Paul Cox, Summer 1999
The internment of British fascists in the Summer of 1940 under Defence Regulation 18b had all but destroyed organised fascism in Britain. Upon his succession of power following the debacle of the German occupation of Norway in March of that year, Winston Churchill had desired that all enemy aliens and members of organisations under foreign control or influence be interned, but the Home Office under the guidance of Sir John Anderson advised against any such moves. By May however, Anderson too was demanding that Churchill "intern enemy aliens, fascists and communists as security risks", (Robert Skidelsky 'Oswald Mosley' 1975,p447).
The inference of foreign control or influence was however ambiguous to say the least, given that no members of the Communist Party were to be interned in spite of the on-going Nazi-Soviet pact, although the 'Daily Worker' had been banned as a warning to the Communists. This situation was to change in the Summer of 1941 when the German army invaded the Soviet Union, and the Communist Party became pro-war once again.
Thurlow has suggested that the security services were more concerned with the pro-nazi sentiments coming from within the establishment rather than the fascist movement and that "rumours abound about MI6 bonfires and the shredding of files" (p179). Moreover Thurlow has acknowledged that fascists became "scapegoats, part of the so-called fifth column which was aiding the enemy" (p181), (Richard Thurlow 'The Mosley Papers and the Secret History of British Fascism 1939-1940' in 'Traditions of Intolerance' edited by Tony Kushner/Kenneth Lunn 1989, p179-181); and that more importantly "the vast majority of interned fascists were...not engaged in subversive or terrorist activities", (Richard Thurlow 'Fascism in Britain 1918-1985' 1987, p190). Benewick meanwhile put a slightly different angle on the internments from that of Thurlow, suggesting that the fascists had been detained because "They were preaching anti-war propaganda and anti-Semitism at a time when Great Britain was nearing a crisis", (Robert Benewick 'The Fascist Movement in Britain' 1972, p295).
However when MI5 uncovered a connection between British fascists and Tyler Kent and subsequently arrested him on May 20, the situation changed drastically, and the mass internment without trial of 1,300 fascists began. Those interned included Sir Oswald Mosley, Admiral Sir Barry Domvile, Maule Ramsay MP, John Beckett and Arnold Leese.
Sir Oswald Mosley had formed the British Union of Fascists in October 1932, simultaneously publishing his manifesto entitled 'The Greater Britain'. A former MP for both the Conservative Party (1918-24) and the Labour Party (1924- 30), Mosley formed his own short-lived New Party in 1931 with fellow former Labour MP's. The New Party was intended to accord the electorate with a 'third position' which was neither 'left-wing' nor 'right-wing', but devastation at the polls in the 1931 general election along with the extreme opposition to the New Party from an alliance of organised Jewish and Communist groups, caused the fledgling party to fold.
In early January 1932 Mosley visited Italy, having previously declared on August 1 1927 that "the greatest danger to peace in Europe is the growth of Fascist power in Italy", (Oswald Mosley cited in Eugen Weber 'Varieties of Fascism' 1964, p110), and was this time inspired by Benito Mussolini and his fascist creed, and the British Union of Fascists was duly formed.
It is now acknowledged that Mosley received funding from Mussolini between 1933 and 1936, an allegation which Mosley himself refuted. A Parliamentary inquiry into the allegation in 1940 inferred that there was "no foreign money of any kind whatsoever coming into that organisation", ('Hansard' 10/12/40 Volume 367 Column 839). However the charge resurfaced after the war when the then Labour Home Secretary J Chuter Ede repeated in the House of Commons on June 6 1946, the allegation that Mussolini had funded Mosley.
Later that year Mosley approached several fascist groups with a view to their amalgamation/merger into the British Union of Fascists, and naturally due to his own status Mosley was insistent upon subordination and acceptance of himself as leader. These moves had some success, indeed in May 1932 the British Fascisti only voted against a merger by one vote. In spite of this apparent defeat Mosley was successful in that the key BF committee member Neil Francis-Hawkins amongst others resigned and joined Mosley's BUF, but as we shall later see Mosley's merger talks were not always successful.
