By Dave Renton
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Extra info for Fascism, Anti-Fascism and Britain in the 1940s
As well as the Communist Party and the National Council for Civil Liberties, the rest of the left was also involved in the anti-fascist campaigns, as far as resources permitted. So Common Wealth, the Socialist Party of Great Britain and the Trotskyists of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) all played a part. Alongside the working-class left, there were also a number of Jewish groups which organised against the fascist threat. 207 The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen (AJEX), organised by Major Lionel Rose, held street meetings in which ex-army speakers would defend Zionism, or the role of Jews in the war.
Before 1939, Labour supported anti-fascist demonstrations. Clement Attlee had given his support to Republican troops in Spain. As late as 1943, many Labour MPs voted against Morrison’s decision to release Mosley. 199 Between 1945 and 1951, however, the Labour government did nothing to stop fascism. There were no Labour-sponsored demonstrations against fascism, no speaking tours, no pamphlets, and no campaigns. There was no change in the law, neither to ban fascist parties, nor to outlaw anti-Semitic propaganda.
The Northern Command HQ had to be closed down and the number of paid staff was reduced from 143 to 30. 65 1939–45 Again, however, the fascists recovered from their set-back. In the last months of summer 1939, the British Union of Fascists even enjoyed something of a boom in popularity. In July 1939, Oswald Mosley spoke to an audience of up to 20 000 people at Earl’s Court. He told them that ‘a million Britons shall never die in your Jews’ Fascism and Anti-Fascism, 1918–51 21 quarrel’. 66 The BUF portrayed itself as an innocent party of the patriotic middle classes, keen only to avoid another war on the scale of 1914–18.
Fascism, Anti-Fascism and Britain in the 1940s by Dave Renton