British Fascist and Leader of the BUF Movement ( British Union of Fascist Movement ) , Oswald Mosley in his prime during the 1930’s
Below: Original oil painting of Oswald Mosley by Gloucestershire artist Paul Bridgman on display at The Crime Through Time Collection, Littledean jail , UK .
PLEASE DO BE AWARE THAT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL HAS NO AFFILIATION , CONNECTION OR INVOLVEMENT WITH ANY EXTREMIST , POLITICALLY MOTIVATED OR OTHERWISE MOVEMENTS WHATSOEVER …… WE SIMPLY EXHIBIT AND TOUCH UPON A GREAT MANY POLITICALLY INCORRECT AND TABOO SUBJECT MATTERS THAT NO OTHER VISITOR ATTRACTIONS DARE COVER IN THE WAY WE CHOOSE TO DO HERE. …. “IT’S ALL HISTORY FOR GOODNESS SAKE”
POLITICALLY INCORRECT IT MAY BE… SO WHAT…… IT HAPPENED HERE IN BRITAIN
BELOW IS A VERY BRIEF PICTORIAL SLIDESHOW INSIGHT INTO JUST A FEW OF THE EXHIBIT ITEMS HERE ON DISPLAY IN OUR FASCISM IN BRITAIN EXHIBITION.TOUCHING UPON A TABOO SUBJECT MATTER THAT OUR UK GOVERNMENTS HAVE LONG SINCE WISHED TO BRUSH UNDER THE CARPETS AS NOT BEING WORTH REFLECTING UPON IN OUR BRITISH HISTORY SCHOOL AND COLLEGE CURRICULUM’S
Above and below: Rare images of Oswald Mosley’s BUF Movement parading with the original BUF Standards/Banners…. one of which is here on display at Littledean Jail in and amongst the Fascism in Britain Exhibition .
Below: A rare original Oswald Mosley British Union Standard/Rally Banner being one of the so say 60 number of them that were carried and used by the movement during the 1930’s, along with other BUF related memorabilia
Above and below: Oswald Mosley seen at various British Union rallies during the 1930’s …
SURELY IT IS A PART OF HISTORY THAT WE SHOULD ALL REFLECT UPON IN EDUCATIONAL TERMS AS TO OUR PAST CONFLICTS ?
PLEASE DO TAKE THE TIME IF INTERESTED IN OUR FASCISM IN BRITAIN HISTORY DURING THE 1930’S-1940’S TO LOOK AT THE INTERACTIVE DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE BELOW
Above : An exceptionally rare Arnold Leese (1878-1956) “Imperial Fascist League” banner which controversially depicted the Nazi Swastika emblem within the centre of the Untider Kingdom’s Union Jack Flag.
Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet, of Ancoats, (16 November 1896 – 3 December 1980) was an English politician, known principally as the founder of the British Union of Fascists. He was a Member of Parliament for Harrow from 1918 to 1924 and for Smethwick from 1926 to 1931, as well as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the Labour Government of 1929–1931.
Family and early lifeBiography
Mosley was the eldest of three sons of Sir Oswald Mosley, 5th Baronet, of Ancoats (29 December 1873 – 21 September 1928), and wife Katharine Maud Edwards-Heathcote (1874–1950), the second child of Captain Justinian Edwards-Heathcote of Market Drayton, Shropshire. Mosley’s family were Anglo-Irish. His branch were prosperous landowners in Staffordshire. Through the intermarriage common among the British upper classes, the 5th Baronet was the third cousin of the Earl of Strathmore, which would eventually make Oswald Mosley, the 6th baronet, fourth cousin to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who was the Earl of Strathmore’s daughter, and fourth cousin once removed to Queen Elizabeth II.
Mosley was born at Rolleston Hall, near Burton-on-Trent on November 16, 1896. When his parents separated he was brought up by his mother, who initially went to live at Betton Hall near Market Drayton, and his paternal grandfather, Sir Oswald Mosley, 4th Baronet. Within the family and among intimate friends, he was always called “Tom”. He lived for many years at Apedale Hall near Newcastle-under-Lyme.
He was educated at West Downs School and Winchester College. In January 1914 he entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst but was expelled in June for a “riotous act of retaliation” against a fellow student. During World War I he was commissioned in the 16th The Queen’s Lancers and fought on the Western Front. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as an observer but while demonstrating in front of his mother and sister he crashed, which left him with a permanent limp. He returned to the trenches before the injury was fully healed and, at the Battle of Loos, he passed out at his post from the pain. He spent the remainder of the war at desk jobs in the Ministry of Munitions and in the Foreign Office.
