Oswald Mosley

Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley of Ancoats, 6th Baronet (16 November 1896 – 3 December 1980) was a British politician who rose to fame in the 1920s as a Member of Parliament and later in the 1930s became leader of the British Union of Fascists (BUF).[1] Mosley inherited the title 'Sir' by virtue of his baronetcy; he was the sixth baronet of a title that had been in his family for centuries.[2]

After military service during the First World War, Mosley was one of the youngest Members of Parliament, representing Harrow from 1918 to 1924, first as a Conservative, then an independent, before joining the Labour Party. He returned to Parliament as the MP for Smethwick at a by-election in 1926, having stood as a Labour candidate, and served as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the Labour Government of 1929–31. He was considered a potential Labour Prime Minister, but resigned due to discord with the Government's unemployment policies. He then founded the New Party. He lost his Smethwick seat at the 1931 general election. The New Party became the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932.

Mosley was imprisoned in May 1940 and the BUF was banned. He was released in 1943 and, politically disgraced by his association with fascism, moved abroad in 1951, spending the majority of the remainder of his life in Paris. He stood for Parliament twice in the postwar era, achieving very little support.

Sir Oswald Mosley

Oswald mosley MP
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
7 June 1929 – 19 May 1930
Prime MinisterRamsay MacDonald
Preceded byRonald John McNeill
Succeeded byClement Attlee
Member of Parliament
for Smethwick
In office
21 December 1926 – 27 October 1931
Preceded byJohn Davison
Succeeded byRoy Wise
Member of Parliament
for Harrow
In office
14 December 1918 – 29 October 1924
Preceded byHarry Mallaby-Deeley
Succeeded bySir Isidore Salmon
Personal details
Oswald Ernald Mosley

16 November 1896
Mayfair, Westminster, London, England
Died3 December 1980 (aged 84)
Orsay, Essonne, France
Political partyConservative Party

Labour Party
New Party
British Union of Fascists
Union Movement
Other political
National Party of Europe
ChildrenVivien Mosley
Nicholas Mosley
Michael Mosley
(b. 1932)
Alexander Mosley
(b. 1938)
Max Mosley
(b. 1940)
Alma materWinchester College
Royal Military College, Sandhurst
AwardsAllied Victory Medal BAR.svg Victory Medal
British War Medal BAR.svg British War Medal
1914-15 Star ribbon.jpg 1914–15 Star
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the United Kingdom.svg British Empire
Branch/serviceFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
16th The Queen's Lancers
Royal Flying Corps
Years of service1914–1918
Battles/warsFirst World War
Second Battle of Ypres
Battle of Loos

Life and career

Early life and education

Mosley was born on 16 November 1896 at 47 Hill Street, Mayfair, Westminster,[3][4] He was the eldest of the three sons of Sir Oswald Mosley, 5th Baronet (1873–1928), and Katharine Maud Edwards-Heathcote (1874–1950), daughter of Captain Justinian H. Edwards-Heathcote of Apedale Hall, Staffordshire. He had two younger brothers: Edward Heathcote Mosley (1899–1980); John Arthur Noel Mosley (1901–1973).[5]

The family traces its roots to Ernald de Mosley of Bushbury, Staffordshire in the time of King John in the 12th century. The family was prominent in Staffordshire and three baronetcies were created, two of which are now extinct. His five-time great-grandfather John Parker Mosley, a Manchester hatter, was made a baronet in 1781.[5] 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. His father was a third cousin to the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, father of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who served alongside King George VI as Queen (of the United Kingdom).

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 his grandparents' stately home, Apedale Hall, and was educated at West Downs School and Winchester College.

Mosley was a fencing champion in his school days, winning titles in both foil and sabre, and retained an enthusiasm for the sport throughout his life.

Military service

In January 1914, Mosley entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, but was expelled in June for a "riotous act of retaliation" against a fellow student.[6] During the First World War he was commissioned into the British cavalry unit the 16th The Queen's Lancers and fought in France 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, as well as a reputation for being brave and somewhat reckless.[1] He returned to the trenches before the injury had fully healed, and at the Battle of Loos (1915) 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.[6]

Marriage to Lady Cynthia Curzon

Oswald & Cynthia Mosley 1920
Oswald Mosley and Lady Cynthia Curzon on their wedding day, 11 May 1920

On 11 May 1920, he married Lady Cynthia "Cimmie" Curzon (1898–1933), second daughter of the 1st Earl 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 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 King George V and Queen Mary, as well as foreign royalty such as the Duke and Duchess of Brabant (later King Leopold III and Queen Astrid of Belgium).[1][7]

During this marriage he began an extended affair with his wife's younger sister Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, and with their stepmother, Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston, the American-born second wife and widow of Lord Curzon of Kedleston.[8] He succeeded to the Baronetcy of Ancoats upon his father's death in 1928, which entitles the current holder to the prefix style Sir.

