Oswald Mosley must rank among the most controversial figures in 20th century British politics. His radical views forced him out of the Labour party in 1930 and soon after he formed his own political party, the New Party, whose policies mirrored his own extremist beliefs.
Heavily influenced by Mussolini’s National Fascist Party in Italy, in 1932, the New Party was subsumed by the British Union of Fascists (BUF). BUF members wore black uniforms earning them the nickname ‘The Blackshirts’. The BUF’s policies were ostensibly isolationist. Although the party was not officially anti-Semitic, many of its members were openly anti-Semitic.
In October 1936 Mosley and the BUF planned to march through the East End of London, then noted for its large Jewish population. Hearing of the march, anti-fascist groups erected barriers in an attempt to prevent it taking place. This resulted in a series of running battles between anti-fascists and police.
The Battle of Cable Street, as the event was later called, resulted in the passing of the 1936 Public Order Act, to control extremist political movements. The event is commemorated by a red plaque in nearby Dock Street.
During World War Two, like most active fascists in Britain, Mosley was interned. After the war he formed the Union Movement, whose policies, compared to the BUF, were more democratic, encompassing European unity, rather than total isolationism. Mosley died in 1980.
The man who ardently opposed mass immigration can be found within the findmypast.com passenger lists.
Here is Mosley, alongside his first wife Lady Cynthia Curzon, on board the Majestic, bound for New York in 1926:
Their marriage in 1920, attended by many branches of European Royalty, was, for many, the high society event of the year. During the marriage it is rumoured Mosley embarked on an affair with his wife’s younger sister Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, and also the sisters’ stepmother, Grace Curzon.
Here is Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, onboard the Olympic, also heading for New York, in December 1928:
In 1936, three years after Lady Curzon’s death, Mosley married Diana Guinness, née Mitford, one of the famous Mitford sisters.