Oswald Mosley and Lady Cynthia Curzon on their wedding day, 11 May 1920
On 11 May 1920 he married Lady Cynthia Curzon (known as ‘Cimmie’), (1898 – 1933), second daughter ofGeorge Curzon, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, (1859 – 1925), Viceroy of India, 1899 – 1905, Foreign Secretary, 1919 – 1924, and Lord Curzon’s first wife, the American mercantile heiress, the former Mary Victoria Leiter.
Lord Curzon had to be persuaded that Mosley was a suitable husband, as he suspected Mosley was largely motivated by social advancement in Conservative Party politics and her inheritance. The 1920 wedding took place in the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace in London. It was the social event of the year. The hundreds of guests included European royalty, including King George V and Queen Mary; and Leopold III and Astrid of Sweden, King and Queen of Belgium.
He had three children by Cynthia: Vivien Elizabeth Mosley (25 February 1921 – 26 August 2002), who married on 15 January 1949 Desmond Francis Forbes Adam (27 January 1926 – 3 January 1958), educated at Eton College,Eton, Berkshire, and at King’s College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, by whom she had two daughters and one son; Nicholas Mosley, 3rd Baron Ravensdale (born 25 June 1923), a successful novelist who wrote a biography of his father and edited his memoirs for publication; and Michael Mosley (born 25 April 1932), unmarried and without issue.
During this marriage he had an extended affair with his wife’s younger sister Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, and with their stepmother, Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston, the American-born, also, second wife and widow of Lord Curzon of Kedleston.
Cynthia died of peritonitis in 1933, after which Mosley married his mistress Diana Guinness, née Diana Mitford(1910 – 2003, one of the Mitford sisters). They married in secret in Germany on 6 October 1936, in the Berlin home of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. Adolf Hitler was one of the guests.
By Diana Mitford, he had two sons: Oswald Alexander Mosley (born 26 November 1938), married on 10 May 1975 to Charlotte Diana Marten (born 1952) and father of Louis Mosley (born 1983); and Max Rufus Mosley (born 13 April 1940), who was president of theFédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) for 16 years.
Mosley spent large amounts of his private fortune on the British Union of Fascists (BUF) and tried to establish it on a firm financial footing by negotiating, through Diana, with Adolf Hitler for permission to broadcast commercial radio to Britain from Germany.
Mosley also reportedly struck a deal in 1937 with Francis William Lionel Collings Beaumont, the heir to the Seigneur of Sark, to set up a privately owned radio station on Sark.
Elected Member of Parliament
By the end of World War I Mosley decided to go into politics as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP), although he was only 21 years old and had not fully developed his politics. He was driven by a passionate conviction to avoid any future war and this motivated his career. Largely because of his family background, he was considered by several constituencies; a vacancy near the family estates seemed to be the best prospect.
Unexpectedly, he was selected for Harrow first. In the general election of 1918 he faced no serious opposition and was elected easily. He was the youngest member of the House of Commons to take his seat (Joseph Sweeney, an abstentionist Sinn Féin MP was younger). He soon distinguished himself as an orator and political player, one marked by extreme self-confidence. He made a point of speaking in the House of Commons without notes.
Crossing the floor
Mosley was at this time falling out with the Conservatives over Irish policy, objecting to the use of the Black and Tans to suppress the Irish population. Eventually he ‘crossed the floor‘ and sat as an Independent MP on the opposition side of the House of Commons. Having built up a following in his constituency, he retained it against a Conservative challenge in the 1922 and 1923 general elections.
The liberal Westminster Gazette wrote that he was “the most polished literary speaker in the Commons, words flow from him in graceful epigrammatic phrases that have a sting in them for the government and the conservatives. To listen to him is an education in the English language, also in the art of delicate but deadly repartee. He has human sympathies, courage and brains.” By 1924 he was growing increasingly attracted to the Labour Party, which had just formed a government, and in March he joined. He immediately joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) as well and allied himself with the left.
When the government fell in October, Mosley had to choose a new seat as he believed that Harrow would not re-elect him as a Labour candidate. He therefore decided to oppose Neville Chamberlain in Birmingham Ladywood. An energetic campaign led to a knife-edge result but Mosley was defeated by 77 votes. His period outside Parliament was used to develop a new economic policy for the ILP, which eventually became known as the Birmingham Proposals; they continued to form the basis of Mosley’s economics until the end of his political career.
In 1926, the Labour-held seat of Smethwick fell vacant and Mosley returned to Parliament after winning the resulting by-election on 21 December. Mosley felt the campaign was dominated by Conservative attacks on him for being too rich and claims he was covering up his wealth.
Mosley and his wife Cynthia were ardent Fabians in the 1920s and 1930s. Mosley appears in a list of names of Fabians from Fabian News and Fabian Society Annual Report 1929–31. He wasKingsway Hall lecturer in 1924 and Livingstone Hall lecturer in 1931.
