Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism by Stephen Dorril - review by Nigel Jones

Nigel Jones

The Case for the Prosecution

Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism


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Oswald ('Tom') Mosley was the Lucifer of twentieth-century British politics. Blessed with every apparent advantage – wealth, good looks, charisma, courage and ambition – he was the youngest MP in Parliament at 22, rose like a rocket, and was soon spoken of as a likely future Prime Minister. Until he was thirty-five he was unstoppable. At the heart of the ruling class, yet aligning himself with progressive causes (the League of Nations, Irish independence, the unemployed), he found the Tories too hidebound for his restless, impatient character, and switched smoothly to Labour. A splash of aristocratic glamour amidst the lumpenproletarian grey, he was adored by the masses, but detested by envious and plug-ugly party hacks like Herbert Morrison and Hugh Dalton, who suspected that Mosley's socialism was as thin as his roguish Valentino moustache.

They were right. Never lacking confidence in his own abilities, Mosley cultivated Labour's aristo-loving leader, Ramsay MacDonald, hoping to be Chancellor in his 1929 Labour government. Instead he got a junior ministerial post and was charged with combating mounting unemployment. When his perfectly sensible Keynesian proposals were rejected by the

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