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Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley

(1896—1980) politician and fascist leader


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(b. 16 Nov. 1896, d. 3 Dec. 1980).

British Fascist Born in London, and educated at Winchester and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He served in World War I in the Royal Flying Corps and the 16th Lancers. He left military service in 1916 and moved to the Ministry of Munitions and the Foreign Office. In 1918 he entered parliament for Harrow. He was elected as a Conservative, but became disillusioned with the party, and in 1922 and 1923, was re-elected in Harrow as an Independent. In 1924, Mosley joined the Labour Party, and stood for Birmingham Ladywood, where he nearly defeated Neville Chamberlain. Elected in a by-election in 1926, he joined MacDonald's second Labour government, and became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He produced the ‘Mosley Memorandum’ (1930), which proposed that the Labour government should implement public works schemes in order to tackle unemployment. When this was rejected by the Cabinet, he resigned from office, formed the New Party, and lost his seat at the 1931 general election.

 Following a visit to Italy in 1932, when he was impressed by the achievements of Mussolini, Mosley formed the British Union of Fascists (BUF). He criticized every aspect of the British political system, focusing on the decadence of the ruling elite. The party lost its early (moderate) middle-class support following violent outbursts at a meeting at Olympia in June 1934. It became increasingly anti-Semitic, as became apparent in 1936 when it organized a march through Jewish areas in the East End of London. After the resulting Battle of Cable Street (4 October 1936), the government passed the Public Order Act (1936), which banned the wearing of political uniforms, and gave the police increased powers with which to prevent such marches. As a Nazi sympathizer he was imprisoned during 1940–3, and kept under house arrest for the remainder of the war. He wrote extensively after the war, and in 1948 he founded the Union Movement, which he led until 1966, campaigning for European unity. He failed to be re-elected to parliament.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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