India and Gandhi

Among his many travels, Mosley travelled to India accompanied by Lady Cynthia in the winter of 1924. His father-in-law's past as Viceroy of the British Raj allowed for the acquaintance of various personalities along the journey. They travelled by P. & O. boat and stopped shortly in Cairo.[9]

Having initially arrived in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka), the journey then continued along mainland India. They spent these initial days in the government house of Ceylon. Followed by Madras and then Calcutta, where the Governor at the time was Lord Lytton.[9]

Mosley met Gandhi through C.F. Andrews, a clergyman and an intimate friend of the Indian Saint, as Mosley described him. They met in Kadda, where Gandhi was quick to invite him to a private conference in which Gandhi was chairman. They enjoyed each other's company for the short time they were together. Mosley later further described Gandhi as a 'sympathetic personality of subtle intelligence'.[9]

Marriage to Diana Mitford

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 Germany's Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels. Adolf Hitler was one of the guests.

Mosley spent large amounts of his private fortune on the British Union of Fascists (BUF) and tried to establish it on a firm financial footing by various 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 Seigneurage of Sark, to set up a privately owned radio station on Sark.[10][11]

Member of Parliament

By the end of the First World War, Mosley had decided to go into politics as a Conservative Member of Parliament, as he had no university education or practical experience due to the war. He was 21 years old and had not fully developed his own political views. 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.[12] 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.[13]

Crossing the floor

Mosley was at this time falling out with the Conservatives over Irish policy and he condemned the operations of the Black and Tans in Ireland against civilians.[14] 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.

The Liberal Westminster Gazette wrote that Mosley was:

the most polished literary speaker in the Commons, words flow from him in graceful epigrammatic phrases that have a sting in them for the government and the Conservatives. To listen to him is an education in the English language, also in the art of delicate but deadly repartee. He has human sympathies, courage and brains."[15]

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".[16] The outraged Chamberlain demanded that Mosley retract the claim "as a gentleman".[16] Mosley, whom Stanley Baldwin described as "a cad and a wrong 'un", refused to retract the allegation.[16] It took several recounts before Chamberlain was declared the winner by 77 votes and Mosley blamed poor weather for the result.[17] 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.[18]

Mosley and his wife Cynthia were committed Fabians in the 1920s and at the start of the 1930s. Mosley appears in a list of names of Fabians from Fabian News and the Fabian Society Annual Report 1929–31. He was Kingsway Hall lecturer in 1924 and Livingstone Hall lecturer in 1931.


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, a position without Portfolio and 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."[15] In October he attempted to persuade the Labour Party Conference to accept the Memorandum, but was defeated again. Thirty years later, in 1961, Richard Crossman described the memorandum: "... this brilliant memorandum was a whole generation ahead of Labour thinking."[15]

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).[19]

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 General Election was suddenly called—the party's candidates, including Mosley himself running in Stoke which had been held by his wife, 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. Shortly after the 1931 election, Mosley was described by the Manchester Guardian:

When Sir Oswald Mosley sat down after his Free Trade Hall speech in Manchester and the audience, stirred as an audience rarely is, rose and swept a storm of applause towards the platform — who could doubt that here was one of those root-and-branch men who have been thrown up from time to time in the religious, political and business story of England. First that gripping audience is arrested,[n 1] then stirred and finally, as we have said, swept off its feet by a tornado of peroration yelled at the defiant high pitch of a tremendous voice.[15]


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

After his failure to be elected 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. He 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, strongly anti-zionist 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 (though short-lived) supporters.[19][20][21] The Mirror piece was a guest article by Daily Mail owner Viscount Rothermere and an apparent one-off; despite these briefly warm words for the BUF, the paper was so vitriolic in its condemnation of European fascism that Nazi Germany added the paper's directors to a hit-list in the event of a successful Operation Sea Lion.[22] The Mail continued to support the BUF until the Olympia rally in June 1934.[23]

John Gunther described Mosley in 1940 as "strikingly handsome. He is probably the best orator in England. His personal magnetism is very great". Among Mosley's supporters at this time included John Strachey,[24] the novelist Henry Williamson, military theorist J. F. C. Fuller, and the future "Lord Haw Haw", William Joyce.

