Fascism in East Anglia : the British Union of Fascists in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, 1933-1940
This thesis examines five key issues relating to the emergence and development of the British Union of Fascists in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex between 1933 and 1940. Firstly, it provides an analytical account of the B. U. F.'s involvement in the East Anglian `tithe war' during 1933-1934, which pays particular attention to fascist motivation, the extent of Blackshirt anti-tithe activism, and the various constraints limiting the impact of the Mosleyite interventionist strategy. Secondly, the B. U. F. 's anti-war policy and the government's implementation of Defence Regulation 18B (IA) are discussed in a regional context. Evidence from the three counties is used to give qualified endorsement to revisionist arguments, which maintain that the Blackshirt Peace Campaign boosted recruitment and attracted disaffected pro-appeasement middle class Tories. Reasons are also put forward to explain why the 18B round-up of B. U. F. adherents in eastern England proceeded in such an inconsistent manner. Thirdly, the size and social characteristics of the local Blackshirt support base are investigated. Approximate recruitment levels for active and non-active members in Norfolk, Suffolk and provincial Essex between 1934 and late 1938 are calculated, and detailed analysis of a sample of 230 Mosleyites from the area affords a valuable insight into the social class and occupational structure of the local movement. Fourthly, this thesis considers the protean nature of the B. U. F. 's appeal from both a `regional ' and `national' perspective by consulting the oral and written testimonies of 22 `East Anglian' and 75 other Blackshirt adherents. Finally, the various external and internal factors hampering the B. U. F. 's progress in the three counties are discussed within the framework of a conjunctural model of fascist political success. A number of key constraints, including unfavourable socio-economic conditions, a lack of `political space', internal deficiencies and state management of domestic fascism, marginalised the local Blackshirt movement.