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Blackshirts in Badsey

On January 11th 1935, Mr J M Bent of Bowers Hill presided over a Fascist meeting held in Badsey Council School.  This was the first public meeting to be held in the village under the auspices of the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists formed in 1932, but better known as Blackshirts, and there was an attendance of over 70 people there.

He said that Fascism would not appeal to those who thought they were living in the best possible world; it would only interest those who thought things were not as they should be.

Following on from this visit, on Saturday 27th July, Sir Oswald Mosley, the Blackshirt leader, was the speaker at a garden party held at Pool House, High Street, Badsey, which was opened by his mother, Maud, Lady Mosley.  There was an attendance of about 200 at the party, which consisted mainly of women.

Interviewed by the Evesham Standard after the meeting, Sir Oswald would not confirm or deny that he was standing at the next general election for the position of MP, adding that he had not decided which constituency he would be a candidate.  When asked, if not him, would anyone else be standing in the election, he said that they may not have enough time for the next election to get any candidates together, but they definitely would for the one after that.  (They did not get to contest an election, as they decided to abstain from the 1935 election, and the next election in 1945 was 5 years after the party had been disbanded).

He claimed to have begun life closely associated with agriculture in the breeding of shire horses and shorthorns, and said he had never lost touch with the land.  The existing agricultural problems were, he said, the worst in the country and no one could claim to be content with things as they were at the present.  He railed against the National Government who stated that they had accomplished much and that the problems had been solved.  He stated that agriculture was being ruined by imports which was evidenced in the beef and milk producing branches of the industry but it was more truly reflected in the fruit growing section.

Fascists loved their King, their country and their flag, and it was their intention to overthrow the forces which had put Britain and the Empire up for sale, and to build a new party to vote them into power so that they could act, not talk, and at the end of five years they would seek the opinion of the country and accept its verdict as to whether they had failed or succeeded.  This was not tyranny.  The real tyranny and dictatorship was the City of London.

Among the questions asked was why certain national newspapers had withdrawn their support of the Fascist movement.  Sir Oswald replied that Lord Rothermere, the owner of associated Newspapers who published the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail, gave him great assistance in the way of publishing at the start, but national newspapers could not exist without the support of advertisers and advertising was largely controlled by Jewish financiers, who were opposed to Fascist policy as they were violently anti-Semitic and closely associated with the German Nazi party.  Local papers were different and often much fairer.

John Sharp - March 2020