Mosley then made a bold bid for political advancement within the Labour Party. He was close to Ramsay MacDonald and hoped for one of the great offices of state, but when Labour won the 1929 general election he was appointed only to the post of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, de facto Minister without Portfolio, outside the Cabinet. He was given responsibility for solving the unemployment problem, but found that his radical proposals were blocked either by his superior James Henry Thomas or by the Cabinet.
Mosley was always impatient and eventually put forward a whole scheme in the ‘Mosley Memorandum’ to find it rejected by the Cabinet; he then resigned in May 1930. At the time, the weekly liberal paper The Nation described his move: “The resignation of Sir Oswald Mosley is an event of capital importance in domestic politics… We feel that Sir Oswald has acted rightly—as he has certainly acted courageously—in declining to share any longer in the responsibility for inertia.” He attempted to persuade the Labour Party Conference in October, but was defeated again.
The memorandum called for high tariffs to protect British industries from international finance, for state nationalisation of industry and a programme of public works to solve unemployment. Thirty years later, in 1961, R. H. S. Crossman described the memorandum: “… this brilliant memorandum was a whole generation ahead of Labour thinking.”
Determined that the Labour Party was no longer suitable, Mosley quickly founded the New Party. Its early parliamentary contests, in the 1931 Ashton-under-Lyne by-election and subsequent by-elections, were successful only in splitting the vote and allowing the Conservative candidate to win. Despite this, the organisation gained support among many Labour and Conservative MPs, who agreed with his corporatist economic policy—among those who agreed were Aneurin Bevan and Harold Macmillan. It also gained the endorsement of the Daily Mail newspaper, headed at the time byAlfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe.
The New Party increasingly inclined to fascist policies, but Mosley was denied the opportunity to get his party established when the 1931 election was suddenly called. All its candidates, including Mosley, lost their seats. As the New Party gradually became more radical and authoritarian, many previous supporters defected from it. Shortly after the election, he was described by the Manchester Guardian:
When Sir Oswald Mosley sat down after his Free Trade Hall speech in Manchester and the audience, stirred as an audience rarely is, rose and swept a storm of applause towards the platform—who could doubt that here was one of those root-and-branch men who have been thrown up from time to time in the religious, political and business story of England. First that gripping audience is arrested, then stirred and finally, as we have said, swept off its feet by a tornado of peroration yelled at the defiant high pitch of a tremendous voice.
After his failure in 1931 Mosley went on a study tour of the ‘new movements’ of Italy’s Benito Mussolini and other fascists, and returned convinced that it was the way forward for him and for Britain. He determined to unite the existing fascist movements and created the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932. The BUF was anti-communist and protectionist. It claimed membership as high as 50,000, and had the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror among its earliest (if, in the case of theMail, short-lived) supporters.
Among his followers were the novelist Henry Williamson, military theorist J. F. C. Fuller and the future “Lord Haw Haw“, William Joyce.
Mosley had found problems with disruption of New Party meetings, and instituted a corps of black-uniformed paramilitary stewards, nicknamed blackshirts. The party was frequently involved in violent confrontations, particularly with Communist and Jewish groups and especially in London. At a large Mosley rally at Olympia on 7 June 1934 mass brawling broke out when hecklers were removed by blackshirts, resulting in bad publicity. This and the Night of the Long Knives in Germany led to the loss of most of the BUF’s mass support. The party was unable to fight the 1935 general election.
In October 1936 Mosley and the BUF attempted to march through an area with a high proportion of Jewish residents, and violence resulted between local and nationally organised protesters trying to block the march and police trying to force it through, since called the Battle of Cable Street. At length Sir Philip Gamethe Police Commissioner disallowed the march from going ahead and the BUF abandoned it.
Mosley continued to organise marches policed by the blackshirts, and the government was sufficiently concerned to pass the Public Order Act 1936, which, amongst other things, banned political uniforms and quasi-military style organisations and came into effect on 1 January 1937.
In the London County Council elections in 1937 the BUF stood in three of its East London strongholds, polling up to a quarter of the vote. Mosley then made most of the employees redundant, some of whom then defected from the party with William Joyce. As the European situation moved towards war, the BUF began nominating Parliamentary candidates and launched campaigns on the theme of Mind Britain’s Business. After the outbreak of war he led the campaign for a negotiated peace. He was at first received well but, after the invasion of Norway, public opinion of him gave way to hostility and Mosley was nearly assaulted. 
On 23 May 1940 Mosley, who had continued his peace campaign, was interned under Defence Regulation 18B, along with most active fascists in Britain, and the BUF was later proscribed. His wife Diana Mitford was also interned, shortly after the birth of their son Max; they lived together for most of the war in a house in the grounds of Holloway prison.