Mosley had found problems with disruption of New Party meetings, and instituted a corps of black-uniformed paramilitary stewards, the Fascist Defence Force, nicknamed blackshirts. The party was frequently involved in violent confrontations, particularly with Communist and Jewish groups and especially in London.[25] At a large Mosley rally at Olympia on 7 June 1934, his bodyguards' violence caused bad publicity.[24] This and the Night of the Long Knives in Germany led to the loss of most of the BUF's mass support. Nevertheless Mosley continued espousing anti-Semitism. At one of his New Party meetings in Leicester in April 1935, he stated, "For the first time I openly and publicly challenge the Jewish interests of this country, commanding commerce, commanding the Press, commanding the cinema, dominating the City of London, killing industry with their sweat-shops. These great interests are not intimidating, and will not intimidate, the Fascist movement of the modern age."[26] The party was unable to fight the 1935 general election.

Plaque commemorating the Battle of Cable Street

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, since called the Battle of Cable Street. 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. 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. Mosley remained popular as late as summer 1939. His Britain First rally at the Earls Court Exhibition Hall on 16 July 1939 was the biggest indoor political rally in British history.

After the outbreak of war, Mosley led the campaign for a negotiated peace, but after the invasion of Norway and the commencement of aerial bombardment (see The Blitz) overall public opinion of him turned to hostility. In mid-May 1940, Mosley was nearly wounded by assault.[27]


Unbeknownst to Mosley, the British Security Service and Special Branch had deeply penetrated the BUF and were also monitoring him through listening devices. Beginning in 1934, they were increasingly worried that Mosley's noted oratory skills would convince the public to provide financial support to the BUF, enabling it to challenge the political establishment.[28] His agitation was officially tolerated until the events of the Battle of France in May 1940 made him too dangerous. Mosley, who at that time was focused on pleading for the British to accept Hitler's peace offer of March, was detained on 23 May 1940, less than a fortnight after Winston Churchill became Prime Minister.[1] Mosley was interrogated for 16 hours by Lord Birkett[28] but never formally charged with a crime, instead being interned under Defence Regulation 18B. The same fate met the other most active fascists in Britain, resulting in the BUF all but disappearing from the political horizon.[1] His wife, Diana, was also interned in June,[29] shortly after the birth of their son Max; they lived together for most of the war in a house in the grounds of Holloway prison. The BUF was proscribed later that year.

Mosley used the time to read extensively on classical civilisations. He refused visits from most BUF members, but on 18 March 1943, Dudley and Norah Elam (who had been released by then) accompanied Unity Mitford to see her sister Diana. Mosley agreed to be present because he mistakenly believed Diana and Unity's mother, Lady Redesdale, were accompanying Unity.[30] The internment, particularly that of Lady Mosley, resulted in significant public debate, although most of the public supported the government's actions. Others demanded a trial, either in the hope it would end the detention or in the hope of a conviction.[1]

In November 1943, Home Secretary Herbert Morrison ordered the release of the Mosleys, angering much of the public. After a fierce debate in the House of Commons, Morrison's action was upheld by a vote of 327–26.[1] Mosley, who was suffering with phlebitis, spent the rest of the war under house arrest. On his release from prison, he first stayed with his sister-in-law Pamela Mitford, followed shortly by a stay at the Shaven Crown Hotel in Shipton-under-Wychwood. He then purchased Crux Easton House, near Newbury, with Diana.[31] He and his wife remained the subject of much media attention.[32] The war ended what remained of Mosley's political reputation.

Post-war politics

After the war, Mosley was contacted by his former supporters and persuaded to return to participation in politics. He formed the Union Movement, which called for a single nation-state to cover the continent of Europe (known as Europe a Nation) and later attempted to launch a National Party of Europe to this end. The Union Movement's meetings were often physically disrupted, as Mosley's meetings had been before the war, and largely by the same opponents. This led to Mosley's decision, in 1951, to leave Britain and live in Ireland. He later moved to Paris. Of his decision to leave, he said, "You don't clear up a dungheap from underneath it."[33]

Shortly after the 1958 Notting Hill race riots, Mosley briefly returned to Britain to stand in the 1959 general election at Kensington North. Mosley led his campaign stridently on an anti-immigration platform, calling for forced repatriation of Caribbean immigrants as well as a prohibition upon mixed marriages. Mosley's final share of the vote was 7.6%.[34]

In 1961 he took part in a debate at University College London about Commonwealth immigration, seconded by a young David Irving.[35] He returned to politics one last time, contesting the 1966 general election at Shoreditch and Finsbury, and received 4.6% of the vote.[34] After this, Mosley retired and moved back to France,[34] where he wrote his autobiography, My Life (1968).

In 1977, by which time he was suffering from Parkinson's disease, he was nominated as a candidate for Rector of the University of Glasgow in which election he polled over 100 votes but finished bottom of the poll.