In 1933 senior officials of the BUF attended the Nuremberg Rally, including William Joyce and Alexander Raven Thompson, and were likewise influenced by what they saw taking shape in Germany. Mosley himself never attended any of the rallies, but received detailed accounts of them from his lieutenants, and by 1936 the BUF had been renamed the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists.
Mosley and his Blackshirts were met by an increasingly militant anti-fascism, which ultimately led to violent confrontation. Mosley was no stranger to political violence and believed it "necessary to meet violence with self-defence in order to save free speech in Britain", (Oswald Mosley 'My Life' 1968, p136). Mosley's Olympia rally on June 6 1934 had been infiltrated by anti-fascists only to be violently ejected by Mosley's Blackshirts. Two years later a rally at Hyde Park on September 9 1936 of some 3,000 fascists was opposed by a counter-demonstration of over 20,000 anti-fascists, and on October 4 a march by supporters of the British Union was met by a counter demonstration of some 100,000 anti-Fascists culminating in what was to become known as the Battle of Cable Street.
The end result of the political violence of 1936 was the Public Order Act, which became effective on January 1 1937. The Act offered the State and the Police a wide range of restraints including the prohibition of the wearing of uniform in public places and the formation of paramilitary forces; and the right to ban marches likely to result in a breach of the peace. The obvious conjecture of Mosley was that the Public Order Act 1936 was designed specifically to hinder the progress of the British Union.
Anti-fascists would of course argue otherwise, that it was they and not the fascists that were the more likely recipients of any police clampdown, and their case was ably supported by the National Campaign for Civil Liberties, although this is now recognized as having been set up as a Communist Party front. It would be fair to say that the attitude of the police on the streets does appear to validify these claims, indeed all the statistics prove that more anti-fascists were arrested than fascists. However Thurlow has correctly shown us that this does not reflect the wider picture.
From his reading of released Home Office papers he tells us that successive Metropolitan Police Commissioners were in favour of banning fascist organisations. In 1934 Lord Trenchard had wanted to "ban the fascists because of the public order problems they presented", whilst his successor Sir Philip Game urged the Home Secretary to "outlaw political anti-Semitism and ban the fascist movement", (Richard Thurlow 'State Management of the BUF in the 1930's ' in 'The Failure of British Fascism' edited by Mike Cronin 1996, p38). It is worth mentioning at this point that not all the violence was anti-fascist against fascist and vice versa, something on which we shall elaborate shortly.
In 1937 Mosley decided to chance his hand at the ballot box, but failure at the local polls resulted only in a culling of full-time staff, including John Beckett and William Joyce. It was a streamlining operation, but Mosley would later claim that Beckett, Joyce and soon afterwards Chesterton, had been sacked because of their excessive anti-Semitism, a ludicrous claim alas still taken as fact by some academics.
There can be no doubting that the defeat did have an adverse effect on the finances of the BUF, shortly afterwards Mussolini's funding ceased, but the culling was seen by MI5 as a victory for Francis-Hawkins and his Blackshirt clique, for both Beckett and Joyce had opposed the Blackshirts running on semi-military lines. Ever since as early as 1934 the BUF had been split along factional lines, each competing for Mosley's support, the departure of Beckett, Joyce and Chesterton, was to show us Mosley's chosen path.
Admiral Sir Barry Domvile had been the Director of Naval Intelligence 1927-30 and President of the Royal Naval College 1932-34. His politics during this time were somewhat eccentric, he was of course right-wing, but as Griffiths has observed he seemed obsessed with social freedom and canvassed ardently for the "rights of the motorist" and "hated pub closing hours". More importantly Domvile "did not believe strongly in the communist threat" and his views on Jews were "very muddled", (Richard Griffiths 'Fellow Travellers of the Right' 1980, p180), although more recently Griffiths appears to have altered his views on the latter, suggesting that Domvile had "always been convinced of the virtues of Hitler and the Third Reich, and of the baneful influence of the Jews", (Richard Griffiths 'Patriotism Perverted: Ramsay, the Right Club and British Anti-Semitism 1939-1940', 1998, p42).
