Wednesday, 4 April 2012

When Mosley was in Smethwick...

Following on from Malcolm X and Christabel Pankhurst another controversial political figure with links to Smethwick was Oswald Mosley.

Our favourite local historian Mary Bodfish explained that.....
“At the general election of 1926 a new candidate for Smethwick was fielded by the Labour party . This was Mr (later Sir) Oswald Mosley.

He had entered Parliament in 1918 as Conservative MP for Harrow, but had already abandoned them to become an independent; and had now crossed the floor to become a socialist.”

Mary sent us the above photo too and explained that it shows Oswald Mosley, the Socialist candidate in the Smethwick by-election, campaigning with his wife Lady Cynthia Curzon, December 1926.

Mary went on to say that “after serving in the First World War Oswald Mosley was driven by the unemployment and later the depression that blighted the country in the 1920s.

As Smethwick MP he was appointed as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and he put before the government of the day a radical programme to address these issues. When the government rejected his proposals Mosley resigned from office and left the Labour Party in 1931 to form the New Party, while still representing Smethwick. None of the New Party candidates gained seats at the general election of that year and a Conservative represented Smethwick for the next 14 years.

It was after meeting the Fascist leader Benito Mussolini in Italy the following year that Mosley disbanded the failed New Party and replaced it with the notorious British Union of Fascists.

Recollections of his time in Smethwick include his being a brilliant and charismatic speaker, but even at this date surrounding himself with a coterie of the kind of bully-boys who became such a feature of his years as leader of the fascists in Britain.”

If you want to know more about our local history, Mary Bodfish’s your lady.

Mary is the chair of the Smethwick Local History Society who get together on the second Wednesday of every month at Bearwood Baptist Church (on the corner of Rawlings Road and Bearwood Road in Smethwick, B66 4HA). The meetings start at 2pm.

Their next get together is on Wednesday 18 April when Peter Kennedy will speaking about one of the most daring WWII exploits, the Nazaire Raid.

Fascinating stuff!

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