des classes moyennes ; il avait reçu une formation classique, était véritablement cultivé, et avait des principes. Il était aussi un professionnel de la politique, membre du Parlement depuis 1950, et avait occupé des fonctions gouvernementales dès 1955, date à laquelle il avait été nommé secrétaire d’État auprès du ministre du Logement dans le gouvernement du Premier ministre Anthony Eden.

Les parallèles avec Trump sont pourtant indéniables. Dans son célèbre discours des « rivières de sang », prononcé en 1968, Powell, orateur talentueux, franchissait délibérément les bornes ce qui était généralement admis en politique. Il s’en prenait à l’immigration et dénonçait la loi de 1968 sur les relations raciales qui interdisait toute discrimination dans le logement, l’emploi et l’attribution d’un crédit. Le passage qui allait donner à ce discours controversé le nom sous lequel il resterait dans les mémoires évoque les émeutes urbaines aux États-Unis et invoque Virgile : « Comme le Romain [Énée consultant la Sibylle de Cumes], je crois voir “ le Tibre couvert d’une écume de sang ”. »

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