It is 26 years since Oswald Mosley breathed his last at the Temple de la Gloire, the athletic frame which he had once so proudly flexed now sadly bloated, his piercing eyes shrunk to peepholes, the sinister moustache long shaven. It is 66 years since Churchill brought his serious political career to an abrupt end by interning him in Brixton jail. Yet Mosley never quite stops haunting us. He provokes questions that some people think have not been properly answered even now, stirs uneasy if fading memories, tickles up nightmarish might-have-beens. Was he a lost leader, a usable Lucifer who need not have fallen? Why did he go off the rails, or was he pushed? Did he ever come within touching distance of power, and if so when? Was he right about the Slump and how to cure it, and, by extension, right about the Old Gang blocking his path? Martin Pugh's publishers tell us breathlessly that 'this book demonstrates for the first time how close Britain came to being a Fascist state in the interwar years.' Is that a fact or just a pretty piece of hype? Does the limelight that Mosley continued to hog show how powerful his hold was over the British people, or was it merely a reflection of the far more powerful and evil megawattage sweeping the Continent?
LRB 6 July 2006 | PDF Download