The Spirit of England - English Fascism

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

English Fascism refers to the form of fascism promoted by political parties and movements in England (and Britain).
English Fascism is based upon English nationalism
The major Fascist movements in England included the British Fascists, the British Union of Fascists, the National Socialist League and the Imperial Fascist League.

The British Fascists

The British Fascists
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
The British Fascists were the first political organisation in the United Kingdom to claim the label of fascist.
While the group had more in common with conservatism for much of its existence it nonetheless was the first to self-describe as fascist in Britain.
William Joyce, Neil Francis Hawkins, Maxwell Knight and Arnold Leese (see below) were amongst those to have passed through the movement as members and activists.

Rotha Lintorn-Orman
The British Fascists were formed in 1923 by Rotha Lintorn-Orman in the aftermath of Benito Mussolini's March on Rome, and originally operated under the Italian-sounding name British Fascisti.
Despite their name the group had a poorly defined ideological basis at their beginning, being brought into being more by a fear of left-wing politics than a devotion to fascism.
The ideals of the Boy Scout movement, with which many early members had also been involved in their younger days, also played an important role as the British Fascisti wished, to "uphold the same lofty ideas of brotherhood, service and duty".
At its formation at least the British Fascisti was positioned in the same right-wing conservative camp as the likes of the British Empire Union and the Middle Class Union and shared some members with these groups.
The group had a complex structure, being presided over by both an Executive Council and Fascist Grand Council of nine men, with County and Area Commanders controlling districts below this.
Districts contained a number of companies, which in turn were divided into troops with each troop made of three units and unit containing seven members under a Leader.
A separate structure existed along similar lines for the group's sizeable female membership.
Early membership largely came from high society, and included a number of women amongst its ranks, such as Dorothy Viscountess Downe, Lady Sydenham of Combe, Baroness Zouche and Nesta Webster.
Men from the nobility also joined, such as Lord Glasgow, the Marquess of Ailesbury, Lord Ernest Hamilton, Baron de Clifford, Earl Temple of Stowe, Arthur Henry Hardinge and Lord Garvagh, who served as first President of the movement.
High-ranking members of the armed forces also occupied leading roles in the group, with General Blakeney joined by the likes of General Ormonde Winter, Brigadier-General T. Erskine Tulloch, Admiral John Armstrong and Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew Burn, who combined a role on the Grand Council of the British Fascisti with that of Conservative Party MP for Torquay.
Serving military personnel were eventually banned from joining the group by the Army Council however.
At a more rank and file level the group attracted a membership of middle and working class young men.
This domination by disgruntled members of the peerage and high-ranking officers meant that certain concerns not normally associated with the demands of fascism, such as anger at the decline of the large landowning agricultural sector, the high levels of estate taxation and death duties and the dearth of high-ranking civilian occupations suitable for the status of officers, were a central feature of the political concerns advanced by the British Fascisti.

Early Development

The party confined itself to stewarding Conservative Party meetings, and canvassing for the party.
In particular they campaigned vigorously on behalf of Oliver Locker-Lampson, whose "Keep Out the Reds" campaign slogan struck a chord with the group's strong anti-communism.
The group changed its name from British Fascisti to British Fascists in 1924 in an attempt to distance itself from the Italian associations, although this move helped to bring about a split in the group with a more ideologically fascist group, the National Fascisti, going its own way.
The group's patriotism had been questioned because of the Italian spelling of the name, while accusations were also made that they were in the pay of the Italian government.
Despite its close association with elements of the Conservative Party, the British Fascists did occasionally run candidates in local elections.
In 1924 two of its candidates in the municipal elections in Stamford, Lincolnshire, Arnold Leese and Henry Simpson, managed to secure election to the local council.
Simpson would retain his seat in 1927 although by that stage both he and Leese had broken from the British Fascists.

