Timely and original, this remarkable book reveals for the first time how close Britain came to being a Fascist state in the inter-war years.
Britain is celebrated for having avoided the extremism, political violence and instability that blighted many European countries between the two world wars. But her success was a closer thing than has been realized. Disillusionment with parliamentary democracy, outbreaks of fascist violence and fears of communist subversion in industry and the Empire ran through the entire period.
Fascist organizations may have failed to attract the support they achieved elsewhere but fascist ideas were adopted from top to bottom of society and by men and women in all parts of the country. This book will demonstrate for the first time the true spread and depth of fascist beliefs - and the extent to which they were distinctly British. Like the Continental movements, fascism in the UK encompassed the corporate state, charismatic leadership and youthful rejection of the decadent rule of the older generation. But was it less anti-Semitic? Was it readier to adopt a feminist agenda? And was the fact that Britain finally repudiated fascism more a matter of timing and chance than of fundamental obstacles in British society and politics?
Hurrah for the Blackshirts
!, rich in anecdotes and extraordinary characters, shows us an inter-war Britain on the high-road to fascism but never quite arriving at its destination.
Martin Pugh was Professor of Modern British History at Newcastle University until 1999, and Research Professor in History at Liverpool John Moores University from 1999 to 2002. He has written ten books on aspects of nineteenth and twentieth century history and is on the board of BBC History Magazine. He is currently writing a social history of Britain between the wars for Cape and Pimlico.
This scholarly book shows how widespread fascism was before and in tandem with Mosley’s New Party, the British Union of Fascists, half the Conservative Party and many royals.' Philip Howard, The Times
,'Pugh is one of the most well-respected, diligent and honest scholars working in British history today.This book deserves to be read.' Gerard DeGroot, Scotland on Sunday
,'The link between a distinct wing of Conservatism and the Italian form of fascism is substantiated in this outstandingly revelatory book.' Edward Pearce, Glasgow Herald
,'Fascism did not just come from the East-End toughs. It also came from women, the countryside and from parts of the industrial North. Pugh explores these various strands with a keen eye for detail and a lively sense of the absurd.' Richard Vinen, Independent
,'This book demonstrates for the first time the true spread and depth of fascist beliefs- and the extent to which they were distinctly British.' David Graham, Manchester Evening News