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Oswald Mosley & the British Union of Fascists

Life and Times of Sir Oswald Mosley &

 the British Union of Fascists

Sir Oswald Mosley

Sir Oswald Mosley was born on the 16 November 1896 into an aristocratic family, from which he inherited his title. Oswald Mosley was educated at Winchester and at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst following a well worn path for his social class.


At the age of eighteen the First World War broke out and he served in the Sixteenth Lancers in France and then in the Royal Flying Corps, the forerunner of the RAF.


His experiences during the First World War had a profound effect on him, shaping many of the views that he took into politics.


Between 1918 and 1931 Mosley was a Tory, then an Independent Tory, and then a member of the Labour Party. Oswald Mosley became the youngest MP in the House of Commons after winning the seat of Harrow for the Conservative Party in the 1918 General Election.


In 1920 he married Cynthia Curzon the daughter of Lord Curzon of Kedleston, the daughter of the former Viceroy of India. Mosley however was not the dutiful husband he had numerous affairs, including relationships with his wife’s younger sister Alexandra Metcalfe and with their stepmother Grace Curzon.


Mosley became disillusioned with the Conservative Party and he again became re-elected as the MP for Harrow, as an independent candidate in the 1922 General Election. Two years later Mosley joined the Independent Labour Party and in 1926 he was elected to represent Smethwick in the General Election, and in the following year he was elected to the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.


After the cabinet of the second Labour Government refused to endorse his plans for national reconstruction, a task that had been allotted to him as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, he resigned from office in May 1930 and founded the New Party.


Supporters of the New Party included John Strachey, William Joyce, John Becket and Harold Nicholson, but in the 1931 General Election not one of the New Party candidates were elected.


Within this timeframe the British Facisti was formed in 1923 and the Imperial Fascist League was established in 1928. The former, associated particularly with R. Lintorn Orman, did not last long, but the latter associated predominantly with Arnold S. Leese continued its existence until Leese’s death in 1948. 


With the crushing defeat of the New Party in the 1931 general election, Mosley began to move toward the most infamous phase of his career. In October 1932 after a visit to Benito Mussolini in Italy during January 1932, he   disbanded the New Party and formed the British Union of Fascists: commonly know by its initials the BUF.


The BUF quickly developed the appearance of a major political party, with a membership of 40,000, but by 1934 its progress was hindered by the withdrawal of respectable support such as the Rothermere press, which is covered below.  


William Joyce aka "Lord Haw-Haw"

Mosley appointed William Joyce, the infamous traitor who broadcast pro-Nazi radio broadcasts from Germany, and was known as Lord Haw – Haw, as the BUF’s full time Propaganda Director. Joyce along with Mosley and Mick Clarke were the organisations three main public speakers.


On the 7 June 1934 the BUF held a large rally at Olympia in London, about 500 anti-fascists managed to infiltrate the hall, when they began heckling they were attacked by 1,000 black-shirted stewards. Several of the protestors were badly beaten up by the black-shirts, a public outcry ensued and Lord Rothermere and his Daily Mail newspaper withdrew its support and over the next few months membership of the BUF went into decline.


By 1936, after Mosley had failed to make further political headway, considerable energy was pumped into the local politics of the East End of London, Mosley and the BUF saw the opportunity to exploit anti-Semitism for political gain. This resulted in violent clashes on the streets of the East End, this conflict was symbolised by the “Battle of Cable Street” in October 1936, in which the BUF and anti-fascist groups fought each other.


Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/holoprelude/mosley.html


The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team




Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2010

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