The many mysteries of Sir Malcolm Campbell

Bluebird at Daytona Beach, 1935

Bluebird at Daytona Beach, 1935. Image source: Florida Photographic Collection.

Well, the title of this post is a lie -- there's only two mysteries that concern me here, and one isn't particularly mysterious ...

Sir Malcolm Campbell was a world-famous British speed maniac (there's no other word for it), setting many records on land and sea. The last one was just over 300 mph, at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, in his specially-constructed car Bluebird. His son, Donald, famously and tragically was killed in 1967 trying to emulate his father's exploits. My interest in Campbell derives from his book on The Peril from the Air (London: Hutchinson & Co., n.d. [1937?]) -- fairly standard knock-out blow stuff, though with a greater emphasis on the utility of ARP than most (for example, he describes a large air-raid shelter he had built on his own estate, for his family and employees). Though he was most commonly seen pushing cars and boats to ludicrous speeds, he was also a pilot: in the First World War he had flown fighters in defence of Britain.

The lesser mystery first: when was The Peril from the Air published? It's one of those annoying books without a publication date. The British Library catalogue suggests it was published in 1937. This fits with internal evidence from the book: for example, he talks about the Abdication Crisis at the end (the public's sound reactions gave him confidence for the future!) which was at the end of 1936. Searching through The Times digital archive, I find only one mention of the book, where it is mentioned that he was the speaker at a Foyles literary luncheon, on the topic of 'The Peril from the Air', on 16 December 1937. I had assumed that this meant the book was published around that time. But ... another book published in 1937 refers to Campbell's book, H. Montgomery Hyde and G. R. Falkiner Nuttall's Air Defence and the Civil Population (London: The Cresset Press, 1937). Now, this was certainly published around the end of August; it was reviewed in The Times on 3 September 1937. So for Hyde and Nuttall to be aware of Campbell's book, it must have been published well before then, and so long before his Foyle's luncheon. Well, that's no problem, really -- there might have been a perfectly good reason why it took him months to do the publicity for his book. But there's another twist: Hyde and Nuttall's bibliography gives the date of The Peril from the Air as 1936! I think this is probably just a typo for 1937. But it's possible that there was an earlier edition published in 1936, though no mention of it is made either in the edition I saw or in the BL catalogue. It's also just possible that they saw an advance proof or manuscript in or from 1936. This occurred to me because Hyde had great connections: he was Lord Londonderry's librarian and personal secretary and co-authored a book or two with Lady Londonderry.1 Londonderry was, of course, an ill-starred recent Air Minister; and the Londonderrys knew everyone -- they were famous for their parties. So it's not inconceivable that Campbell sent an advance copy of his book on airpower to Londonderry for his perusal or comments, and that Hyde would therefore have access to it. But still, it's probably just a typo, and The Peril in the Air was probably published some time before August 1937. As I said, not much of a mystery.

The other, more interesting one is: was Campbell a fascist? Supposedly, Bluebird was adorned with BUF insignia. The possibly-not-completely-trustworthy website run by the Friends of Oswald Mosley has this to say about Campbell (oddly, in its biography of J. A. Chamier, Secretary of the Air League ):

In 1938 The Air Defence Cadet Corps was set up, and interestingly, on its organising council was Sir Malcolm Campbell, who broke the world speed record for Britain. Campbell's car "Bluebird" carried the insignia of the BUF as its badge. Of course members of the movement had a right to privacy regarding their membership of the BUF and Mosley never mentioned their names unless they specifically told him that he may do so.

Malcolm Campbell by sporting the blackshirt badge nailed his colours to the mast as did John Chamier by joining the BUF January Club, which included many influential people.

More respectable is Stephen Dorril's biography of Mosley, where he writes:

Mosley had reason to celebrate when on 3 September 1935 Sir Malcolm Campbell, in a Rolls-Royce-engined Bluebird adorned with the pennant of the BUF Volunteer Transport Service, broke the land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats. He achieved 301.1292 mph. A romantic adventurer, educated in Germany, he had served with the RFC and had been a pilot to the Prince of Wales. He made his money selling cars, dealing in diamonds and formulating libel insurance for newspapers. The Mail's motoring correspondent and one of Rothermere's diehard friends, he unsuccessfully stood for the Conservatives in Deptford in 1935. Campbell was a 'convinced fascist and the nominal head of the propagandist British Movietone News, which displayed thinly disguised attacks on Trade Unionism and Parliamentarianism'. He frequently visited the Black House [BUF HQ] and was part of a racing-car network which embraced the BUF's Automobile Club.2

There's also another little bit about Campbell's business dealings with a member of the BUF Automobile Club.

