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Mosley, Sir Oswald

Mosley, Sir Oswald (1896–1980). Labour politician, orator, and fascist. Born into the landed aristocracy and educated at Winchester, Mosley served with distinction during the Great War. From 1918 to 1924 he sat as MP for Harrow, first as a Conservative and then as an Independent. In 1924 he joined the Independent Labour Party, and was Labour MP for Smethwick 1924–31. Mosley epitomized the impatience of post-1918 youth with conventional party politics, which he felt was incapable of dealing with social and economic problems. In Labour he affected to see ‘the forces of progress’ as opposed to ‘the powers of reaction’, but as a member of the Labour government of 1929 he became disillusioned with its unwillingness to challenge Treasury orthodoxies, and was lured by the attractions of fascism as an ideology and of anti-Semitism as a device. His British Union of Fascists (formed 1932) failed to win a parliamentary seat, and was proscribed in 1940, when Mosley himself was interned.

Geoffrey Alderman

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