The British Union of Fascists

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The British Union of Fascists (BUF) was created in October 1932 by Sir Oswald Mosley. He modelled the BUF on the National Fascist Party in Italy. His followers wore black uniforms and were called the Black Shirts.

The BUF was anti-communist and anti-democratic. At its height it had 50,000 members. By 1935 the BUF was very friendly to the Nazi party.

The BUF’s racist policies often led to serious and violent conflicts within Great Britain. For example, the Battle of Cable Street which took place in October 1936, when over 2,000 anti-fascists prevented Mosley and his followers marching through London’s East End. Click here to view a newsreel account of the Battle of Cable Street. (The commentator of the film remarks that there were over 2,000 anti-fascists opposing the BUF. Estimates of the numbers present that day range from 50,000 to 250,000. The real number of people opposing the BUF may have filled Wembley Stadium three times over.)

In 1936 the Government passed the Public Order Act which banned the use of private uniforms and required police consent for political marches. In May 1940 the government banned the BUF. Mosley, along with his followers, was interned.