So why am I questioning Campbell's fascism? Mainly because The Peril in the Air is not a book I would expect a fascist to write. It might be a book that a disillusioned fascist would write. He is strongly critical of fascism in practice:

Under the Nazi regime every vestige of personal liberty vanishes. There is no such thing as public opinion, save that dictated by the leaders of the State. To publicly voice any sentiment or opinion in conflict with that laid down by the State is a sure passport to the concentration camp, the prison, or even in extreme cases to the executioner's block. Service and sacrifice are demanded in full measure from the individual from the cradle to the grave, and in return he receives nothing but the mere right to live until such time as he is commanded to lay down his life for the State.3

He goes on to say that, repugnant as this is to British ideals, 'it has welded Germany into a cohesive and terribly efficient machine, with potentialities of danger to the peace of the world which far transcend anything in else in history'.4 He doubts the proffered German explanation of the need to defend against the Bolshevik menace, because the latter works by subversion from within rather than by using military force. Campbell does imply that he had perhaps sought out Mosleyite propaganda:

I listened the other day to the leader of the British Fascist movement, when he laid down that the true foreign policy for this country is to seek an alliance with Germany and Italy to form a Fascist bloc to fight Communism -- and other things -- and so to preserve the peace of Europe and the world.5

But if he was such a great fan of Mosley, it's odd that he would not only reject this plea, but that he would also dismiss the BUF leader's argument that Germany had no desire to become a world power in such scornful terms: `Was there ever such a negation of fact and evidence?'6

Not that Campbell was a leftie or anything -- he's even more critical of pacifists like George Lansbury and their `idiotic pronouncements',7 and he's sympathetic to the achievements of Mussolini in Italy (a sentiment shared by many conservatives, after all). But he does come out strongly in favour of democracy over fascism, both because the former is inherently more free, and because the latter is inherently more likely to lead to war (which of course was a mortal threat to every nation, in this age of the knock-out blow).

There's some more evidence for Campbell's non-fascism (or rather, non-evidence for his fascism). His Oxford DNB entry doesn't mention fascism at all, and none of my other books on British fascism mention him. Nor does Griffiths' Fellow Travellers of the Right. Dorril's sources for his passage on Campbell seem to be all secondary, and none obviously authoritative, on the face of it. And I haven't been able to find any photos of Bluebird with BUF insignia. There's a small British flag or two, and an American one too, but that's all.

So, it seems to me that by 1937 (or maybe 1936!), Campbell was no longer a `convinced fascist' -- if he ever was one at all.


  1. He also later became first a very liberal Ulster Unionist MP, and also wrote many histories, including (as H. M. Hyde) British Air Policy between the Wars, 1918-1939 (London: Heinemann, 1976), though his more usual topics were Oscar Wilde and Roger Casement. 

  2. Stephen Dorril, Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism (London: Viking, 2006), 356. 

  3. Malcolm Campbell, The Peril of the Air (London: Hutchinson & Co., n.d. [1937?]), 102. 

  4. Ibid. 

  5. Ibid., 103-4. 

  6. Ibid., 104. 

  7. Ibid., 111. 

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20 thoughts on “The many mysteries of Sir Malcolm Campbell

  1. From LoC catalog:

    LC Control Number: 52017010
    Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
    Personal Name: Campbell, Dorothy (Whittall), Lady. [from old catalog]
    Main Title: Malcolm Campbell, the man as I knew him.
    Published/Created: London, new York, Hutchinson [1951]
    Description: 232 p. illus. 24 cm.

    Also:

    LC Control Number: 70436723
    Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
    Personal Name: Drackett, Phil.
    Main Title: Like father like son: the story of Malcolm and Donald Campbell.
    Published/Created: Brighton (Sussex), Clifton Books, 1969.
    Description: 118 p. 8 plates, ports. 22 cm.
    ISBN: 0901255068

  2. Campbell was a 'convinced fascist and the nominal head of the propagandist British Movietone News, which displayed thinly disguised attacks on Trade Unionism and Parliamentarianism'

    Wonder where that quote came from.

    My interest is in British Movietone News, though only as an occasional viewer of material as it turns up in documentaries. I would be surprised if it had fascist overtones.

    There was another stir, many years ago, about the theory that John Grierson was a fascist. I doubt it very much.

  3. Post author

    Alan:

    Thanks. As I thought, no copy nearby, I'd have to ILL it. As I understand it, their married life was quite stormy so it could be a lively read!

    David:

    Unfortunately Dorril's book is one of those annoying ones which lists a bunch of references for each topic, instead of using numbered endnotes. It's also one of those annoying ones which directs you to a website for the full bibliography, which at least lists the references for each paragraph. Here's the relevant bit from the website:

    356/1. Leo Villa and Tony Gray, The Record Breakers: Sir
    Malcolm and Donald Campbell Land and Water Speed Kings of the
    20th Century, Paul Hamlyn, 1969, 51. Sir Malcolm Campbell, My
    Thirty Years of Speed, 1935, and Speed on Wheels, 1949; J.
    Wentworth Day, Speed, the Authentic Life of Sir Malcolm
    Campbell, 1931. Campbell wrote Peril from the Air (1936) and
    Drifting to War (1937). Comrade, January 1991.

    Firstly, another vote for 1936 as the date of publication of The Peril from the Air! (I've just noticed: his 1937 Who's Who entry doesn't mention it.) Secondly, J. Wentworth Day wrote another biography of a right-wing 1930s figure with interests in speed, aviation and the media, Lady Houston.