Personal life

By his first wife, Lady Cynthia Curzon, Mosley had three children. His first son, born his second child, inherited the baronetcy, and in 1966 he became the third Baron Ravensdale, a title that passed through his mother's line. His first wife would also go on to represent New Party, a party which started out as socialist but took on an increasingly fascist nature set up by Sir Oswald Mosley, in the Parliamentary Constituency of Stoke. This would make her one of the first female MP's in UK politics.[5]

  • Vivien Elisabeth Mosley (1921–2002), who married on 15 January 1949 Desmond Francis Forbes Adam (1926–58), educated at Eton College and at King's College, Cambridge, by whom she had two daughters
  • Nicholas Mosley (later 3rd Baron Ravensdale and 7th Baronet of Ancoats; 1923–2017), a successful novelist who wrote a biography of his father and edited his memoirs for publication
  • Michael Mosley (1932–2012), unmarried and without issue

By his second wife, Diana Mitford (1910–2003), he had two sons:[5]

Mosley died on December 3rd 1980 at Orsay outside Paris, France. His body was cremated in a ceremony held at the Père Lachaise Cemetery, and his ashes were scattered on the pond at Orsay. His son Alexander stated that they had received many messages of condolences but no abusive words. "All that was a very long time ago," he said.[36]


Mosley's personal papers are held at the University of Birmingham's Special Collections Archive.

In popular culture

  • Aldous Huxley's 1928 novel Point Counter Point features Everard Webley, a character who is similar to Mosley in the 1920s, before Mosley left the Labour Party.
  • P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves short-story and novel series include the character Sir Roderick Spode from 1938 to 1971, as a parody of Mosley.[37][38]
  • In H. G. Wells's 1939 novel The Holy Terror, a Mosley-like character called Lord Horatio Bohun is the leader of an organisation called the Popular Socialist Party. The character is principally motivated by vanity and is removed from leadership and sent packing to Argentina.
  • On Mosley's release from prison in 1943, Ewan MacColl wrote the song The Leader's a Bleeder, set to the tune of the Irish song The Old Orange Flute. The song suggested that Mosley had been treated relatively well in prison owing to his aristocratic background.[39]
  • The original version of the Elvis Costello 1977 song "Less Than Zero" is an attack on Mosley and his politics. Listeners in the United States had assumed that the "Mr. Oswald" in the lyrics was Lee Harvey Oswald, so Costello wrote an alternative lyric to refer to Kennedy's assassin.[40]:74,84
  • The satirical television programme Not the Nine O'Clock News lampooned the British media's favourable 1980 obituaries of Mosley in a comedic music video, "Baronet Oswald Ernald Mosley". The actors, dressed as Nazi punks, performed a punk rock eulogy to Mosley, interweaving some of the positive remarks by newspapers from all sides of the political spectrum, including The Times and The Guardian.[41]
  • In 1997, Channel 4 produced a mini-series about Mosley called Mosley, starring Jonathan Cake.
  • In a 2002 episode of the British television series Foyle's War entitled "The White Feather", Mosley is referred to as a fascist and Nazi sympathiser, and his detention is noted.
  • In 2006, BBC History magazine selected Mosley as the 20th century's worst Briton.[42]
  • The BBC Wales-produced 2010 revival of Upstairs Downstairs includes a semi-fictional dramatisation of Mosley, the BUF and the Battle of Cable Street, set in 1936.
  • In the 1982 film Pink Floyd: The Wall, during the In the Flesh segment, the character Pink is dressed in a fashion similar to that of Mosley.
  • In the 2017 film Darkest Hour, Churchill, played by Gary Oldman, discusses with his Outer Cabinet the possibility of Britain becoming a slave state of Nazi Germany under Mosley if the decision is made to pursue peace talks right before his "We Shall Never Surrender" speech. [43]
  • Amanda K. Hale's 2019 novel Mad Hatter features Mosley as her father James Larratt Battersby's leader in the BUF.