During this time Domvile visited Germany on numerous occasions, and in both 1936 and 1937 had attended the Nuremberg Rallies as a guest of Joachim von Ribbentrop, the then German Ambassador to Britain. Domvile was also impressed by Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsfuhrer SS, whom he had met while been feted by the Germans. In July 1937 Domvile formed the Link, an assortment of pro-Nazi enthusiasts not unlike the more respected Anglo-German Fellowship.
Domvile based his group around the publication 'Anglo-German Review' which had been launched with some success the previous November, and which has since been described as a having been a "mouthpiece for Dr Goebbels", (Nigel West 'MI5 British Security Service Operations 1909-1945' 1981, p92). Whilst this might be an embellishment of the truth, Goebbels did attempt to canvass the Link to a certain extent by his use of Philip Spranklin, a one-time member of the British Union of Fascists and by this time a member of Goebbels Munich Press Office, who addressed a meeting of the Link on the subject of the press and its distortion of German news.
Upon the outbreak of war on September 4 1939 Domvile dissolved the Link, and in a letter to the Daily Telegraph Domvile claimed that, "The Link is closed down and the organisation dissolved. Naturally we closed down on the declaration of war. That was essential. The King's enemies became our enemies", ('Daily Telegraph' 7/9/1939). However, within a week leading members of the Link, including Domvile himself, were engaged in secret meetings with representatives of the British Peoples Party.
Like Domvile, Captain Archibald Maule Ramsay MP had been a founder member of the Link. A Unionist MP since 1931, Ramsay appears to have had an "uneventful" political career up until 1937 when he became "suddenly aware of the Communist menace", after such time he constantly addressed Parliament on communist subversion, (Richard Griffiths 'Fellow Travellers of the Right' 1980, p353).
Like Domvile, Ramsay was initially not predisposed to Nazi anti-Semitism. In 1937 however he became an advocate of the supposition that communism was Jewish in origin. In addition to his membership of the Link, Ramsay formed his own short-lived group the Right Club in May 1939 which he was to later claim was formed "to take up the task of opposing and exposing the Jewish menace", (Captain Archibald Ramsay 'The Nameless War' 1952, p97).
Ramsay's apparent obsession with the Jewish issue was to cause him problems within his Peebleshire constituency in 1939, but according to Griffiths he was to receive support from of all places Nazi Germany, including from "the Nazi organ, the 'Volkischer Beobachter', which published a front-page account, describing Ramsay as having been attacked for 'telling the truth about the Jews',and asserting that this proved 'the mighty influence of Jewry in England'", (Richard Griffiths 'Patriotism Perverted: Ramsay, the Right Club and British Anti-Semitism 1939-1940', 1998, p103-104).
Right Club membership consisted of a cross section of extremists from other groups including the Nordic League, of which Ramsay himself was a member, the National Socialist League, the Militant Christian Patriots, but significantly not of the British Union of Fascists, although Ramsay and Mosley were to later attempt to join forces.
The Right Club folded however following the outbreak of war, but not before becoming embroiled in the events which led to the mass internments. Ramsay's Right Club and Domvile's Link had been infiltrated by amongst others MI5 agent Joan Miller (Miss X) on the edict of Charles Henry Maxwell Knight. As a result of this, and in spite of Kent having a definite link with Ramsay through both his membership of the Right Club, and his friendship with Anna Wolkoff, neither group posed any real threat.
It has been suggested by Kushner that "Ramsay and the Right Club had been considering a fascist coup d'etat", (Tony Kushner 'The Paradox of Prejudice:The Impact of Organised Anti-Semitism in Britain During an Anti-Nazi War' in 'Traditions of Intolerance' edited by Tony Kushner/Kenneth Lunn 1989, p74). It is however, fatuous to suggest that this was anything but a pipe dream in the mind of Ramsay, and that such a claim by Kushner is of no historical relevance.