The 1926 strike

The British Fascists began to take on a more prominent role in the run-up to the General Strike of 1926, as it became clear that their propaganda predicting such an outcome was due to come true.
They were not however permitted to join the Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies (OMS), a group established by the government and chaired by Lord Hardinge in order to mobilise a non-striking workforce in the event of general strike without first relinquishing any explicit attachment to fascism as the government insisted this group remain non-ideological.
The structure of the OMS was actually based on that of the British Fascists, although the government was unwilling to rely on the British Fascists, due both to what they saw as the group's unorthodox nature and their reliance on funding from Rotha Lintorn-Orman, and so excluded them as a group from the OMS.
As a result a further split occurred as a number of members, calling themselves the Loyalists and led by former BF President Brigadier-General Blakeney, did just that.
In the event the British Fascists formed their own Q Divisions which took on much of the same work as the OMS during the strike, albeit without having any official government recognition.
The strike severely damaged the party as it failed to precipitate the "Bolshevik Revolution" that Lintorn-Orman had set the party up to fight.
In fact the strike was largely peaceful and restrained, and fears of future outbreaks were quelled somewhat by the passing of the Trades Disputes Act.
Many of its most prominent members and supporters also drifted away from the group in the aftermath of the strike.
The party journal, initially called 'Fascist Bulletin' before changing its name to 'British Lion', went from a weekly to a monthly while the loss of a number of key leaders and the erratic leadership of Lintorn-Orman, brought about a decline of activity.
The group also became ravaged by factionalism, with one group following Lady Downe and the old ways of the British Fascists, and another centred around James Strachey Barnes and Sir Harold Elsdale Goad, advocating full commitment to a proper fascist ideology.


Having been hit hard by the split from the General Strike the British Fascists attempted to move gradually towards a more defined fascism, starting in 1927 by adopting a blue shirt and beret uniform in the style of similar movements in Europe.
The progress towards fascism did not however come quick enough for Arnold Leese who in 1928 split from the group to establish his own Imperial Fascist League (IFL) (see above), a much more hard-line group that emphasised anti-Semitism.
Before long however the British Fascists began to advocate a more authoritarian government in which the monarch would take a leading role in government, as well as advocating the establishment of a corporate state, policy changes made possible by the departure of Blakeney, who was committed to representative democracy and whose main economic opinion was opposition to the gold standard.
Even without Blakeney, they retained some of their earlier Conservative-linked views, such loyalty to the king, anti-trade union legislation, free trade within the British Empire and a general preference for the rural, although these were bolstered by fascist-influenced policies such as limiting the franchise, gradual purification of the "English race" and stringent restrictions on immigration and the activities of immigrants admitted to Britain, however the British Fascists actively encouraged comparisons with the Conservative Party, feeling that it would add a sense of legitimacy and Britishness to their activities, particularly as they faced harsh criticism from not only the left but also some Tories for their increasingly paramilitary structure.
Nonetheless some Tories were close to the group, with Charles Burn sitting on the Grand Council and support being lent by the likes of Patrick Hannon, Robert Tatton Bower, Robert Burton-Chadwick and Alan Lennox-Boyd.
Indeed in May 1925 Hannon even booked a chamber in the House of Commons to host an event for the British Fascists.
After 1931, they abandoned their attempts to form a distinctly British version of Fascism, and instead adopted the full programme of Mussolini and his National Fascist Party.
The already weakened group split further in 1932 over the issue of a merger with Oswald Mosley's New Party.
The proposal was accepted by Neil Francis Hawkins of the Headquarters Committee and his allies Lieutenant-Colonel H.W. Johnson and E.G. Mandeville Roe although the female leadership turned the proposal down due to objections over serving under Mosley.
Indeed the British Fascists had protested against public meetings being addressed by Mosley as early as 1927 when they denounced the then Labour MP as a dangerous socialist.
As a consequence Francis Hawkins broke away and took much of the male membership of the group with him with the New Party becoming the British Union of Fascists (BUF) soon afterwards.
Relations with the BUF were as a result frosty for the remainder of the group's life.
By this stage in their development the British Fascists' membership had plummeted with only a hardcore of members left.
Various schemes were floated in an attempt to reinvigorate the movement although none succeeded.
In a bid to reverse their decline the party adopted a strongly anti-semitic platform.
In 1933 Lord and Lady Downe, as representatives of the British Fascists, entertained Nazi German envoy Gunther Schmidt-Lorenzen at their country estate, and suggested to him that the National Socialists should avoid any links with Mosley, whom Lady Downe accused of being in the pay of Jewish figures such as Baron Rothschild and Sir Philip Sassoon.
Fellow member Madame Arnaud repreated similar allegations about Mosley to another German official, Dr Margarete Gartner of the Economic Policy Association, however by this stage Rotha Lintorn-Orman's mother had cut her off financially, and so the group fell into debt until being declared bankrupt in 1934 when a Colonel Wilson called in a £500 loan.
This effectively brought the British Fascists to a conclusion, with Rotha Lintorn-Orman dying the following year.