In alternate history film and literature

  • Works of Harry Turtledove:
  • In the 1964 film It Happened Here, which depicts a Nazi-occupied Britain in the mid-1940s, Mosley is never mentioned by name, but a British fascist leader strongly resembling Mosley is shown in faux documentary footage from the 1930s, and Mosley's portrait can be seen alongside Hitler's in government offices. The fictional "Immediate Action Organisation" in the film also seems to be inspired by Mosley's British Union of Fascists, with members referred to as "blackshirts" and the symbol of the BUF appearing on their uniforms.[44]
  • In Guy Walters' The Leader, Mosley has taken power as "The Leader" of Great Britain in 1937. King Edward VIII is still on the throne after his marriage, Winston Churchill is a prisoner on the Isle of Man, and Prime Minister Mosley is conspiring with Adolf Hitler about the fate of Britain's Jewish population.
  • In Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, a secret pact between Charles Lindbergh who has become President of the United States and Hitler includes an agreement to impose Mosley as the ruler of a German-occupied Britain with America's blessing after a ruse in which Lindbergh convinces Churchill to negotiate peace with Hitler, which deliberately fails – mirroring the dishonesty and repudiation of key Hitler-signed treaties, the Munich Conference Accord and Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
  • In Kim Newman's The Bloody Red Baron, Mosley is shot down and killed in 1918 by Erich von Stalhein (from the Biggles series by W. E. Johns) and a character later comments that "a career has been ended before it was begun."
  • In C. J. Sansom's novel Dominion, the Second World War ends in June 1940, when the British government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Lord Halifax, signs a peace treaty with Nazi Germany in Berlin. By November 1952, Mosley is serving as Home Secretary in the cabinet of Lord Beaverbrook, who leads a coalition government consisting of the pro-Treaty factions of the Conservatives and Labour as well as the BUF. The government works closely and sympathises with the Nazi regime in Germany. Under Mosley's leadership, the police have become a feared force and an "Auxiliary Police" consisting mainly of British Union of Fascists thugs that has been set up to deal with political crime.
  • In the Elseworlds comic Superman: War of the Worlds, Mosley becomes Prime Minister after the defeat of the Martian invasion of 1938.
  • In the Doctor Who Virgin New Adventures novel Timewyrm: Exodus, Prime Minister Mosley is shown addressing Britain's first National Socialist Parliament.
  • In Lavie Tidhar's A Man Lies Dreaming (2014), Mosley is running for (and eventually becomes) Prime Minister, in a world where the Communists, rather than the Nazis, rose to power in Germany in 1933.
  • In the sixth book in the Maisie Dobbs series, "Among the Mad," Maisie's investigation takes her to meeting of Oswald Mosley followers where violence ensues.

See also


Informational notes

  1. ^ Arrested in the sense of stunned or gripped


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Sir Oswald Mosley – Meteoric rise and fail of a controversial politician". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 4 December 1980. p. 19.
  2. ^ "Life and Times of Sir Oswald Mosley & the British Union of Fascists". Holocaust Research Project. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  3. ^ Skidelsky, Maurice (2004). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 39. Oxford University Press. p. 469.
  4. ^ General Register Office Index of Births in England and Wales for October, November and December 1896 (Registration district: St George, Hanover Square, Middlesex), p. 399
  5. ^ a b c d "Mosley, Charles". Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knighthood (107 ed.). Burke's Peerage & Gentry. 2003. pp. 3283–3287. ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
  6. ^ a b Philip Rees. Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890. Cambridge University Press.
  7. ^ Jones, Nigel (September 2004). Mosley. Haus Publishing. p. 21. ISBN 1-904341-09-8.
  8. ^ Dalley, Jan (11 June 2000). "Tea With Hitler". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Mosley, Oswald (1968). My Life. London: Black House Publishing. pp. 127–134, 'India'. ISBN 978-1-908476-692.
  10. ^ Amato quotes national archive document HO 283/11, which states that among the property seized following Mosley's arrest by the British government in 1940 was correspondence between Mosley and Beaumont dating from 1937. Amato, Joseph Anthony (2002). Rethinking Home: A Case for Writing Local History. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 278–79. ISBN 978-0-520-23293-8. 9780520232938. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  11. ^ Barnes, James J.; Patience P. Barnes (2005). Nazis in Pre-War London, 1930–1939: The Fate and Role of German Party Members and British Sympathizers. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-84519-053-8. 9781845190538. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  12. ^ "No. 31147". The London Gazette. 28 January 1919. p. 1361.
  13. ^ Mosley, Oswald (1968). My Life. London. p. 166.
  14. ^ Alter, Peter (2017). "Das britische Schwarzhemd". Damals (in German). Vol. 49 no. 4. pp. 58–63.
  15. ^ a b c d Mosley, Diana (1977). A Life of Contrasts. Hamish Hamilton.
  16. ^ a b c Macklin 2006, p. 24.
  17. ^ Macklin 2006, p. 25.
  18. ^ Sir Oswald Mosley, My Life, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1968, p. 190.
  19. ^ a b "Daily Mail". British Newspapers Online. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  20. ^ Cameron, James (1979). Yesterday's Witness. British Broadcasting Corporation, p. 52.
  21. ^ Chris Horrie, "Revealed: the fascist past of the Daily Mirror", The Independent, 11 November 2003.
  22. ^ "Darkness in the mirror". Tribune. 20 July 2010.
  23. ^ Cyprian Blamires, World Fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1 (Google eBook), pp. 288 and 435.
  24. ^ a b Gunther, John (1940). Inside Europe. New York: Harper & Brothers. pp. 362–364.
  25. ^ Mark Gould (22 February 2009). "Last reunion for war heroes who came home to fight the fascists". The Independent.
  26. ^ "Sir Oswald Mosley and the Jews – Communist Scuffle With Police". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 15 April 1935. p. 8.
  27. ^ "The Times". 20 May 1940: 3: "Disturbances at Fascist Meeting".
  28. ^ a b "The Mosley Files". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 14 November 1983. p. 11.
  29. ^ "Lady Mosley detained". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 1 July 1940. p. 2.
  30. ^ McPherson, Angela; McPherson, Susan (2011). Mosley's Old Suffragette – A Biography of Norah Elam. ISBN 978-1-4466-9967-6. Archived from the original on 13 January 2012.
  31. ^ Joseph Anthony Amato, Rethinking Home: A Case for Writing Local History (2002), p. 390.
  32. ^ Nicholas Mosley, Rules of the Game, Beyond the Pale, p. 503.
  33. ^ Jonathan Guinness, Catherine Guinness, The House of Mitford (1985), p. 540.
  34. ^ a b c Barberis, Peter; McHugh, John; Tyldesley, Mike (2005). Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 194. ISBN 9780826458148. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  35. ^ "Mosley Packs Them In", Pi Newspaper, 2 February 1961.
  36. ^ "Sir Oswald Mosley cremated in Paris". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 9 December 1980. p. 6.
  37. ^ Atkin, Nicholas (2009). Themes in Modern European History, 1890–1945. Taylor & Francis. p. 260. ISBN 0-415-39145-8.
  38. ^ Jones, Charlotte (20 December 2013). "The Code of Woosters, by PG Wodehouse: Splendid, Jeeves!". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  39. ^ Seeger, Peggy. The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook. Minnesota, USA: Loomis House Press. pp. 240–241. ISBN 9781935243120.
  40. ^ Thomson, Graeme (2004). Complicated Shadows: The Life and Music of Elvis Costello. New York: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-796-8.
  41. ^ Not The Nine O'Clock News: "Baronet Oswald Ernald Mosley", Some of the Corpses are Amusing. Archived 22 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ "'Worst' historical Britons list". BBC News. 27 December 2005. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  43. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCHCR0wZclg
  44. ^ Pierre Sorlin (1991). European Cinemas, European Societies, 1939–1990. Psychology Press. pp. 65–66. Retrieved 9 February 2014.

