British Union of Fascists

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Party flag.

The British Union of Fascists (BUF), later named the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists and the British Union, sometimes referred to as the Blackshirts, was a fascist political party with Oswald Mosley as leader.


Oswald Mosley (with Roman salute) at a BUF rally in London, September 1934

British Union of Fascists was launched on 1 October 1932.

Predecessor organizations included Mosley's New Party (UK) and the British Fascists. Breakaway organizations included the British People's Party (1939) and the National Socialist League (UK).

Paramilitary section of the BUF was the Fascist Defence Force. The Blackshirt (1933–1936) and Action (1936–1940) were the party's newspapers.

The British Union of Fascists claimed 50,000 members in 1934. The Public Order Act 1936, which banned political uniforms, had a particularly strong effect on the BUF whose supporters were known as "Blackshirts" after the uniforms they wore. By 1939, total BUF membership had declined to 20,000.

The party was subjected to violence by communists, notably the 1936 Battle of Cable Street in London's East End.

In July 1939, BUF hosted one of the largest indoor political rallies in the world with Mosley speaking at a peace rally attended by over 30,000 people at Earls Court in London.

The BUF never faced a general election - feeling unready in 1935, they urged voters to abstain, offering the promise of "Fascism Next Time". There never was a "next time" as World War II delayed the next general election until July 1945.

It was banned in 1940 and prominent BUF members were arrested and interned under Defence Regulation 18B.

In the postwar period, Mosley founded the Union Movement.


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