British Fascism

British Fascism is the form of fascism promoted by some political parties and movements in the UK.[1] It was based on British nationalism with aspects of Italian Fascism and Nazism before and after World War II.[2]

Historical examples of fascist movements in Britain include the British Fascists (1923–1934), the Imperial Fascist League (1929–1939), and the British Union of Fascists (1932–1940). More recent examples of British fascist groups include the British Movement (1968–1983), National Front (1967–present), Britain First (2011–present)[3][4][5] and National Action (2013–2017).

Ideological origins

Oswald Mosley and Benito Mussolini 1936
Italy's Duce Benito Mussolini (left) with Oswald Mosley (right) of the BUF during Mosley's visit to Italy in 1936

British Fascism acknowledges itself being based upon the inspiration and legacy of Italian Fascism but also states that it is not a mere application of a foreign ideology, but that British Fascism is rooted within British traditions.[1] British Fascism claims that both its economic and its political agenda intends to embody that of Tudor England.[1] It claims that its advocacy of a centralized national authoritarian state is based upon the Tudor state's hostility to party factions and self-interested sectional interests, and its goal of national integration through a centralised authoritarian state.[1] They claim that the Tudor state was a prototype fascist state.[1] British Fascist A.L. Glasfurd praised Henry VIII's subjugation of "lawless barons who had brought about the War of the Roses" and praised the "Tudor dictatorship" for its enacting of national policies, restricting the export of English capital by self-serving private speculators.[1] Glasford also praised the Tudor state for instituting a planned economy that he claimed was a predecessor of the "scientific" national economic planning of fascism.[1]

British Fascism also claims the legacy of Oliver Cromwell; Oswald Mosley claimed Cromwell brought about "the first fascist age in England".[6] English political theorist Thomas Hobbes in his work Leviathan (1651) created the ideology of absolutism that advocated an all-powerful absolute monarchy to maintain order within a state, Hobbes' theory of absolutism was highly influential in fascist theory.[7] British Fascism claims that its corporatist economic policy is based upon England's historical medieval guild system, with its enlightened regulation of wages, prices and conditions of labour as being the ideal precedents for a British Fascist corporatist economic system.[1]


History of British Fascism
A flowchart showing the history of the early British fascist movement

Nationalism and racialism

British Fascism is based upon British nationalism. The British Union of Fascists (BUF) sought to unify the British nation by healing sectarian divide between Protestant and Catholic Britons, and in particular it sought to appeal to Catholic Irish living in Britain.[8] The BUF declared support for complete religious toleration.[9] BUF Leader Sir Oswald Mosley emphasised the "Irish Connection" and the BUF held both Protestant and Catholic religious branches.[10] Mosley condemned the Liberal government of David Lloyd George for being responsible for allowing reprisals between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland.[11] As a result of the BUF's conciliatory approach to Catholics, it gained a substantial support amongst Catholics, and several BUF leaders in Hull, Blackburn, and Bolton, were Catholics.[12] Support by Catholic Irish in Stepney for the BUF increased after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War that involved clerical traditionalist and fascist forces fighting against an anti-clerical government.[13]

On racial issues, the various British Fascist movements held different policies. The British Fascism of Mosley's BUF believed that culture created national and racial differences - a policy closer to the views on race by Italian Fascism rather than German Nazism.[14] Initially the BUF was not explicitly anti-Semitic and was in fact based upon the views on race of Austrian Jewish sociologist Ludwig Gumplowicz and Scottish anthropologist Arthur Keith who defined race formation as the result of dynamic historical and political processes established within the confines of the nation state and that the defining characteristics of a people were determined by the interaction of heredity, environment, culture, and evolution over a historical period of time.[14] However Mosley later prominently asserted anti-Semitism invoking the theory of German philosopher Oswald Spengler who described that Magian Jews and Faustian Europeans were bound to live in friction with each other.[15] The British Fascism of Arnold Leese's Imperial Fascist League promoted pro-Nazi racial policy including anti-Semitism.[16]

There were small, short-lived Fascist groups at several universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham, Liverpool and Reading. Mosley arranged a series of public meetings of his British Union of Fascists (formed in 1932) in university towns, which often ended in conflict between supporters and opposition, followed by violence.[17]