In the cases of both Ramsay and Domvile, Thurlow is highly critical. Regarding the Right Club and Ramsay, Thurlow implies that "the response of the government to the Tyler Kent affair was that of taking a sledge-hammer to crack a nut"; whilst Domvile's eventual internment was, according to Thurlow, "mainly as a result of the allegations of an unknown agent whom MI5 had produced...and whose credibility and veracity were never tested" (Richard Thurlow 'Fascism in Britain 1918-1985' 1987, p207).
John Beckett had been the one-time Independent Labour Party MP (1924-1931), turned member of Mosley's British Union of Fascists. Perhaps Beckett's most notorious act as an MP was his removal of the Mace from the Chamber of the House of Commons on July 17 1930, the first person to do so since Oliver Cromwell. Beckett left the ILP in May 1933, claiming quite rightly that the ILP had been all but destroyed by the Labour Party and the Communist Party.
Already by this time an admirer of Mussolini having visited Italy in the Summer of 1930, a visit that had caused him to revise his opinion of fascism, Beckett was not eager to join Mosley's english variant of fascism, considering Mosley "a spoilt young careerist, with more money and ego than sense", (Francis Beckett 'The Rebel Who Lost His Cause:The Tragedy of John Beckett MP' 1999, p95). However two of Mosley's closest aides WED Allen and Dr Robert Forgan were to play a key role in persuading him to join the BUF.
Following his fallout with Mosley, Beckett left the BUF and formed the National Socialist League with William Joyce, but this too was to be a short-lived alliance, Beckett resigning the following year in opposition to Joyce's obsessive Hitler worship. Likewise Joyce's anti-Semitism has been described as "so violent, bitter and obsessive that it frightened away both John and Chesterton", (Francis Beckett 'The Rebel Who Lost His Cause:The Tragedy of John Beckett MP' 1999, p151).
Beckett launched a new monthly journal 'the New Pioneer' in December 1938, amongst whose contributors was one Arthur Kenneth Chesterton, and in April 1939 Beckett formed the British Peoples Party with Lord Tavistock. Chesterton was himself one of the original members of the BPP committee, but had resigned by the time of the inaugural meeting on April 28. Whilst interned Beckett would claim to have been framed by agent provocateurs, and was likewise not pleased to remain interned whilst his cohort in the BPP, Lord Tavistock (later the Duke of Bedford), remained a free man.
Arnold Spenser Leese had formed the Imperial Fascist League in November 1928 as an outlet for his rabid anti-Semitism, which he had acquired after being influenced by Arthur Kitson of the Britons. A veterinary surgeon by profession, Leese claims to have been a political neophyte before coming under the influence of Kitson. Leese had for a short period been a member of the British Fascisti.
Leese's initial stance on Jews was that they, like all foreigners, "as aliens...should be treated as second class citizens", (Gisela Lebzelter 'Political Anti-Semitism in England 1918-1939' 1978, p74). By the Spring of 1930 Leese began to equate Jewry with Communism, Freemasonry and International Finance, and subsequent IFL meetings addressed the subject of "Continental Freemasonry" and "The Jew Menace", ('The Fascist' No 14 April 1930, p2).
Like with all other fascist groups in Britain, Mosley had hoped to merge the Imperial Fascist League within the BUF, but his attempts at winning over Leese and the IFL were not successful, indeed the situation between Mosley and Leese was ably described by Thurlow who wrote that "To Leese, Mosley was a 'kosher fascist', a Jewish agent planted to discredit the whole concept of fascism in Britain; to Mosley, Leese was no more than an anti-Semitic crank", (Richard Thurlow 'Fascism in Britain: A History 1918-1985' 1987, p97).
The animosity between the two groups would later come to a head when the BUF used violence to destroy an IFL meeting in November 1933, during which rubber truncheons and knuckle-dusters were used, and Leese himself was beaten up by Mosley's Blackshirts. Although Mosley is alleged to have disciplined his followers for this outbreak of fascist on fascist violence, this was not an isolated incident; the Blackshirts also attacked the British United Fascists (1933), the Social Credit Greenshirts (1936) and the National Socialist League (1937).
