Oswald Mosley

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Oswald Mosley

Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet (November 16, 1896 – December 3, 1980) was a British politician principally known as the founder of the British Union of Fascists.


  • That consecrated combination of private interests and public plunders.
    • Mosley on the banking system, Annual Report (1925) of the Independent Labour Party, quoted in Robert Skidelsky, Oswald Mosley (Papermacs, 1981), p. 142.
  • Faced with the alternative of saying goodbye to the gold standard, and therefore to his own employment, and goodbye to other people's employment, Mr. Churchill characteristically selected the latter course.
    • Winston Churchill, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, had returned Britain to the gold standard and Mosley believed this would lead to unemployment, quoted in Robert Skidelsky, Oswald Mosley (Papermacs, 1981), p. 143.
  • We propose first to expand credit in order to create demand. That new and greater demand must, of course, be met by a new and greater supply of goods, or all the evils of inflation and price rise will result. Here our Socialist planning must enter in. We must see that more goods are forthcoming to meet the new demand.
    • Revolution by Reason, p. 31, quoted in Robert Skidelsky, Oswald Mosley (Papermacs, 1981), p. 145.
  • The ranks of the City are now divided. The advanced section, headed by Mr McKenna and Mr Keynes, face the orthodox and reactionary ranks which are led by Mr Montagu Norman and the heads of the Treasury. To the uninitiated it...seems a little unfortunate that the ex-Labour chancellor should appear...to be an ardent supporter of Mr Montagu Norman. It will be little less than a disaster if in this struggle Labour support is accorded to the reactionary elements in the City.
    • Socialist Review (September 1927), quoted in Robert Skidelsky, Oswald Mosley (Papermacs, 1981), p. 152.
  • If you love our country you are national, and if you love our people you are a socialist.
    • Fascists, Michael Mann, Cambridge University Press (2006) p. 7.
  • The declared object of deflation was the restoration of the gold standard at pre-war parity. Its actual effect has been to create unemployment by the restriction of industrial credit. By the lever of unemployment it has forced down wages and has thus facilitated the return to gold through the reduction of prices. An incidental effect has been to transfer purchasing power from the workers, whose wages have been reduced, to the bondholders, whose interest has remained the same. It has also doubled the real burden of Debt since 1920, and was largely responsible for the mining lock-out last year, by the reduction in terms of sterling of the money which we receive for coal sold abroad. Deflation, in fact, has been responsible for a sinister catalogue of disasters which can be substantiated in detailed argument that has never yet been rebutted.
    • New Leader (20 September 1927), quoted in Robert Skidelsky, Oswald Mosley (Papermacs, 1981), pp. 152-153.
  • We have lost the good old British spirit. Instead we have American journalism and black-shirted buffoons making a cheap imitation of ice-cream sellers.
    • In 1927 after his Labour Party meeting in Cambridge was broken-up by pro-Fascist undergraduates. The mention of "ice-cream sellers" was a reference to Italian immigrants who had opened ice-cream parlours.
  • Feudalism worked in its crude and inequitable fashion until the coming of the Industrial Age. Today the Feudal tradition and its adherents are broken as a political power and in most cases are ignobly lending their prestige and their abilities to the support of the predatory plutocracy which has gained complete control of the Conservative Party. In modern times the old regime is confronted with two alternatives. The first is to serve the new world in a great attempt to bring order out of chaos and beauty out of squalor. The other alternative is to become flunkeys of the bourgeoisie. It is a matter of constant surprise and regret that many of my class have chosen the latter course.
    • Letter to The Morning Post (27 July 1928), quoted in Robert Skidelsky, Oswald Mosley (Papermacs, 1981), p. 134.
  • Together in Britain we have lit a flame that the ages shall not extinguish. Guard that sacred flame, my brother Blackshirts, until it illuminates Britain and lights again the paths of mankind.
    • 'Comrades in Struggle' (June 1938).
  • A fight between several parties of the British people: Nothing of the kind! A fight between two or three big money combines, that and nothing else. Without the weight of money behind the party machines, in an electoral battle today determined purely by principle and by the number of active workers...British Union could fight and beat today the old parties over the whole electoral field. But you know and I know, the battle is nothing of the kind. The battle is between big money combines who spend a thousand pounds or more on every constituency they fight. Or when they speak democracy, they don't mean government by the people...they mean financial democracy, in which money counts and nothing but money.
    • Speech in Earls Court (July 1939).[1]
  • Living financially and economically on American charity, selling up the house to the Yanks when he won't pay any more charity out. Are you content to be occupied and protected by American aeroplanes? Are you content to be in the position of an old woman, jipped by her young relations? You who were the greatest power on earth fifty years ago, and still can be! Why do I say, 'you still can be'? Because, my friends, I know you, I know the British people! I know that twice in my lifetime in the world war I fought in, in the world war the younger men fought in. We the British have put our effort, our energy of valor, of heroism, unequalled in the history of mankind.
    • Speech on 21 Novembver, 1960.[2]
  • [Fascism] was an explosion against intolerable conditions, against remediable wrongs which the old world failed to remedy. It was a movement to secure national renaissance by people who felt themselves threatened with decline into decadence and death and were determined to live, and live greatly.
    • Excerpt from My Life by Oswald Mosley (1968), Ch.16.
  • I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the left and is now in the centre of politics.
  • ...the old axiom that 'all power corrupts' has doubtful validity, because it derives from our neglect of Plato's advice to find men carefully and train them by methods which make them fit for heroes.
    • Excerpt from Beyond the Pale by Nicholas Mosley.
  • Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.
    • My Life (1968), Ch.12.
  • A prophet or an achiever must never mind an occasional absurdity; it is an occupational risk.
    • My Life, ch.12.