Foreign policies

British Fascism was non-interventionist and argued against war when it was not in defence of Britain or the British Empire. It was believed the only threat to the British Empire was from the Soviet Union.[18] In defence of this policy Mosley pointed to Benjamin Disraeli who opposed going to war with Turkey over its mistreatment of Armenians.[19]

Corporatist policies would also be spread to the empire.[20] It was seen as natural that the Dominions would accept these policies as it would be beneficial to them.[21] The spread of corporatist policies would have also led to an increased hold on India and with that have working conditions improved.[22]


As a fascist movement, British Fascism is democratic. The BUF declared support for a democratic state with Mosley describing it in relation to the BUF's support of corporatism as "a nation emerges organised in the divine parallel of the human body as the name implies. Every organ plays a part in relation to the whole and in harmony with the whole".[23]

Syndicalist economy

In economics, British Fascism opposes laissez-faire economics for being an outmoded system and promotes it to be replaced by a syndicalist economic system.[24] The BUF denounced capitalism, with Mosley declaring: "Capitalism is a system by which capital uses the nation for its own purposes. Fascism is a system by which the nation uses capital for its own purposes".[25] He went on to say "private enterprise is not permitted when it conflicts with national interests".[26]

Traditionalism and modernism

The BUF declared support for the British monarchy, regarding the monarchy for its role in bringing Britain to preeminence in the world, and as such a symbol of Britain's imperial splendour.[9] Its support went as far as "Absolute loyalty to the Crown" and aimed to "in every way maintain its dignity".[27]

The BUF declared its support for complete religious toleration though also declared that it sought to merge both religious and secular spheres of the nation into a "higher harmony" between church and state, by supporting political representation for leading clerics in the House of Lords and state maintenance for religious schools for those who demanded them.[9] The BUF declared its support for Christianity and its opposition to atheism, saying "atheism will perish under British Union; Christianity will find encouragement and security, in which it may prosper to the glory of its Creator".[9]

