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THE BRITISH UNION OF FASCISTS AND THE OLYMPIA DEBATE

  • MARTIN PUGH (a1)

Abstract

The object of this article is to reassess received views about the significance of the 1934 rally at Olympia for the fortunes of the British Union of Fascists. It begins by analysing the debate in the House of Commons which is traditionally seen as reflecting a reaction against BUF methods, and shows the extent to which it actually revealed sympathy amongst National Government members. Then follows a discussion of reactions in the press. The article suggests that far from being purely negative, the effect of Olympia in some parts of the press was to attract more attention, and not necessarily of a hostile nature. Finally it examines the reasons for hesitation on the part of the government in using the law and the police to curtail BUF methods in the aftermath of Olympia. It shows how far Mosley continued to conduct large indoor meetings, partly because he was able to make use of the existing law. The article concludes that the British defence of free speech after 1934 was less firm than is usually supposed and that resistance to fascism by the authorities was of marginal significance.

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THE BRITISH UNION OF FASCISTS AND THE OLYMPIA DEBATE

  • MARTIN PUGH (a1)

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