The Imperial Fascist League

Arnold Leese
The Imperial Fascist League
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
The Imperial Fascist League (IFL) was a British Fascist political movement founded by Arnold Leese in 1929.
Leese was born in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, England and educated at Giggleswick School.
An only child, his childhood was characterised by loneliness.
After qualifying as a veterinary surgeon, he accepted a post in India, where he became an expert on the camel.
He worked in India for six years before becoming Camel Specialist for the East Africa Protectorate of the British Empire.
He published articles on the camel and its maladies, the first appearing in 'The Journal of Tropical Veterinary Science' in 1909.
He was commissioned in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in 1914, serving on the Western Front and in the Middle East.
Captain Leese returned to England where he continued his practice, publishing 'A Treatise on the One-Humped Camel in Health and in Disease' (1927), which would remain a standard work in India for fifty years.
He settled in Stamford, Lincolnshire, practising as a vet until retirement in 1927.
In Stamford Leese became close to one of his neighbours, the economist Arthur Kitson, who was also a member of The Britons.
Kitson persuaded Leese that control of money was the key to power, and further convinced him that money was controlled by the Jews, with Kitson also supplying Leese with a copy of the 'Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion'.
As an animal lover Leese also claimed that the Jewish practice of 'kashrut' slaughter influenced his anti-Semitism.
Around the same time Leese also became interested in Italian fascism and, after writing a pamphlet entitled 'Fascism for Old England', he joined the British Fascists in 1924.
He also joined the Centre International d’Études sur la Fascisme, an Italian-led group aimed at the promotion of fascism internationally, and served as its British Correspondent.
He was elected a councillor in Stamford that year, along with fellow fascist Henry Simpson.
Leese left the British Fascists in 1928 and, having retired to Guildford, established his own Imperial Fascist League (IFL) the following year.