Further reading

  • Macklin, Graham (2006). Chamberlain. Haus Books. ISBN 978-1-904950-62-2.
  • Dorril, Stephen.Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism, Viking Publishing (2006), ISBN 0-670-86999-6
  • Farndale, Nigel. Haw-Haw: The Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce, Macmillan (2005), ISBN 9780333989920
  • Pugh, Martin.Hurrah for the Blackshirts!: Fascists and Fascism in Britain between the Wars, Random House (2005), ISBN 0-224-06439-8
  • Skidelsky, Robert. Oswald Mosley, Holt, Rinehart and Winston (1975), ISBN 9780030865800
  • Worley, Matthew. Oswald Mosley and the New Party, Palgrave Macmillan (2010), ISBN 978-0-230-20697-7
Primary sources
  • Mosley, Oswald, My Life, Arlington House (1968), ISBN 9780870001604
  • Mosley, Nicholas, Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley, 1896–1933 Secker & Warburg (1982), ISBN 9780436288494
  • Mosley, Nicholas, Beyond the Pale: Sir Oswald Mosley and Family, 1933–1980, Secker & Warburg (1983), ISBN 9780436288524

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Harry Deeley
Member of Parliament for Harrow
Succeeded by
Isidore Salmon
Preceded by
John Davison
Member of Parliament for Smethwick
Succeeded by
Roy Wise
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Cushendun
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Clement Attlee
Baronetage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Sir Oswald Mosley, 5th Baronet
(of Ancoats)
Succeeded by
Nicholas Mosley
Baron Moyne

Baron Moyne, of Bury St Edmunds in the County of Suffolk, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1932 for the Conservative politician the Hon. Walter Guinness.A member of the prominent Guinness brewing family, he was the third son of Edward Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh, third son of Sir Benjamin Guinness, 1st Baronet, of Ashford. His son, the second Baron, was a poet and novelist, and the first husband of Diana Mitford, one of the famous Mitford sisters, who went on to marry the fascist Oswald Mosley.As of 2017 the title is held by their eldest son, the third Baron, who succeeded in 1992. As a male agnatic descendant of both the first Earl of Iveagh and the first Guinness Baronet of Ashford, he is also in remainder to these two titles.

