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Oswald Mosley

Oswald Ernest Mosley was born in Manchester on 16 November 1896, the son of the fifth baronet and heir to a sizable fortune.

Entering Parliament as a Conservative Party member in 1918 at the age of 22, Mosley was hailed as a visionary and future Prime Minister in the 1920s but fell to disgrace as the jailed leader of Britain’s black-shirted Fascist fringe.

mosleyImpatient with the established political parties, Mosley founded his own in 1931. The short-lived New Party, after electoral disaster, was disbanded and in 1932 he sank more of his personal capital into a new venture – the British Union of Fascists.

The real turning point in his fortunes came in April 1934, when he addressed his largest meeting in Olympia, London.

But his speech was soon interrupted by a handful of hecklers who had infiltrated the hall. The savage beating they received at the hands and boots of the fascist stewards horrified most of the audience and alienated millions of people.

The blackshirts’ antics in marching through the strongly Jewish East End of London in 1936 provoked the bloody “Battle of Cable Street” and a subsequent government ban on political uniforms that remains to this day.

When war came in 1939, Oswald Mosley was, to his surprise, considered a security risk. A year later he was arrested and detained with his second wife, Lady Diana, under British defence regulations.

After a stay in Brixton Prison, he was transferred to Holloway Women’s Jail to join his wife in a comfortable flat. They were released in 1943 on the grounds of his poor health.

Mosley resurrected his movement when peace came but failed again and went into self-imposed exile in France. He died in his sleep in 1980 at his home at Orsay, near Paris. He was 84.