In 1933 the Imperial Fascist League adopted the swastika as its official emblem, as much to distinguish itself from Mosley's Blackshirts as to clone Hitler and his Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (NSDAP). Nevertheless, Leese did view the swastika as a symbol which would unite the white races in its' "determination finally to root out the Jewish pestilence from our midst", ('The Swastika Symbol: What It Means', IFL leaflet circa 1934, cited in Gisela Lebzelter 'Political Anti-Semitism in England 1918-1939' 1978, p76-77).
IFL delegates had attended the 1935 and 1936 Nuremberg Rallies at the invitation of Julius Streicher, and the Brown House in Munich had translated IFL literature into several languages. Indeed Beckman went as far as to suggest that Leese had "visited Germany and developed a strong friendship" with Streicher, (Morris Beckman 'The 43 Group' 1992, p207-208), although Leese himself claims to have "never set foot in Germany", (Arnold Leese 'Out of Step' 1947, p65). Given the array of inaccuracies within Beckmans book, such as his noting that the IFL was founded in 1947, we have no cause to doubt Leese. This was after all the man who during the Nuremberg Trials had offered himself as a witness for the defence, and in 1947 was gaoled for 8 months for his role in assisting 2 dutch Waffen SS prisoners of war who had escaped in their attempt to flee to Argentina. Why then hide a little thing such as his ever having visited Germany ?
Nevertheless save one or two individual donations from German Nazis based in London, acknowledged by Leese within the pages of the IFL publication 'The Fascist' (No 23 April 1931, p3), the IFL received no funding. Leese had also been impressed by Mussolini's Fasci Italiani di Combattamento (Italian Fascist Party), but unlike the BUF had received no funding, at the most there was influence through ideological imitation but not foreign control.
In his psychoanalytical study of fascism Billig described the IFL as "extreme in its' anti-Semitism and glorification of violence...its' main activity was issuing propaganda which was equal only to Streicher's in nastiness", (Michael Billig 'Fascists' 1978, p112). Griffiths superior unfeigned treatise refers to "an atmosphere of inspired lunacy about many of its' pronouncements", (Richard Griffiths 'Fellow Travellers of the Right' 1980, p101). The reference to Streicher, the then Gauleiter of Nuremberg, would doubtless be a depiction which Leese himself would have found complimentary, indeed Leese had promoted 'Der Sturmer', Streicher's anti-Semitic hate sheet. More recently, Eatwell has described Leese and the IFL as "a talking shop for cranks" and part of the "one-man-and-his-dog" fringe movements, (Roger Eatwell 'Fascism: A History' 1995, p179). This analysis of Leese as insignificant rather ignores the important influence that he was to play on a later key figure in the neo-Nazi movement, Colin Jordan.
Contemporary fascist sympathisers have suggested that Leese possessed a "wry, indeed zany sense of humour", ('Fascism in England 1928-40' 1997, p9). A sense of humour indeed ? Perhaps some might find Leese's quip "Definition of a Bad Jew - July 2nd 1939, Philip Sassoon, Definition of a Good Jew - July 4th 1939, the late Philip Sassoon", ('The Fascist' No 122 July 1939), wry, even zany ? But what of his earlier anti-Semitic outburst that "the most certain and permanent way of disposing of the Jews would be to exterminate them by some humane method such as the lethal chamber", ('The Fascist' No 69 February 1935, p3, cited in Gisela Lebzelter 'Political Anti-Semitism in England 1918-1939' 1978, p81). Is this Leese's' humour or a serious political proposal for genocide ?
Fascism in Britain undoubtedly strengthened communism through the creation of a united anti-fascist front, which was can unequivacally say was under communist influence if not control. These fronts attracted individuals who under no other circumstances would share a platform with communists. A similar such strategy was to be followed by communists in the late 1970's with the formation of the Anti-Nazi League.
The upshot of the imagery of the survivors of the concentration camps was that public opinion detested all movements which appeared sympathetic to Fascist or Nazi ideology. The salient aspersion made against fascists was "a tendency to equate any extreme right-wingism with the horrors of the extermination camps", (Neil Nugent 'Post-war Fascism ?' in 'British Fascism' edited by Kenneth Lunn/Richard Thurlow 1980, p210), and hence a "supposed commitment to the physical extermination of Jewry", (Richard Thurlow 'Fascism in Britain: A History 1918-1985' 1987, p236).