The BUF stressed the need for Britain to be linked to modernity especially in economics, Mosley had declared such in 1931 in addressing the action needed in response to the onset of the Great Depression: "we have to face modern problems with modern minds, we should then be able to lift this great economic problem and national emergency far above the turmoil of party clamour and with national unity could achieve a solution adequate to the problem and worthy of the modern mind".[9] They found "the money spent on both scientific and technical research [was] absurdly inadequate".[28]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Thomas P. Linehan. British fascism, 1918-39: parties, ideology and culture. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 2000. p. 14.
  2. ^ Richard C. Thurlow. Fascism in Britain: from Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts to the National Front. 2nd edition. New York: I. B. Taurus, 2006. p. 133-134.
  3. ^ Bienkov, Adam (19 June 2014). "Britain First: The violent new face of British fascism". Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  4. ^ Foxton, Willard (4 November 2014). "The loathsome Britain First are trying to hijack the poppy – don't let them". The Telegraph.
  5. ^ Sabin, Lamiat (25 October 2014). "'Fascist' group Britain First to start 'direct action' on Mail and Sun journalists over Lynda Bellingham post". The Independent.
  6. ^ Julie V. Gottlieb, Thomas P. Linehan. The culture of fascism: visions of the Far Right in Britain. New York: I. B. Taurus, 2004. p. 152.
  7. ^ Contemporary Political Theory: New Dimensions, Basic Concepts and Major Trends. 12th Edition. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 2007. p. 705.
  8. ^ Thomas Linehan. British Fascism, 1918-39: Parties, Ideology and Culture. Pp. 166.
  9. ^ a b c d e David Stephen Lewis. Illusions of Grandeur: Mosley, Fascism, and British Society, 1931-81. P. 51.
  10. ^ Ken Lunn, Richard C. Thurlow, Kenneth Lunn. British Fascism: Essays on the Radical Right in Inter-War Britain. Pp. 162.
  11. ^ Ken Lunn, Richard C. Thurlow, Kenneth Lunn. British Fascism: Essays on the Radical Right in Inter-War Britain. Pp. 162.
  12. ^ Ken Lunn, Richard C. Thurlow, Kenneth Lunn. British Fascism: Essays on the Radical Right in Inter-War Britain. Pp. 161.
  13. ^ Thomas Linehan. British Fascism, 1918-39: Parties, Ideology and Culture. Pp. 166.
  14. ^ a b Julie V. Gottlieb, Thomas P. Linehan. The culture of fascism: visions of the Far Right in Britain. New York, New York, USA: I. B. Taurus & Co. Ltd., 2004. Pp. 66-67.
  15. ^ Richard Thurlow. Fascism in Britain: A History, 1918-1945. Revised paperback edition. I. B. Taurus & Co. Ltd., 2006. Pp. 28.
  16. ^ Julie V. Gottlieb, Thomas P. Linehan. The culture of fascism: visions of the Far Right in Britain. New York, New York, USA: I. B. Taurus & Co. Ltd., 2004. Pp. 67.
  17. ^ Brewis, Georgina (20 October 2015). "Student solidarity across borders: Students, universities and refugee crises past and present". History & Policy. History & Policy. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  18. ^ Oswald Mosley. Fascism: 100 Questions Asked and Answered. Question 88
  19. ^ Mosley, Oswald (15 November 1967). "David Frost Interviews Sir Oswald Mosley". The Frost Programme (Interview). Interviewed by David Frost.
  20. ^ Oswald Mosley. Fascism: 100 Questions Asked and Answered. Question 83
  21. ^ Oswald Mosley. Fascism: 100 Questions Asked and Answered. Question 80
  22. ^ Oswald Mosley. Fascism: 100 Questions Asked and Answered. Question 84
  23. ^ Roger Griffin. Fascism, Totalitarianism And Political Religion. Oxon, England, UK; New York, New York, USA: Routledge, 2005. P. 110.
  24. ^ A Workers' Policy Through Syndicalism. Union Movement. 1953. ISBN 9781899435265.
  25. ^ Moyra Grant. Key Ideas in Politics. P. 63.
  26. ^ Oswald Mosley. Fascism: 100 Questions Asked and Answered. Question 35
  27. ^ Oswald Mosley. Fascism: 100 Questions Asked and Answered. Question 1
  28. ^ Oswald Mosley. Fascism: 100 Questions Asked and Answered. Question 33
Alexander Raven Thomson

Alexander Raven Thomson, usually known as Raven (1899–1955), was a Scottish politician and philosopher. He joined the British Union of Fascists in 1933 and remained a follower of Oswald Mosley for the rest of his life; he was considered to be the party's chief ideologue. He has been described as the "Alfred Rosenberg of British fascism".

Arnold Leese

Arnold Spencer Leese (1878–1956) was a British fascist politician and veterinary surgeon. Leese was initially prominent due to his veterinary work, in particular, his study of camels. A virulent anti-Semite, Leese led his own fascist movement and he was also a prolific author and publisher of polemics both before and after the Second World War. He has been described as being "central to fascism's rebirth" in the United Kingdom after 1945, acting as an intellectual mentor to Colin Jordan and John Tyndall, the "most significant figures on the extreme right since the 1960s".

British Fascism 1918–39

British Fascism 1918–39: Parties, Ideology and Culture is a 2000 book by Thomas Linehan, in which the author surveys the fascist movements in Britain during the inter-war period.

It was published in 2000 as a hardcover and paperback by Manchester University Press and distributed in the United States by St. Martin's Press.

British Union of Fascists

The British Union of Fascists, or BUF, was a fascist political party in the United Kingdom formed in 1932 by Oswald Mosley. It changed its name to the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists in 1936 and, in 1937, to British Union. It was finally disbanded in 1940, after it was proscribed by the British government following the start of the Second World War.

The BUF emerged in 1932 from the British far-right, following the electoral defeat of its antecedent, the New Party, in the 1931 general election. The BUF's foundation was initially met with popular support, and it attracted a sizeable following. The press baron Lord Rothermere was a notable early supporter. As the party became increasingly radical, however, support declined. The Olympia Rally of 1934, in which a number of anti-Fascist protestors were attacked by the paramilitary wing of the BUF, the Fascist Defence Force, isolated the party from much of its following. The party's embrace of Nazi-style anti-semitism in 1936 led to increasingly violent clashes with opponents, notably the 1936 Battle of Cable Street in London's East End. The Public Order Act 1936, which banned political uniforms and responded to increasing political violence, had a particularly strong effect on the BUF whose supporters were known as "Blackshirts" after the uniforms they wore.