Quotes about Mosley[edit]

  • Tom Mosley is a cad and a wrong 'un and they will find it out.
    • Stanley Baldwin (21 June 1929), quoted in Thomas Jones, Whitehall Diary: Volume II (1969), p. 195. "They" were the Labour Party which had recently won the general election.
  • Mosley is the only man I have ever known who could have been the leader of either the Conservative or Labour party...he might have been a very great Prime Minister.
    • Robert Boothby in a BBC broadcast (10 November 1965), quoted in Oswald Mosley, My Life (Nelson, 1968), p. 373, n. 1
  • Capable of becoming either Conservative or Labour Prime Minister.
  • No rising star in the political firmament ever shone more brightly than Oswald Mosley, none promised more surely to soar to the heavens – and none fell to earth with so deadening a thud. Never were such rich talents so wretchedly squandered. Never did success turn to failure so inscrutably.
    • Michael Foot, Mosley: the rise and fall of a would-be Caesar, Evening Standard (22 October 1968)
  • Did he not appear to you to be a public man of no little courage, no little candour and no little ability.
  • He is too 'logical' and if he had his way would attempt to presently 'Russianize'...our government.
    • Thomas Jones' diary entry (22 May 1930), quoted in Whitehall Diary: Volume II (1969), p. 250
  • He is the only living Englishman who could perfectly well have been either Conservative or Labour Prime Minister.
  • He was the only English politician who might easily have become Prime Minister as Conservative, Liberal or Socialist.
  • I heard Mosley speak here on Sunday. It sickens one to see how easily a man of that type can win over and bamboozle a working class audience.
    • George Orwell to Jack Common (17 March 1936), quoted in Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (eds.), The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell. Volume I: An Age Like This, 1920–1940 (1968), p. 169
  • One would have had to look a long time to find a man more barren of ideas than Sir Oswald Mosley. He was as hollow as a jug. Even the elementary fact that Fascism must not offend national sentiment had escaped him. His entire movement was imitated slavishly from abroad, the uniform and the party programme from Italy and the salute from Germany, with the Jew-baiting tacked on as an afterthought, Mosley having actually started his movement with Jews among his most prominent followers.
    • George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius. Part I: England Your England (1941), quoted in Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (eds.), The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell. Volume II: My Country Right or Left, 1940–1943 (1968), pp. 92–93
  • The greatest comet of British politics in the twentieth century...an orator of the highest rank. He produced, almost unaided, a programme of economic reconstruction which surpassed anything offered by Lloyd George or, in the United States, by F. D. Roosevelt...He has continued fertile in ideas...A superb political thinker, the best of our age.

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