"he had close associations with organizations like the British Union of Fascists"
Sir Oswald Mosley, 6th Bt
Public DomainSir Oswald Mosley, 6th Bt - Credit: Glyn Warren Philpot

Sir Oswald Mosley (1896 -1980) was the founder of the New Party, which he formed in 1932 in reaction to the Labour Party's reluctance to implement his ideas for isolationist trade and economic policies to regenerate Britain. Having previously been a member of the Conservative party, he visited Italy to study the fascist model of Mussolini's government.

Mosley was impressed by fascism and believed that parliamentary democracy had to be replaced by a system of government that favoured collectivism over individualism and tight control of the electorate.

Battle of Cable Street Mural
Creative Commons AttributionBattle of Cable Street Mural - Credit: graham

Roger Scruton, in the Palgrave Macmillan Dictionary of Political Thought 3rd ed. (2007), writes:"Fascism is characterized by the following features (not all of which need be present in any of its recognized instances): nationalism; hostility to democracy, to egalitarianism, and to the values of the enlightenment; the cult of the leader, and admiration for his special qualities; a respect for collective organization, and a love of the symbols associated with it, such as uniforms, parades and army discipline."

On his return from Italy, Mosley dissolved the New Party and formed the nationalist, anti-Semitic British Union of Fascists (the Blackshirts), attracting widespread condemnation from socialists and liberals.

The Battle of Cable Street
Creative Commons AttributionThe Battle of Cable Street - Credit: T P Holland
The event most commonly associated with the BUF is the Battle of Cable Street, when anti-fascists from London's East End and elsewhere converged on Mosley and his Blackshirts and managed to obstruct a BUF march. There was a very high Jewish population in the East End in the 1930s (roughly 110,000), and the march would have been seen as inflammatory and provocative.

A commemorative plaque reads: THE BATTLE OF CABLE STREET The people of East London rallied to Cable Street on the 4th October 1936 and forced back the march of the fascist Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts through the streets of the East End. “THEY SHALL NOT PASS”