Growing British hostility towards Nazi Germany, with which the British press persistently associated the BUF, further contributed to the decline of the movement's membership. It was finally banned by the British government in 1940 after the start of the Second World War, amid suspicion that its remaining supporters might form a pro-Nazi "fifth column". A number of prominent BUF members were arrested and interned under Defence Regulation 18B.

Eddy Butler

Edward Mark Butler (born in Bloomsbury 13 November 1962) is a former National Elections Officer of the British National Party (BNP) and was dubbed the party's "elections guru" by its newspaper, Voice of Freedom, until being suspended and expelled from the BNP in 2010 by Nick Griffin. He is currently a member of the English Democrats.

Fascism (disambiguation)

Fascism is a political ideology.

Fascism may refer to:

Albanian fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Albania

Austrian fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Austria

British fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Britain

Croatian fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Croatia

French fascism, a version of the ideology developed in France

German fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Germany

Hungarian fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Hungary

Italian fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Italy

Religious fascism, a distinctive form of fascism with religious components

Christian fascism, a distinctive form of religious fascism

Clerical fascism, a distinctive form of Christian fascism, merged with Clericalism

Islamic fascism, a distinctive form of religious fascism with Islamic components

Russian fascism (disambiguation), versions of the ideology developed in Russia

Social fascism, a political theory

Spanish fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Spain

Yugoslav fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Yugoslavia

Flag Group

The Flag Group was a British political party, formed from one of the two wings of the National Front in the 1980s. Formed in opposition to the Political Soldier wing of the Official National Front, it took its name from The Flag, a newspaper the followers of this faction formed after leaving and regrouping outside the main and diminishing rump of the rest of the party.

Gisela C. Lebzelter

Gisela C. Lebzelter is an author, historian, and scholar, and an expert on British fascism and antisemitism. Scholars who study British fascism and antisemitism frequently cite her 1978 book Political Anti-Semitism in England 1918-1939—a revision of her thesis submitted to St Antony's College, Oxford.

Lebzelter has done much research on The Britons (responsible for repeatedly publishing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the UK), including its founding President, Henry Hamilton Beamish, and his successor, John Henry Clarke.

Dr. Lebzelter has a non-Jewish background. She was a student at the Free University of Berlin and University College London.

John Morse (British politician)

John Morse (born 1951) is a British political activist involved with the far-right. He was a leading figure in the British National Party under John Tyndall, serving alongside Richard Edmonds as Tyndall's closest ally in the party.His alliance with Tyndall began when Morse supported his leadership of the National Front and continued when he was a founder of the New National Front. In the BNP, Morse served as editor of the party newspaper British Nationalist. Tyndall and Morse were imprisoned in 1986 for publishing material relating to racial hatred for a year, although the two men only served four months. In 1994 Morse and Edmonds were both charged with causing violent disorder after a black man was struck with a glass in Bethnal Green.Based in Winchester, he served as the BNP's Mid-South organiser but resigned from the position in 1999 when Tyndall was replaced as party chairman by Nick Griffin.Morse was expelled from the BNP in 2002 and, although he was later reinstated, he is no longer involved in the party. In 2015 the Daily Mail reported that, along with other far-right veterans including Edmonds, Martin Webster and Michèle Renouf, Morse attended an event at a central London hotel where key speakers included Holocaust deniers Pedro Varela Geiss and Mark Weber.Apart from his political activities, Morse worked as a bus driver.

List of British far-right groups since 1945

The far-right, extreme right, hard right, radical right, fascist-right and ultra-right are terms used to discuss the position a group or person occupies within right-wing politics. The terms are often used to imply that someone is an extremist. The terms have been used by different scholars in somewhat conflicting ways.Far right politics usually involve supremacism — a belief that superiority and inferiority is an innate reality between individuals and groups — and a complete rejection of the concept of social equality as a norm. Far right politics often support segregation; the separation of groups deemed to be superior from groups deemed to be inferior. Far right politics also commonly include authoritarianism, nativism, racism and xenophobia.Many of these parties stem from either the legacy of Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, or the political views held by either John Tyndall, Andrew Fountain, Eddy Morrison, Ian Anderson, Colin Jordan and A.K. Chesterton, along with those of their parties like the British National Party, National Front (United Kingdom), National Socialist Movement (1960s) and National Democrats (United Kingdom) over the last 40 years.