Imperial Fascist League Leadership
The movement was initially more along the lines of Italian fascism but under the influence of Henry Hamilton Beamish it soon came to focus on anti-Semitism.
The IFL and its extensive publishing interests were funded out of Leese's own pocket.
The Fascists Legions, a black-shirted paramilitary arm, was soon added under the command of Leslie H. Sherrard.
The group initially advocated such policies as corporatism, monetary reform and the removal of citizenship from Jews.
The group was initially led by Brigadier-General Erskine Tulloch, although real power lay with Leese, who was ratified as Director-General in 1932.
Henry Hamilton Beamish, head of The Britons, served as vice-president of the IFL and was a regular speaker at the movement's events.
The IFL soon shifted away from Italian fascism (they originally used the fasces as their emblem) after Leese met Julius Streicher in Germany.
Soon anti-Semitism became the central theme of IFL policy and their new programme, the 'Racial Fascist Corporate State', stressed the supremacy of the 'Aryan race'.
The IFL altered its flag so that it featured the Union Flag superimposed with the swastika.
As a result of this conversion the IFL enjoyed a higher profile, in large part due to the funding it received from the NSDAP, paid through the English correspondent of the 'Völkischer Beobachter', Dr. Hans Wilhelm Thost.
Indeed by the mid 1930s the IFL had turned against the Italian model so much that they denounced Benito Mussolini as a "pro-Semite", claiming that the Second Italo-Ethiopian War had been organised by the Jews.
In 1932 Robert Forgan approached the IFL and suggested that they should merge into Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, but the offer was declined.
Leese rejected any overtures from Mosely due to the latter's initial reluctance to make anti-Semitism a central theme.
One of their biggest differences was that the IFL held a biological view of anti-Semitism - that the Jews were inherently inferior as a race - in contrast to the BUF, whose eventual adoption of anti-Semitism was framed in ideas about the Jews supposed undue influence at the top echelons of society.
Although rejecting a merger with the BUF the IFL was linked to the 'Nordic League' through Commander E. H. Cole, a staunch advocate of the 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion', who served as chancellor of the League as well as being a leading IFL member.
Before long both Leese and P. J. Ridout also took out membership of this group, membership of which encompassed most shades of far right activity.
The outbreak of the Second World War caused the small group to fall apart as Leese declared loyalty to King and country and renamed the group the Angles Circle, but this stance was rejected by some pro-German members such as Tony Gittens, Harold Lockwood and Bertie Mills.
It proved to be academic however as in 1940 Leese was interned under Defence Regulation 18B and although he continued to be politically active after the war the IFL was not reformed.
His formation of the National Workers Movement in 1948 meant the final end for the IFL.

The British Union of Fascists

British Union of Fascists
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
The British Union of Fascists was a political party in the United Kingdom formed in 1932 by Oswald Mosley. In 1936, it changed its name to the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists and in 1937 to British Union which existed until 1940 when it was proscribed.

Sir Oswald Mosley
Sir Oswald Mosley

Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet (16 November 1896 – 3 December 1980) was an English politician.
He was a Member of Parliament for Harrow from 1918 to 1924, for Smethwick from 1926 to 1931 and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the Labour Government of 1929–31, a position he resigned due to his disagreement with the Labour Government's unemployment policies.
Mosley was the eldest of the three sons of Sir Oswald Mosley (5th Baronet) (1873–1928) and Katharine Maud Edwards-Heathcote (1874–1950).
His branch of the Mosley family was the Anglo-Irish family at its most prosperous, landowners in Staffordshire seated at Rolleston Hall near Burton-upon-Trent.
In a senior aristocratic Georgian intermarriage, his father was a third cousin to the Earl of Strathmore, father of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who served alongside the King-Emperor George VI as Queen-Empress Consort.
Mosley was born on 16 November 1896 at 47, Hill Street, Mayfair, Westminster.
After his parents separated he was brought up by his mother, who 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 in the post town of Newcastle-under-Lyme also in Staffordshire.

Lord Curzon of Kedleston
Viceroy of India,
Lady Cynthia Curzon
and Sir Oswald Mosley
On 11 May 1920 he married Lady Cynthia Curzon (known as 'Cimmie'), (1898–1933), second daughter of George Curzon, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, (1859–1925), Viceroy of India, 1899–1905, Foreign Secretary, 1919–1924, and Lord Curzon's first wife, the U.S. 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 - arguably the social event of the year.
The hundreds of guests included European royalty such as King George V and Queen Mary; and Leopold III and Astrid of Sweden, future King and Queen of Belgium.
Mosley had three children by Cynthia:
Vivien Mosley (1921–2002), who married on 15 January 1949 Desmond Francis Forbes Adam (1926–58), educated at Eton College and at King's College, University of Cambridge, by whom she had two daughters
Nicholas Mosley (later 7th Baronet of Ancoats; born 1923), a successful novelist who wrote a biography of his father and edited his memoirs for publication; and
Michael Mosley (born 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 U.S.-born second wife and widow of Lord Curzon of Kedleston.
He succeeded to the Baronetcy of Ancoats on his father's death in 1928, which entitles the current holder to the prefix style Sir.
Cynthia died of peritonitis in 1933, after which Mosley married his mistress Diana Guinness, née Mitford (1910–2003). They married in secret in Germany on 6 October 1936 in the Berlin home of Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels. Adolf Hitler was one of the guests.
By Diana, he had two sons:
Oswald Alexander Mosley (born 1938), father of Louis Mosley (born 1983); and
Max Mosley (born 1940), who was president of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) for 16 years.