David Lewis correctly suggested that due to the failure of the Luftwaffe to gain control over British airspace and the later German invasion of the Soviet Union, there was "little scope therefore, for effective fifth columnist activities", therefore the continued detainment under 18b was "punitive rather than simply preventative", (David Lewis 'Illusions of Grandeur...Mosley, Fascism and British Society' 1987, p236.
The decision to monitor fascist activities had been taken at a conference at the Home Office on November 23 1933, attended by Home Office officials, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Trenchard, two senior officials from MI5 and Superintendent Canning of Special Branch.
Tyler Kent had been a cypher clerk at the US Embassy. Kent had been of some concern to MI5 for some time because of his array of suspect contacts. Amongst his close contacts were Ludwig Matthias a suspected Gestapo agent; Anna Wolkoff, the fanatical anti-semite and anti-communist daughter of the ex-Tsarist Naval Attaché Admiral Nicholas Wolkoff, the Wolkoffs were suspected of having involuntary NKVD connections (NKVD = People's Commassariat of Internal Affairs); and of course Ramsay and the Right Club. Found in Kent's possession during the MI5 raid was the Red Book, the secret listing of Ramsay's Right Club, given to Kent for safe keeping only weeks earlier.
See Ray Bearse/Anthony Read 'Conspirator' (1991) for an indepth look at the career/case of Tyler Kent. A shorter analysis was written by David Irving 'Tyler Gatewood Kent: The Many Motives of a Misguided Cypher Clerk' in 'Focal Point' 23 November 1981, p3-10; and another short analysis was published in 'The Journal of Historical Review' vol 4 no. 2, p173-203, the latter is provided on line by the Institute for Historical Review at Tyler Kent.
'The Greater Britain'...
The full text of Mosley's manifesto is available on-line at 'The Greater Britain'.
Mussolini's funding of Mosley was acknowledged by historian David Irving, (see 'Focal Point' 30 October 1981). More recently it has been suggested that Dino Grandi, the then Italian Ambassador in London, had written a letter to Mussolini on March 1 1935, recommending funding of 3.5 million lire (£60,000) per year, (see Richard Lamb 'Mussolini and the British' 1997, p92). It is now widely accepted that Mussolini funded the BUF to the tune of £40000 a year in 1933 and 1934, £3000 a month in 1935 and £1000 a month in 1936, by which time his support faltered.
Significantly in 1935 when Mussolini invaded Abyssinia, the BUF launched the 'Mind Britain's Business' campaign in support of Mussolini, "a true quid pro quo, the price of foreign funding", (Richard Thurlow 'Fascism in Britain 1918-1985' 1987, p138). Incidently, contrary to Skidelsky's suggestion that this campaign was orchestrated by Mosley was in actual fact the mastermind of John Beckett, indeed when the campaign was started Mosley was still in Italy.
The British Fascisti had been formed in May 1923 by one Rotha Lintorn Orman. Writing of the membership of the British Fascisti, Eatwell suggested "little if anything about these supporters which could reasonably be termed 'fascist' other than a vague desire for dictatorship and a willingness to use violence against the 'dangerous' left", (Roger Eatwell 'Fascism: A History' 1995, p176). Leese himself had earlier come to the same conclusion, "I found that there was no Fascism, as I understood it, in the organisation which was merely Conservatism with Knobs On", (Arnold Leese 'Out of Step' 1947, p49), a definition recently mimicked by Thurlow who suggested that the BF represented "little more than macho conservatism in fancy dress", (Richard Thurlow 'Fascism' 1999, p63). The biggest claim to fame for the British Fascisti was the kidnapping in March 1925 of Harry Pollitt, the leader of the British Communist Party.