The ideologies usually associated with the far right include fascism, Nazism and other ultra-nationalist, religiously extreme or reactionary ideologies.The term radical right refers to sections of the far right that promote views which are very conservative in traditional left-right terms, but which aim to break with prevailing institutions and practices. The radical right does not have a clear straightforward structure, but rather consists of overlapping subcultures with diverse styles of rhetoric, dress and symbolism whose cohesion comes from the use of alternative system of communications.

List of British fascist parties

Although Fascism in the United Kingdom never reached the heights of many of its European counterparts, British politics after the First World War saw the emergence of a number of fascist movements, none of which ever came to power.

List of fascist movements by country U–Z

A list of political parties, organizations, and movements adhering to various forms of fascist ideology, part of the list of fascist movements by country.

Militant Christian Patriots

The Militant Christian Patriots (MCP) were a short-lived but influential anti-Semitic organisation active in the United Kingdom immediately prior to the Second World War. It played a central role in the ultimately unsuccessful attempts to keep the UK out of any European war.

NSDAP/AO (1972)

The NSDAP/AO is an American neo-Nazi organization. It was founded in 1972 by United States citizen Gary Rex Lauck (born in 1953) in Lincoln, Nebraska. The organization stands for "NSDAP Aufbau- und Auslandsorganisation" (English: NSDAP Development and Foreign Organization). Lauck's organization claims to be a continuation of the original NSDAP and supplies neo-Nazis worldwide with propaganda material. Since 1973 this new NSDAP/AO publishes Nazi magazines ("NS-Kampfruf", for example) - by his own account in ten languages. As one of its political aims it declares the readmission of NSDAP as an eligible party in Germany and Austria. The group has also been active in a number of countries across Europe, both co-ordinating with local movements and distributing propaganda individually.


Neo-fascism is a post–World War II ideology that includes significant elements of fascism. Neo-fascism usually includes ultranationalism, racial supremacy, populism, authoritarianism, nativism, xenophobia and opposition to immigration, as well as opposition to liberal democracy, parliamentarianism, capitalism, Marxism, communism and socialism. Allegations that a group is neo-fascist may be hotly contested, especially if the term is used as a political epithet. Some post–World War II regimes have been described as neo-fascist due to their authoritarian nature, and sometimes due to their fascination with and sympathy towards fascist ideology and rituals.

Post-fascism is a label that has been applied to several European political parties that espouse a modified form of fascism and which partake in constitutional politics.

Official National Front

The Official National Front (ONF) was one of two far-right groups to emerge in the United Kingdom in 1986 following a split within the National Front. Following ideological paths that were mostly new to the Far right in the United Kingdom, the ONF stood opposed to the more traditionalist Flag Group.

R. B. D. Blakeney

Brigadier-General Robert Byron Drury Blakeney, generally known as R.B.D. Blakeney (April 18, 1872 – February 13, 1952), was a British Army general and fascist politician. After a career with the Royal Engineers, Blakeney went on to serve as President of the British Fascists.

Richard Edmonds

Richard Charles Edmonds (born 10 March 1943) is an English neo-Nazi political activist. He was the deputy chairman and national organiser of the British National Party (BNP) and has also been prominent in the National Front during two spells of membership.

Union Movement

The Union Movement (UM) was a far-right political party founded in Britain by Oswald Mosley. Where Mosley had been associated with a peculiarly British form of fascism, the Union Movement attempted to redefine the concept by stressing the importance of developing a European nationalism rather than narrower country-based nationalisms. The UM has therefore been characterised as an attempt by Mosley to start again in his political life by embracing more democratic and international policies, than those with which he had previously been associated.

Pre-1945 groups
post-1945 groups
Active groups
Pre-1945 people
Post-1945 people
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