Mosley used the time to read extensively on classical civilisations. Mosley refused visits from most BUF members, but on 18 March 1943 Dudley and Norah Elam (who had been released by then) accompanied Unity Mitford to see her sister Diana. Mosley agreed to be present because he mistakenly believed Diana and Unity’s mother Lady Redesdale was accompanying Unity.
The Mosleys were released in November 1943, when Mosley was suffering with phlebitis, and spent the rest of the war under house arrest. On his release from prison he stayed with his sister-in-lawPamela Mitford, followed shortly by a stay at the Shaven Crown Hotel in Shipton-under-Wychwood. He then purchased Crux Easton, near Newbury, with Diana. He and his wife were the subject of much media attention. The war ended what remained of his political reputation.
After the war Mosley was contacted by his former supporters and persuaded to rejoin active politics. He formed the Union Movement, calling for a single nation-state covering the continent of Europe (known as Europe a Nation), and later attempted to launch a National Party of Europe to this end. The Union Movement’s meetings were often physically disrupted, as Mosley’s meetings had been before the war, and largely by the same opponents.
This led to Mosley’s decision, in 1951, to leave Britain and live in Ireland. He later moved to Paris. Of his decision to leave, he said, “You don’t clear up a dungheap from underneath it.”
Mosley briefly returned to Britain in order to fight the 1959 general election at Kensington North, shortly after the 1958 Notting Hill race riots. Concerns over immigration were beginning to come into the spotlight for the first time and Mosley led his campaign on this issue. When Mosley’s final share of the vote was less than he expected, he launched a legal challenge to the election on the basis that the result had been rigged. The result was upheld.
In 1961 he took part in a debate at University College London about Commonwealth immigration, seconded by a young David Irving. He contested the 1966 general election at Shoreditch and Finsbury, where he fared even worse than he had in 1959. He wrote his autobiography, My Life (1968), and made a number of television appearances before retiring. In 1977, by which time he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, he was nominated for the post of Rector of the University of Glasgow. In the subsequent election he polled over 100 votes but finished bottom of the poll.
Mosley died of natural causes on 3 December 1980 in his Orsay home, aged 84. He was cremated in Paris and his ashes were scattered on the pond at Orsay. His papers are housed at the University of Birmingham Special Collections.
In popular culture
||This “In popular culture” section may contain minor or trivial references. Please reorganize this content to explain the subject’s impact on popular culture rather than simply listing appearances, and remove trivial references. (October 2011)
Mosley’s rising influence before the Second World War provoked alarm and reaction against would-be populist dictators by major cultural figures of the time:
- A character in the novel The Holy Terror (1939) by H. G. Wells is a bombastic British fascist with an aristocratic background, strikingly similar to Mosley.
- “Sir Roderick Spode” in P.G. Wodehouse‘s novels parodies Mosley. Spode, a blustering bully who is described as an “amateur dictator”, heads a British fascist “Black Shorts” organization.
Mosley’s attempts to promote his views after the war resulted in continued critical reaction:
- In the 1986 film version of Colin MacInnes‘s book Absolute Beginners, Steven Berkoff appears as a Mosley-esque character billed as “The Fanatic”, who delivers a (rhyming) hate speech at a fascist election rally; it is generally assumed this is meant to be Mosley during his brief resurgence in 1958.
- A semi-fictionalized depiction of Mosley, the BUF, and Battle of Cable Street appears in the 2010 BBC Wales revival of Upstairs, Downstairs, which is set in 1936.
- The original version of the Elvis Costello song “Less Than Zero” is an attack on Mosley and his politics, but US listeners assumed that the “Mr Oswald” referred to was Lee Harvey Oswald and Costello obligingly wrote an alternative lyric in which it was.:74,84
Mosley appears in alternative history stories:
- In the film It Happened Here, Mosley is implied to be the puppet leader of German-occupied Britain.
- In Guy Walters‘s alternative history novel The Leader, Mosley has taken power as “The Leader” of Great Britain in 1937. King Edward VIII is still on the throne, Winston Churchill is a prisoner on theIsle of Man, and Prime Minister Mosley is conspiring with Adolf Hitler about the fate of Britain’s Jewish population.
- In Philip Roth‘s alternative history novel The Plot Against America, a secret pact between President Charles Lindbergh and Hitler is said to include an agreement to impose Mosley as the ruler of a German-occupied Britain with America’s blessing after a sham attempt by Lindbergh to convince Churchill to negotiate peace with Hitler would fail.
- In Kim Newman‘s alternative history novel The Bloody Red Baron, Mosley is shot down and killed in 1918 by Erich von Stalhein (from the Biggles series by W. E. Johns), with a character later commenting that “a career has been ended before it was begun.”