British Fascism

British Fascism is the form of fascism promoted by some political parties and movements in the UK. It was based on British nationalism with aspects of Italian Fascism and Nazism before and after World War II.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) and National Action (2013–2017).

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.

Dominion (Sansom novel)

Dominion is a 2012 alternate history novel by British author C. J. Sansom. It is a political thriller set in the early 1950s against the backdrop of a Britain that has become a satellite state of Nazi Germany. The point of divergence from actual history is that Lord Halifax, rather than Winston Churchill, succeeded Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister in May 1940.

Europe a Nation

Europe a Nation was a policy developed by British Fascist politician Oswald Mosley as the cornerstone of his Union Movement. It called for the integration of Europe into a single political entity. Although the idea failed to gain widespread support for the Union Movement, it nonetheless proved highly influential on the far-right thought in Europe.

Jeffrey Hamm

Edward Jeffrey Hamm (15 September 1915 – 4 May 1992) was a leading British Fascist and supporter of Oswald Mosley. Although a minor figure in Mosley's pre-war movement he became a leading figure after the Second World War and eventually succeeded as leader of the Union Movement on Mosley's retirement.

Lady Cynthia Mosley

Lady Cynthia Blanche Mosley (23 August 1898 – 16 May 1933), nicknamed "Cimmie", was a British politician of Anglo-American parentage and the first wife of the British Fascist and New Party politician Sir Oswald Mosley, who was a Member of Parliament in the Conservative and Labour parties.

Less Than Zero (song)

"Less Than Zero" is the eighth track on Elvis Costello's debut album My Aim Is True, and the first Costello single that Stiff Records released.

The song expressed Costello's anger after seeing former British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley interviewed on television attempting to deny his racist past. In the liner notes to the Rhino edition of the album, Costello writes:

"Less Than Zero" was a song I had written after seeing the despicable Oswald Mosley being interviewed on BBC television. The former leader of the British Union of Fascists seemed unrepentant about his poisonous actions of the 1930s. The song was more of a slandering fantasy than a reasoned argument.

The song therefore fits in with a number of others on early Costello albums that deal with themes of fascism and totalitarianism, which also include "Night Rally" from This Year's Model and "Goon Squad" from Armed Forces. In this case, a racist and totalitarian movement is seen in terms of sub rosa teenage sex: "Turn up the TV... Even your mother won't detect it/So your father won't know."

Allmusic critic Mark Deming describes the melody as "slow, slinky [and] sinister." Deming also suggests that the melody shows some reggae influences, even though the rhythm does not incorporate reggae syncopations. Deming describes the song as "controversial, audacious, and highly effective" as well as "a truly remarkable debut."On his first visit to the United States, Costello found that American audiences didn’t understand the song, writing in his 2015 autobiography, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, "I'm not sure if anyone in Cleveland has ever heard of Oswald Mosley or gave a damn about him when we played "Less Than Zero" that night. It was just some rock and roll music with a fashionable-sounding title". Later, he substantially rewrote the lyrics to refer to Lee Harvey Oswald. This was a reference to the common misconception among American fans that this was the "Mr. Oswald" referred to in the original lyrics. This version is usually referred to as the "Dallas version" and is available as a bonus track on the My Aim is True reissue, and a live version can be found on Live at the El Mocambo.

The song later provided US author Bret Easton Ellis with the title of his debut novel.

The song was also involved in Costello's infamous performance on Saturday Night Live on 17 December 1977. Following pressure from his record company to play the song on the show, Costello began to play the song, but he stopped after only a few bars, saying that "there's no reason to do this song here." He then launched into an unannounced performance of "Radio Radio", a song he had promised not to play. As a result, he was banned from the show until 1989. In 2015, Costello wrote of having seen the Saturday Night Live appearance as an opportunity equivalent to The Beatles’ first live US television performance on The Ed Sullivan Show: "[…] Columbia insisted that the second song should be "Less Than Zero". The song had already proven to be obscure to many American ears and if this was supposed to be our I Want to Hold Your Hand moment, I thought the song was too low-key". He had then come up with the plan to switch songs, inspired by a live performance on the BBC's The Lulu Show in 1969 in which Jimi Hendrix had scrapped a performance of Hey Joe after a few bars to instead play an impromptu tribute to Cream, who had broken up just days before."Less Than Zero" appears on the first Stiff Records compilation; A Bunch of Stiff Records, whilst the B-side, "Radio Sweetheart", appears on their second; Hits Greatest Stiffs.

