John Enoch Powell, MBE (/ˈdʒɒn ˈiːnɒk paʊl/; 16 June 1912 – 8 February 1998) was a British politician, classical scholar, linguist, and poet. He served as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP, 1950–74), Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP (1974–87), and Minister of Health (1960–63). Before entering politics, Powell was a classical scholar, becoming a full professor of ancient Greek at the age of 25. During the Second World War, he served in both staff and intelligence positions, reaching the rank of brigadier in his early thirties. He also wrote poetry, his first works being published in 1937, as well as many books on classical and political subjects. Powell became a national figure following his 20 April 1968 address to the General Meeting of the West Midlands Area Conservative Political Centre, which became known as the "Rivers of Blood" speech. It pointedly criticized immigration into Britain from the Commonwealth nations and opposed the anti-discrimination legislation being mooted at the time. In response, Conservative party leader Edward Heath sacked Powell from his position as Shadow Defence Secretary (1965–68) of the government's Tory opposition. In the aftermath of the Rivers of Blood speech, several polls suggested that between 67–82% of the UK population agreed with Powell's opinions and his supporters claim that this large public following which Powell attracted helped the Conservatives to win the 1970 general election, and perhaps cost them the February 1974 general election, when Powell turned his back on the Conservatives by endorsing a vote for Labour, who returned as a minority government in early March following a hung parliament. He returned to the House of Commons in October 1974 as the Ulster Unionist Party MP for the Northern Irish constituency of South Down until he was defeated in the 1987 general election.