Friends of Oswald Mosley
(Published in the January/February 2008 issue of European Action No 14)
Everybody remembers the first time they heard Oswald Mosley speak. Mine was at precisely 3 o’clock on the afternoon of Sunday, May 14, 1961 in Trafalgar Square. It was a glorious Bank Holiday weekend. Some people say of their first occasion that they “came to jeer but stayed to cheer”. Not me. I knew exactly what I was going to hear and I was not disappointed. A few years previously, aged 15, I had come across a book, ‘Mosley - The Facts’, in the old Chelsea Public Library in Manresa Road. That red-jacketed book began a journey for me that continues half a century later and will not end until the day I hear the chiming of the hour.
In it, Mosley set out his ideas for nothing less than the transformation of Great Britain. His policy of ‘Britain First in Europe a Nation’ would make us strong enough to stop Soviet Russia taking over the rest of Europe without us becoming the servile underling of America. Economic life would flourish within its self-contained frontier, our great industries protected from the destructive effect of cheap labour competition from Asia and Africa.
In time, Europe would become the richest, most powerful and beneficent civilisation the world had ever seen.
A Mosley government would also stop mass immigration once and for all. Even then it was threatening the cultural identity of all the great races of the world; leading to the rootless ‘international airport departure lounge’ society we have today. Large parts of the South London I knew had already become Caribbean or Asiatic townships. I wanted to live in a British city.
The book also described Mosley’s version of an economy based on syndicalist principles. Instead of company profits going into state coffers or the pockets of capitalists, they should be distributed among the working people who produced them. It promised to be the biggest redistribution of wealth in the history of the world.
That first time, as I stood in the Square with the warm sun on my back and some school mates by my side, there was a feeling of anticipation and excitement. And a hint of danger. The crowd stretched back from the base of the Column to the pavement opposite the National Portrait Gallery. On the plinth, beneath Nelson’s distant gaze, stood a man I later knew to be Jeffrey Hamm giving the warm-up speech.
Before long I could hear the sound of drums coming from Whitehall as the Union Movement marchers approached. Then I noticed a number of young men in white shirts and black ties, the unofficial uniform of the Movement, slowly infiltrate the crowd ready to be on hand in the event of trouble. One of them I recognised as Mosley’s red-haired son Max.
Jeffrey Hamm reached the peroration of his speech with perfect timing: “And now I give you a man whose name is on the lips of all Britain, nay, of all Europe – Oswald Mosley”. On to the plinth jumped a grey-haired man in a grey double-breasted suit. He flashed a smile as he quickly appraised his audience and began to speak. His strong, resonant voice filled the Square: I had never heard oratory like this before.
Mosley spoke for over an hour without notes, without hesitation and without interruption. He had a marvellous joined-up way of speaking and a powerful grasp of words. Here was a master in the use of alliteration, intonation and emphasis to make a point and lead to emotive plateaux in the speech that brought thunderous applause. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up more than once.
I have absolutely no recollection of what Mosley said in that speech though no doubt it followed the lines of the book. What I do remember is the feeling. I was no longer a spotty-faced teenager from Chelsea. I was a member of the greatest race the world had ever known and we were going to make history and achieve wonderful things that would be honoured for generations to come. Hey, what’s wrong with that?
By the end of the speech nobody was moving in the Square. Even the day-trippers were rooted to the spot by the man in the double-breasted suit. As the cheering subsided, Mosley descended into the Square surrounded and protected by his followers. As he walked through the throng, a forest of arms rose in the full salute, mine among them. Quickly it was all over, Mosley entered a grey Riley saloon car and was driven swiftly away.
Ten weeks later I remember hurrying back by train from Spain to attend the next Mosley rally in Trafalgar Square held on Sunday, July 30. And I was there again on Sunday, October 8, when the Leader’s new book ‘Mosley – Right or Wrong?’ was launched [see page 4, bottom left - Ed]. You could not help noticing that each time the Square was packed even denser than before. Anyone who had come to feed the pigeons those Sundays was out of luck.
Union Movement’s Finest Hour
But the greatest rally of them all was still to come. On Sunday, May 13, 1962 it felt like half of London was in the Square and along its side streets. Few looked like casual passers by to me. People were getting really worried about immigration and nobody else was willing to make a stand. The Cold War was getting dangerous but few felt that the unilateral disarmament of CND was the answer. The housing problem was still acute. Mosley had common sense answers for all these problems and the common thread was that Europe should unite and unite now. At this time, National Headquarters in Victoria was receiving over a thousand enquiries a week, new branches were springing up and membership was growing.
After another tremendous speech, a column began to form for the march back to NHQ. I fell in with my school chums. Now I know that we used to march three abreast, rather than the usual military four, a little trick to stretch the length of the column. But I could tell something amazing was happening, so many people joined the march that day that when the front was entering Parliament Square the rear had only just left Trafalgar Square. At one point Mosley looked back and commented to the London Area Organiser, Fred Bailey, who was marching by his side, “Quite like old times, Fred”. You just knew that we were on a roll.
As I marched along Whitehall, some scruffy Reds on the pavement spat at us. But it was the proudest moment of my life. On passing through Parliament Square, bells sounded. The East Londoner in front of me shouted, “See, even Big Ben’s chiming for us!”. Everybody laughed.
Then it was up Victoria Street to Union Movement’s NHQ where we were due to disperse. Vauxhall Bridge Road was solid with people right up to Victoria Station, all traffic had long since given up hope of getting through. I stood not four yards away from Mosley. He turned from side to side and repeated, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Cold words as you read them on the page but the way he said them produced the sensation that a piece of melting ice was running down my spine. I thought, a few more marches like this and the whole of Britain would sit up and take notice.
But other eyes were watching and alarm bells began to ring. An unholy trinity of Establishment, communist and Jewish interests arose and began to act. Reds and the street terrorists of the 62 Group attacked our meetings en masse. The Tory Government banned us from Trafalgar Square and local Labour councils denied us the use their public halls. Mosley and Union Movement fought on but the forces of reaction ranged against us were overwhelming.
Was it all worth it? Of course it was! It sent a message to future generations. Not only about Mosley’s ideas that in modern guise could still bring peace, prosperity and order to human affairs. But the knowledge that if men and women of strong resolve stand bravely, and can endure, then nothing that corrupt enemies can throw at them can ever break them. As the continuing existence of initiatives like ‘European Action’ proves.