Having gained a place in the Parliamentary Labour Party, Mosley swiftly rose up the ranks, closely aligning himself with leader Ramsay MacDonald. In the years of opposition in the late 1920s, Oswald Mosley was called upon to define a prospective Labour Government’s economic philosophy. These tenets became known as the Birmingham Memorandum. While the programme was not enthusiastically received by the Labour Leadership, his support among younger MPs and the wider membership led to him being appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1929 Labour administration.
This administration fell in mid-1931 following the onset of the Great Depression. When the King refused Ramsay MacDonald’s resignation and suggested a National Government, Macdonald was threatened by expulsion by the Labour Party. MacDonald offered his resignation and suggested the King send for Mosley and in the event he could not form a government, that there should be an election. Mosley was able to form a National Government on a platform of a mixed economy and a corporatist agenda which gained support from both those on the classic left- like Aneurin Bevan and on the right- like Harold MacMillan. This government was supported by non-nationalist Conservatives for the imposition of tariffs on non-imperial trade.
In the subsequent election, Mosley’s National candidates won a majority in Parliament. The government set about nationalisation and corporatism. Also notable during this National Government was Home Rule for India and the creation of a National Health Service. His premiership also saw the refusal to rearm in the face of German expansion and amicable relations to the Fascist nations of Europe.
Mosley was forced to resign following the abdication crisis of 1936. He had vigorously supported King Edward VIII and Parliament’s refusal to accept the King’s marriage to Wallace Simpson made his position untenable. He was succeeded by Clement Attlee who was largely responsible for overseeing the birth of the National Health Service. Despite a great deal of opprobrium from Leader of the Opposition, Winston Churchill, Attlee continued to pursue his predecessor’s policy of non-aggression.
The Anschluss and the invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland turned public opinion in Britain against the National Government’s policy of non-aggression. Churchill came to power in 1940 on an election campaign of rearmament. When Hitler launched an invasion of the USSR, however, Britain and France were in no position to wage a total war on the continent and had no choice but to passively witness the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In stark contrast to the Nationals, Churchill turned Britain decidedly anti-Nazi. A new alliance was forged with France and independence was granted to a new Jewish homeland: as much a gesture of aggression against Hitler as a manifestation of Zionism. Hitler, meanwhile, reveled in his victory in Russia and set about consolidating power in the east. He also forged the Pact of Rome between the fascist nations of Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal. While Japan was also present, it withdrew after Hitler’s failure to declare war on the US following Pearl Harbor.
Churchill followed the US in declaring was on Japan, hoping to foster good relations in order to build an anti-fascist alliance. France was also brought into the war when Japan attacked Indo-China. Despite initial success, Japan was eventually pushed back and surrendered following the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Shortly after, the Nazis detonated their own nuclear bomb. This is widely seen as marking the beginning of the Cold War.
Having witnessed the destructive power of the atom bomb, the world now held its breath as democracy and fascism stood toe to toe. Added to this was the complication of communism. The Truman Doctrine appealed to the defeat of both fascism and communism- effectively meaning the West had to fight on two fronts.
Hitler retired in 1950 on the grounds of ill health. He died several months later. His successor, Martin Bormann concentrated on consolidating the Reich domestically. Despite this, tensions rose gradually through the 1950s and almost came to a head in 1956 with the Suez Was. The war was seen as something of a political defeat for Germany- in any event, the Egypt had been defeated before Germany could mobilise. Nevertheless, it led to Bormann’s downfall and Himmler’s succession.
The other consequence of the crisis was the union of Britain and France. President Eisenhower’s refusal to support the war meant that Britain and France seemed isolated within Europe. Trouble in the French colonies and a stalling of both economies led to the political argument for unification which occurred in 1957.
1963 is seen as the closest the world came to nuclear war during the Brazilian Missile Crisis.