Tuesday, 3 November 2009
THEN AND NOW
From Editorial, issue No 25, November/December 2009
(photo) OM being interviewed at 302 Vauxhall Bridge Road in 1962
Readers of European Action who listened to our CD of Oswald Mosley on the David Frost Show will be aware of OM’s masterly performance before a live audience on British television and how he handled hostility from the audience with his usual aplomb.
Throughout the show, Mosley had to contend with shouting from a section of the audience, mainly Jewish communist militants, whose life-long purpose seemed to consist entirely of attempts to silence Mosley wherever he stood up to speak.
Solly Kaye was the most vociferous on this occasion but the only point to be made from this Jewish thug’s behaviour was how Mosley was perfectly justified in forming his supporters into a uniformed defence force. It was the only way to overcome organised communist violence in those days.
As a television performance it stands out as a good lesson in political triumph in the face of adversity.
Coming to the present day, I wonder how people would compare Nick Griffin’s descent into the lion’s den that is BBC’s Question Time to Oswald Mosley’s noisy reception on the David Frost Show on November 16, 1967.
Here we have two examples of method and technique ... how to do it and how not to do it. But are there any lessons to be learned for the present day that would assist anyone who wants to succeed in politics?
Mosley always gained control of a situation, often turning what was potentially a disastrous situation to his advantage. He did it through sheer force of personality. It was his powerful personality that held sway in the face of communist intimidation on the David Frost Show. He had the situation under permanent control as a result.
According to Paul Callan of the Daily Express on October 24 (whose grandparents were Jewish immigrants fleeing Russia, by the way), Mosley “was undoubtedly a charismatic speaker”. Callan’s article was entitled, Fascists Always Fail in Britain, and was largely aimed at Nick Griffin and the far-Right fringe.
This Daily Express columnist begins, “The bigoted babblings of the porcine-featured British National Party leader, Nick Griffin, on Thursday’s Question Time would have inflicted a feeling of nausea on decent people”. It goes on in similar vein with Griffin as “gorge-raising fascist” and so on ... but never is Griffin referred to as possessing charisma.
I find it significant that Callan, who also interviewed Mosley in the late 1960s, should attribute charismatic qualities to Mosley and remain very much the anti-fascist. John Freeman, the broadcaster who interviewed Mosley for BBC’s Panorama programme around the same time, described Mosley as the most intelligent British politician he had ever met.
No one is going to say any of those things about Nick Griffin no matter how many BNP local councillors are elected. His performance on Question Time will go down in broadcasting history as probably one of the worst by any aspiring politician.
What we saw was a man bereft of any personality, moral courage or honesty. He writhed and squirmed, ducked and dived throughout the questions ... and, unlike Mosley, he had no real violently noisy opposition. Just an audience that laughed at his ineptitude. I had a little chuckle, myself.