The history of Britain’s main manifestation of inter-war fascism, Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists [BUF], continues to be a hotly contested field of study. A new biography of Mosley, work on gender and the BUF, and the incorporation of new models of generic fascism have made important contributions to the historiography of the BUF. However, until recently, almost no historical consideration of the BUF’s career in Scotland had been attempted. But work by Tony Milligan and Henry Maitles has opened up the topic of fascism in Scotland between the wars. This article seeks to build on these contributions, and examines two groups of factors that led to the failure of fascism in Scotland. The inability of the BUF to find political space in Scotland, allied to internal organisational weaknesses, compounded by the indifference of the English fascist movement to the BUF in Scotland created flaws that characterised the Scottish BUF from the outset. These weaknesses were exacerbated by the failure of the BUF to understand the Scottish dimensions of politics, such as the cross-cutting appeal of Scottish nationalism, and religious tensions. Finally, anti-fascist opposition proved to be especially problematic for the Scottish BUF.


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pp. 306-331
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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