Winchester College
West Downs School

Mosley was educated at West Downs School and Winchester College.

Royal Military College, Sandhurst
In January 1914 he entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.
During the First World War he was commissioned into 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 pain.
He spent the remainder of the war at desk jobs in the Ministry of Munitions and in the Foreign Office.
By the end of the First World War, Mosley had decided to go into politics as a Conservative Member of Parliament, due to the War having had no university or practical experience.
He was 21 years of age and had not fully developed his own politics.
He was driven by, and in Parliament spoke of, a passionate conviction to avoid any future war, and this seemingly motivated his career.
Largely because of his family background and war service, local Conservative and Labour Associations preferred Mosley in several constituencies - a vacancy near the family estates seemed to be the best prospect, however, he was unexpectedly 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, though Joseph Sweeney, an abstentionist Sinn Féin member, was younger.
He soon distinguished himself as an orator and political player, one marked by extreme self-confidence, and 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 to sit as an Independent Member 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.
By 1924 he was growing increasingly attracted to the Labour Party, which had just formed a government, and in March he joined it.
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.
Mosley campaigned aggressively in Ladywood; and accused Chamberlain of being a "landlords' hireling".
The outraged Chamberlain demanded that Mosley retract the claim "as a gentleman".
Mosley, whom Stanley Baldwin described as "a cad and a wrong 'un", refused to retract the allegation.
It took several recounts before Chamberlain was declared the winner by 77 votes and Mosley blamed poor weather for the result.
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, including claims that he was covering up his wealth.
Mosley and his wife Cynthia were committed Fabians in the 1920s, and at the start of the 1930s.


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', which called for high tariffs to protect British industries from international finance, for state nationalisation of main industries, and for a programme of public works to solve unemployment, however, it was rejected by the Cabinet, and in May 1930 Mosley resigned from his ministerial position.
At the time, the weekly Liberal-leaning 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."
In October he attempted to persuade the Labour Party Conference to accept the Memorandum, but was defeated again.
Thirty years later, in 1961, R. H. S. Crossman described the memorandum: "... this brilliant memorandum was a whole generation ahead of Labour thinking."

The New Party

Dissatisfied with the Labour Party, Mosley quickly founded the New Party.
Its early parliamentary contests, in the 1931 Ashton-under-Lyne by-election and subsequent by-elections, arguably had a spoiler effect in splitting the left-wing vote and allowing Conservative candidates to win.
Despite this, the organisation gained support among many Labour and Conservative politicians who agreed with his corporatist economic policy, and among these were Aneurin Bevan and Harold Macmillan.
It also gained the endorsement of the Daily Mail newspaper, headed at the time by Harold Harmsworth (later created 1st Viscount Rothermere).
The New Party increasingly inclined to fascist policies, but Mosley was denied the opportunity to get his party established when during the Great Depression the 1931 Election was suddenly called - the party's candidates, including Mosley himself, lost the seats they held and won none.
As the New Party gradually became more radical and authoritarian, and as critics of the fascists in the Spanish Civil War emerged in the press, art and literature, many previous supporters defected from it.
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 Britain.