Neil Francis-Hawkins had started his political life inside the British Fascisti. Won over by Mosley's argument he took with him the rump of the BF into the British Union of Fascists, he would also bring into the BUF his advocacy of political violence, as Thurlow points out "Francis-Hawkins constantly argued "the importance of developing the 'Blackshirts' and semi-military psychology, and contended that bands, uniforms, marches and general discipline were more effective than clearly defined political programmes", (Richard Thurlow 'Fascism in Britain: A History 1918-1985' 1987, p142).
William Joyce would later rise to fame as Lord Haw-Haw following his move to Germany in 1939 and his subsequent broadcasting of nazi propaganda known as the 'Germany Calling' programmes. Joyce got wind of his impending internment, and fled to Germany, and it has been suggested that "the tip-off came from an officer in MI5, probably Maxwell Knight, for whom Joyce had in the past provided information on the Communist Party", (Richard Griffiths 'Patriotism Perverted: Ramsay, the Right Club and British Anti-Semitism 1939-1940', 1998, p169). The german connection had presented itself to Joyce by way of his friendship with one Christian Bauer, a member of Goebbels Propaganda Ministry, whom Joyce had met in London.
In spite of been American born of Irish ancestory, Joyce was found guilty of treason after the was and was hanged on the morning of January 3 1946. For a good account of similar cases of treason, see Adrian Weale 'Renegades - Hitler's Englishmen' 1994).
Battle of Cable Street...
Ironically, and in spite of anti-fascist claims alleging that it was the entire local community that opposed Mosley at Cable Street, the BUF still polled 23 per cent in the Cable Street constituency of Bethnal Green just six months later. A selection of the media coverage surrounding these events is available on-line at Battle of Cable Street.
Mosley has suggested that his Blackshirts were "engaged in a military operation against the highly trained guerrillas of communism", (Oswald Mosley 'My Life' 1968, p308). Skidelsky alludes to the "disruption by Jews of fascist meetings and physical assaults of Blackshirts", (Robert Skidelsky 'Reflections on Mosley and British Fascism' in 'British Fascism' edited by Kenneth Lunn/Richard Thurlow 1980, p85).
Lebzelter, whilst acknowledging the "systematically organised" anti-fascist campaign, further adds "but this did not warrant the indiscriminate use of violence by a private uniformed guard", (Gisela Lebzelter 'Political Anti-Semitism in England 1918-1939' 1978, p106).
For an objective view of the career of Mosley, see Robert Skidelsky 'Oswald Mosley' (1975), or alternatively see 'League Sentinel' No 32 November 1996, p1-20 for a brief contemporary fascist view of the career of Mosley. Alternatively see Sir Oswald Mosley 'My Life' (1968), although this is a lengthy insipid egotistical memoir.
Anglo German Fellowship...
The respectable Anglo-German Fellowship had been founded in late 1935 by one Ernest Tennant, a merchant banker and friend of the then German Ambassador to London, Joachim von Ribbentrop. The AGF included amongst it's members Guy Burgess and Kim Philby. Philby it emerged had been given the instruction by his KGB controllers to "penetrate the Fellowship", (Patrick Searle/ Maureen McConville 'Philby:The Long Road to Moscow' 1973, p104). Philby's penetration of the fascist movement would not have been a difficult task given that his father had long been a fascist fellow traveller.
Knight had himself been a one-time member of the British Fascisti 1923- 27, before having been recruited for MI5 by Sir Vernon Kell in April 1925. For a reasonable analysis of the career of Knight see Anthony Masters 'The Man Who Was M:The Life of Maxwell Knight' (1984).
See also John Hope 'Fascism, the Security Service and the Curious Careers of Maxwell Knight and James McGuirk Hughes' in 'Lobster' No 22 December 1991, p1-5, for an in depth study of the relationship at this time between British fascists and MI5.
For an indepth analysis of the career of Captain Ramsay see Richard Griffiths 'Patriotism Perverted: Captain Ramsay, the Right Club and British Anti-Semitism 1939-40' (1998). As the title suggests this book covers the period leading up to the mass internment of British fascists. Alternatively see Captain Ramsay 'The Nameless War' (1952) for his own theories concerning world events and internment.