Mosley baronets

There have been three baronetcies created for members of the Mosley family, one in the Baronetage of England and two in the Baronetage of Great Britain. Only one creation is extant. Since 1980, the title has been held jointly with Baron Ravensdale in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.The first Mosley Baronetcy, of Rolleston in the County of Stafford, was created in the Baronetage of England on 10 July 1640 for Edward Mosley, of Rolleston Hall, a grandson of Sir Nicholas Mosley of Hough End Hall (who acquired the Manor of Manchester in 1596 and was Lord Mayor of London in 1599) and nephew of the lawyer Sir Edward Mosley (the youngest son of Sir Nicholas and his first wife Marjorie, née Whitbroke). Sir Edward was a lawyer who had been knighted by King James I in 1614; appointed a justice of the peace and Attorney-General for the Duchy of Lancaster; and elected as a Member of Parliament for Preston in 1614, 1620-2, and 1624-5. It was Sir Edward who first acquired the properties of Rolleston Hall and Rolleston on Dove that became the family seat. Sir Edward (1596-1638) died unmarried and without issue, and his estates were inherited by his nephew—the Edward Mosley who was to become the 1st Baronet.

The 1st Baronet's father was Rowland Mosley (1558-1616), another son of the aforesaid Sir Nicholas and his wife Marjorie.

The second Baronet, also called Edward, sat as Member of Parliament for St Michaels. The baronetcy became extinct on his death in 1665.

The second Mosley Baronetcy, of Rolleston in the County of Stafford, was created in the Baronetage of Great Britain on 18 June 1720 for Oswald Mosley, a third cousin of the second Baronet of the 1640 creation. The title became extinct on the death of the third Baronet in 1779.

The third Mosley Baronetcy, of Ancoats in the County of Lancaster, was created in the Baronetage of Great Britain on 8 June 1781 for John Parker Mosley, who was a first cousin of the third Baronet of the 1720 creation. His grandson, the second Baronet, represented several constituencies in the House of Commons. His grandson, the fourth Baronet, served as High Sheriff of Staffordshire in 1915.

The sixth Baronet, Sir Oswald Mosley, grandson of the fourth Baronet, gained notoriety as the founder of the British Union of Fascists. He married as his first wife Lady Cynthia, second daughter of George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston. Lady Cynthia and her two sisters were in special remainder to the barony of Ravensdale created for their father in 1911. After her early death in 1933 Mosley married as his second wife the Hon. Diana Mitford, former wife of the Hon. Bryan Guinness, and one of the famous Mitford sisters. In 1966 Mosley's son from his first marriage, the seventh Baronet, succeeded his aunt as third Baron Ravensdale. On his father's death in 1980 he also inherited the baronetcy of Ancoats, which now is a subsidiary title of the barony. On his death in 2017, the baronetcy was succeeded by his grandson.

Two other members of the family may also be mentioned. Tonman Mosley, 1st Baron Anslow, younger son of the third Baronet, was a politician. Max Mosley, second son of the second marriage of the sixth Baronet, was the long-serving President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile.

The family seat was Rolleston Hall, near Rolleston-on-Dove, Staffordshire.

My Life (Oswald Mosley autobiography)

My Life is the autobiography of the British Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley. It was published in 1968.

National Party of Europe

The National Party of Europe (NPE) was an initiative undertaken by a number of political parties in Europe during the 1960s to help increase cross-border co-operation and work towards European unity. Under the direction of Oswald Mosley, a pre-war British fascist leader who returned to politics after the Second World War, the group aimed to bring together and merge a number of far-right groups from across the continent, all of which shared at least some commitment to a wider pan-European nationalism. The group failed to achieve its aims as most of its member groups preferred to maintain their independence.

New Party (UK)

The New Party was a political party briefly active in the United Kingdom in the early 1930s. It was formed by Sir Oswald Mosley, an MP who had belonged to both the Conservative and Labour parties, quitting Labour after its 1930 conference narrowly rejected his "Mosley Memorandum", a document he had written outlining how he would deal with the problem of unemployment.

Point Counter Point

Point Counter Point is a novel by Aldous Huxley, first published in 1928. It is Huxley's longest novel, and was notably more complex and serious than his earlier fiction.

In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Point Counter Point 44th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

Robert Forgan

Robert Forgan (10 March 1891 – 8 January 1976) was a British politician who was a close associate of Oswald Mosley.

Sir Oswald Mosley, 2nd Baronet, of Ancoats

Sir Oswald Mosley of Ancoats, 2nd Baronet (27 March 1785 – 24 May 1871) was a British politician and writer.

Sir Oswald Mosley, 4th Baronet

Sir Oswald Mosley of Ancoats, 4th Baronet (25 September 1848 – 10 October 1915), was a British baronet.

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.

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post-1945 groups
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