British Union of Fascists

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British Union of Fascists
Flag of the British Union of Fascists.png
Political position Fascism
British nationalism
Leader Sir Oswald Mosley (1932–1940)
Country United Kingdom
Existence 1932–1940
Affiliation none
Colours Red, white, blue

The British Union of Fascists (BUF), later renamed the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists in 1936,[1] was a political party of the 1930s in the United Kingdom. The party was formed on October 1, 1932 by ex-Conservative Party MP, and Labour government minister Sir Oswald Mosley after meeting Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini in January 1932. The party was a union, composed of several smaller Fascist parties including the New Party which Mosley founded a year earlier.

Character

Our Flag is Going Forward too, placard

Mosley instituted a black uniform, gaining the party the nickname Blackshirts. The BUF was anti-communist and protectionist. It supported the replacement of parliamentary democracy with a system of elected executives with jurisdiction over their own industries - something similar to the corporatism of the Italian fascists. Although unlike Italy the British Fascist Corporatism would remain a democracy, replacing the House of Lords with elected executives drawn from major industries, clergy and representatives of the colonies. The House of Commons was to be reduced in size to allow for a faster, less 'factionist democracy'.[1] Many of the BUF's members were drawn from aristocratic and military families and included celebrated military scientist J.F.C. Fuller.

The BUF had the most developed political programme and ideology of any fascist movement, laid out in such publications as Tomorrow We Live, and The Coming Corporate State.

Most of the BUFs policies were based around isolationism, an economic policy whereby Britain would trade only within the British empire as would the nations within the empire in a similar manner to the United States of America, the main attraction to this is that it would separate the British economy from the falls and fluxes of the world market Great Depression and prevent the loss of industrial production within Britain from the influence of "... labour the east, paid a third of our wages and working for ten hours a day.", and "Cheap slave competition from abroad." These were referring to the rise of western backed mass production in Indo-China similar to what is said about Chinese labour today. [2]

The position of the BUF on Jews was initially similar to that of Mussolini but mutual hostility increased. Jews were banned from joining in 1933.

The listeners heard Sir O.Mosley refer to his would-be interrupters as "sweeping of the Continental ghettoes, hired by Jewish financiers": "and alien gang imported from all quarters of Britain by Jewish money to prevent Englishmen putting their case" [3]
In answer to a question about the Blackshirt attitude towards Jews, Sir Oswald Mosley said:- "We will not tolerate within the State a minority organized against the interests of the State. Jews must either put the interests of Britain before the interests of Jewry or they will be deported from Britain." [4]

Members included many highly-decorated servicemen of WW 1, including Mosley himself. Mosley's primary aim, as he stated many times, was the abolition of war. This is especially emphasized in his autobiography, "My Life."

Claimed poor organisation and corruption

The historian Stephen Dorril has claimed that the BUF was chronically short of funds despite large contributions to the party from Mosely himself as well as from Mussolini and Hitler. Senior German National Socialists official are argued to have believed the BUF to be badly organised and corrupt.[5]

History

Oswald Mosley and other members of the British Union of Fascists.

The BUF claimed a membership as high as 50,000 at one point, and the Daily Mail was an early supporter, famously running the headline "Hurrah for the Blackshirts!".

Despite opposition from Jews, the Labour Party, the Communist Party of Great Britain, and others, the BUF still found a following in the East End of London, where in the London County Council elections of 1937 they obtained good results in their strongholds of Bethnal Green, Shoreditch and Limehouse. However, 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 the next General Election was not held until July 1945, by which time World War II in Europe had ended and the BUF had been banned.

Towards the middle of the 1930s, the BUF's violent clashes with opponents and its perceived alignment with the German NSDAP have been argued to have alienated some of its middle-class supporters. Membership decreased. At a rally in London, in 1934, BUF stewards became involved in a violent confrontation with militant communists, and this bad publicity caused the Daily Mail to withdraw its support from the party. A well-known event in 1936 was the Battle of Cable Street. The government passed the Public Order Act 1936, which banned political uniforms and required police consent for political marches.

BUF support for Edward VIII and the peace campaign to prevent a second World War saw membership and public support rise once more.

In 1937, William Joyce and other National Socialist sympathisers split from the party to form the National Socialist League.

In May 1940, the BUF was banned outright by the government and Mosley, along with 740 other fascists, was interned for much of the Second World War. This despite Mosley having counselled all BUF members to serve their country in loyalty -- which they did; several were active during the Battle of Britain.

After the war, Mosley made several unsuccessful attempts to return to politics, notably in the Union Movement.

BUF Anthem

The BUF Anthem strongly resembles the German Horst-Wessel-Lied (anthem of the NSDAP), and was set to the same tune.

The lyrics are as follows:

Comrades, the voices of the dead battalions,
Of those who fell that Britain might be great,
Join in our song, for they still march in spirit with us,
And urge us on to gain the fascist state!
(Repeat Last Two Lines)
We're of their blood, and spirit of their spirit,
Sprung from that soil for whose dear sake they bled,
Against vested powers, Red Front, and massed ranks of reaction,
We lead the fight for freedom and for bread!
(Repeat Last Two Lines)
The streets are still, the final struggle's ended;
Flushed with the fight we proudly hail the dawn!
See, over all the streets the fascist banners waving,
Triumphant standards of our race reborn!
(Repeat Last Two Lines)

Prominent members

Despite their relatively short period of operation the BUF attracted a number of prominent members and supporters. These included:

See also

References

Notes

  1. Tomorrow We Live (1938)
  2. Tomorrow We Live (1938), by Sir Oswald Mosley and http://www.oswaldmosley.com/audio/speeches.html entitled http://www.oswaldmosley.com/audio/speeches.html'
  3. The Times, Monday, Oct 01, 1934; pg. 14; Issue 46873; col C - Fascist Rally At Manchester Counter-Invective
  4. *The Times, Monday, Mar 25, 1935; pg. 16; Issue 47021; col D - Fascist Policy
  5. Oswald Mosley 'was a financial crook bankrolled by Nazis' http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1513465/Oswald-Mosley-was-a-financial-crook-bankrolled-by-Nazis.html

Further reading

  • Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism by Stephen Dorril

External links

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.