WED (Bill) Allen, heir to the WH Allen publishing empire, was a one-time Ulster Unionist MP (1929-1931) who joined Mosley in the New Party and then subsequently the British Union of Fascists. Allen was a major financial backer of the BUF, financing Mosley's secret attempt to set-up a pro-german radio station. In recent times it was discovered that Allen had been MI6's chief informant inside the BUF.
Dr Robert Forgan...
Dr Robert Forgan, like Beckett, was a former Independent Labour Party MP (1929-1931), joining Mosley in the formation of the New Party and following the road to fascism as Mosley's deputy in the British Union of Fascists. By early 1934 Forgan had become disillusioned with fascism and had offered his services to Dr Neville Laski of the British Board of Jewish Deputies as a spy inside the Mosley camp.
Arthur Kenneth Chesterton...
Arthur Kenneth Chesterton had been the editor of the BUF publication 'Blackshirt', and would later become literary advisor to Lord Beaverbrook, then editor of 'Candour' (1953-1973), and founding member of the League of Empire Loyalists (1954-1967). When the LEL later merged with the British National Party and the Racial Preservation Society in the formation of the National Front in 1967, Chesterton became its first chairman, although he was later resign both from the leadership of the and the National Front in 1970. Chesterton died on August 16 1973.
For an unexpectedly frank analysis of the career of Beckett see Francis Beckett 'The Rebel Who Lost His Cause:The Tragedy of John Beckett MP' (1999).
A sample of Leese's obsession with the Jewish Question is available on-line at 'Jewish Ritual Murder' .
The Britons had been founded in 1919 by Henry Hamilton Beamish. In August 1922 the Britons founded the Britons Publishing Company, which was in reality the earlier Judaic Publishing Company renamed, the aim of which was to publish vehemently anti-Semitic tracts including the now infamous 'The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion'. The Jewish Question was without a doubt the main preoccupation of Beamish and the Britons and in April 1923 they suggested the island of Madagascar as a potential Jewish homeland, an idea originally sanctioned by Paul de Lagarde in 1885 and later adopted by amongst others Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi ideologist. Beamish would later become a member of Leese's IFL.
Fasci Italiani di Combattamento...
Leese was impressed by what he termed "the bloodless revolution of Mussolini" and described his Fasci Italiani di Combattamento as "a movement which might end political humbug",(Arnold Leese, 'Out of Step' 1947, p49).
Colin Jordan first appeared on the fringes of the fascist scene as a member of the Cambridge Nationalist Club, and would later join the League of Empire Loyalists, only to be leave in 1958 in opposition to the LEL's refusal to ban jews from holding membership. Jordan formed the short-lived White Defence League (1958-1960), which would later merge with the John Beans' National Labour Party in the formation of the British National Party. The BNP was to split just two years later, with the Jordan faction, which evolved around a defence grouping called Spearhead (1961-1963), forming the National Socialist Movement (1962-1968). The NSM would become the British Movement in 1968 which continued under Jordan's leadership until he was replaced as leader in 1975 by Michael McLaughlin, after which Jordan went into semi-retirement, spending his time publishing booklets and his occasional newsletter 'Gothic Ripples'.
For a short analysis of Jordan's current activities see Police Raid Nazi 'Godfather'.
Fascism in England...
This anonymous booklet was published by the International Third Position. Although written from a fascist viewpoint this booklet provides a useful cross-analysis of Leese/Imperial Fascist League vs Mosley/British Union of Fascists. For a less favourable look at the career of Arnold Leese and the Imperial Fascist League see 'Gisela Lebzelter 'Political Anti-Semitism in England 1918-1939' 1978, p68-85.
The result of this inference was the rise in later years of Holocaust Denial literature, refuting the greater excesses of the Nazi regime.
See Roger Eatwell 'The Holocaust Denial: a Study in Propaganda Technique' (p120-146) in 'Neo-Fascism in Europe' edited by Luciano Cheles/Ronnie Ferguson/ Michalina Vaughan' (1991), for a study of Holocaust Denial.