The British Union of Fascists

After a January 1932 visit to Benito Mussolini in Italy, Mosley's own conversion to fascism was confirmed.
He wound up the New Party in April, but preserved its youth movement, which would form the core of the BUF, intact.
He spent the summer that year writing a fascist programme, 'The Greater Britain', and this formed the basis of policy of the BUF, which was launched in October 1932.
Mosley was determined to unite the existing fascist movements, and created the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932.
The BUF was protectionist, strongly anti-communist, and nationalistic to the point of advocating authoritarianism.
It claimed membership as high as 50,000, and had the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror among its earliest supporters.
The Mail continued to support the BUF until the Olympia rally in June 1934.
Among Mosley's supporters at this time were the novelist Henry Williamson, military theorist J. F. C. Fuller and 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 confrontations, particularly with Communist and Jewish groups and especially in London.
At a large Mosley rally at Olympia on 7 June 1934 hecklers were removed by Blackshirts, resulting in bad publicity.
This 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.
At length Sir Philip Game the 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 wards in East London (some former New Party seats), its strongest areas, polling up to a quarter of the vote, and Mosley made most of the Blackshirt employees redundant, some of whom then defected from the party with William Joyce.
As the European situation moved towards war, the BUF began to nominate Parliamentary by-election 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, a stance popularly acceptable but after the invasion of Norway and the commencement of aerial bombardment (The Blitz) overall public opinion of him turned to hostility.

Early Success

The BUF claimed 50,000 members at one point and the Daily Mail was an early supporter, running the headline "Hurrah for the Blackshirts!"
Despite strong resistance from anti-fascists, including the local Jewish community, the Labour Party, the Independent Labour Party and the Communist Party of Great Britain, the BUF found a following in the East End of London, where in the London County Council elections of March 1937 it obtained reasonably successful results in Bethnal Green, Shoreditch and Limehouse, polling almost 8,000 votes, although none of its candidates was elected, however, the BUF never stood in a General Election. Having lost the funding of newspaper magnate Lord Rothermere that it previously enjoyed, at the 1935 General Election the party urged voters to abstain, calling for "Fascism Next Time".
There never was a "next time", as the next General Election was not held until July 1945, five years after the dissolution of the BUF.
Towards the middle of the 1930s, the BUF's violent clashes with opponents began to alienate some middle-class supporters, and membership decreased.
At the Olympia rally in London, in 1934, BUF stewards ejected anti-fascist disrupters, and this led the Daily Mail to withdraw its support for the movement. 
The level of disruption at the rally shocked many, with the effect of turning neutral parties against the BUF and contributing to anti-fascist support.
Mosley spent large amounts of his private fortune on the British Union of Fascists (BUF - see below))  and tried to establish it on a firm financial footing by means including an attempt to negotiate, through Diana, with Adolf Hitler for permission to broadcast commercial radio to Britain from Germany.
Mosley reportedly struck a deal in 1937 with Francis Beaumont, heir to the Seigneur of Sark, to set up a privately owned radio station on Sark.

Later Years and Legacy

The BUF briefly drew away from mainstream politics and towards anti-Semitism over 1934-1935 due to the growing influence of National Socialist sympathisers such as William Joyce and John Beckett within the party, which saw the resignation of members such as Dr. Robert Forgan.
This resulted in membership dropping to below 8,000 by the end of 1935 and, ultimately, Mosley shifted the party's focus back to mainstream politics.
The party continued to clash with anti-fascists, most famously at the Battle of Cable Street in October 1936, when organised anti-fascists prevented the BUF from marching through Cable Street, however, the party later staged other marches through the East End without incident.
BUF support for Edward VIII and the peace campaign to prevent a second World War saw membership and public support rise once more.
The government was sufficiently concerned by the party's growing prominence to pass the Public Order Act 1936, which banned political uniforms and required police consent for political marches.
In 1937, William Joyce and other National Socialist sympathisers split from the party to form the National Socialist League, which quickly folded, with most of its members interned.
Mosley later denounced Joyce, and condemned him for his extreme anti-semitism.
By 1939, total BUF membership was probably approaching 20,000.
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.
After the war, Mosley made several unsuccessful attempts to return to politics, notably in the Union Movement.

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