    So I think the quote probably comes from Comrade, which is or was published by the Friends of Oswald Mosley. As I said, not obviously authoritative ... I did come across a paper which mentions Campbell's role at Movietone, but it only says he was an 'ardent conservative' and doesn't mention the f-word. T. J. Hollis, "The Conservative Party and film propaganda between the wars", English Historical Review 96 (1981), 359-69 (JSTOR).

  4. Pontius

    Some interesting stuff here. Not really my area of knowledge. I've always found the British flirtation with Fascism quite amusing. I think that there was a lot of disquet about the rise of the Left, - after all, the Russian Revolution was not exactly ancient history, Communists were gaining power acroos Europe.
    An uncle of mine was quite enamoured of Mosely at that time. However, he - like most others, hadn't really grasped the full implications of the Nazi version of Fascism, and that it had more effects than just getting the trains to run on time.... He fought in the RAF just as ardently as anyone else. I think that British perception of Fascism in the thirties was as naive as the pre-war Oxford and Cambridge students who were unable to see the true nature of that odious doctrine.
    Perhaps, if Campbell did flirt will Mosely's crowd, like my relative, he became disturbed by the actions of the Nazi's. One suspects that this may have been true of Mosely himself too. I'm sure that he would have been overjoyed at the ever-closer EU which now engulfs the UK.... Looks like he had the last laugh...!

  5. Post author

    Yes, it's certainly plausible to me that Campbell was at one point interested in the BUF (after all, his mention of a Mosley speech indicates he was paying more attention to them than was the average punter) but then moved away from them for some reason, possibly very quickly. If so, 1937 is fairly early for such disillusionment, Griffiths' book indicates that generally such fellow travellers needed the events of 1938 or even March 1939 to push them away from philo-Nazism. In that sense it would be to Campbell's credit. But what troubles me about all this is that there is one lot of sources saying he was 100% fascist and another lot completely ignoring the question. He's being either whitewashed, or blackwashed -- or both!

    On Mosley, I don't think he was too worried by Nazi actions (though neither was he a Nazi puppet). He and the BUF generally moved in a pro-Nazi direction as the 1930s progressed, partly by absorbing smaller, more radical groups. Of the German annexation of the remainder of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, he claimed that it was necessary because of internal collapse, whereas most people saw it as a cynical repudiation of the Munich agreement signed only months beforehand. I don't know if Mosley ever formally (or convincingly) repudiated his links with the Nazis, or his fascism, or his racism. He did live to see Britain join the EEC, so I suppose he would have been happy about that!

  6. Kristijan

    It seems that you Britons still didn't learn anything from your mistake made by declaring war on Germany(or,how you like to say,helping Poland).The main reasons of your Goverment for attack on Germany were:

    1st-A promise to Poland that you will defend it in case of invasion(strangely enough,it seems you've forgot to declare war on Stalin's Russia who invaded Poland from the East the same day as Germany from the West.I wonder why!?)

    2nd-Keeping the British Empire intact-Few years after the WW2 you could say,what Empire???

    3rd-Destruction of all dictatorships in Europe-I don't have enough fingers on my hands to count all of them in Eastern Europe after the WW2,brought to power by you and your ally,Stalin

    4th-Eternal peace and happiness for all European nations-Yes,I'm sure that the people in European countries under the communist regime were extremely happy!

    Of course,when Mosley and his followers 'dared' to raise a voice against another war between European nations,you just thrown them into your concentration camps,without charge or trial,under suspicion they 'could be' traitors.Of course,the fact that one of the main characteristics of Fascism is patriotism didn't bother you,the same as the fact that the very first British casualties in WW2 were two young RAF airmen,Brocking and Day,who were also Mosley's Blackshirts.

    After all that,you still have the guts to question Mosley's policy?Strange nation you are,indeed...

  7. Kristijan

    Except calling me names(which is all you can do),i can't see that you've even manage to dispute anything I've wrote.Thanks for proving my point!!!

  8. Post author

    Kristijan, you seem to have come here looking for a fight. Nothing you have written has anything to do with my post or the comments. I'm not even British, so your rant is based on a faulty premise to begin with. As for the rest ...

    1. My understanding is that formally, Britain's alliance with Poland obligated it to assist only in the event of a German attack (which was fully expected). Legal niceties aside, of course the Polish guarantee was aimed at stopping German expansionism. Hitler had been rattling European cages since 1933, broken promise after promise -- the last straw came just before the Polish guarantee, when Germany occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia, only months after guaranteeing its independence at Munich, and Hitler explicitly saying that the Sudetenland comprised his last territorial claims in Europe. The USSR was not seen as expansionist before September 1939 (and by the way, it invaded Poland two weeks after Germany had done so: it was practically already done for) and in any event did not threaten British interests like Germany did. Even so, some military action against the USSR was contemplated over the winter of 1939/40, mainly looking to restrict the flow of supplies to Germany.

    I have no idea what explanation you are darkly referring to ('I wonder why!?'), so please enlighten me.

    2. This was not directly a reason for attacking Germany. How could it be? Germany did not have the capability to threaten any British imperial possession. It didn't gain that capability until Italy entered the war in June 1940 and did not exercise it until Rommel landed in North Africa in 1941. Besides, Britain was willing to return the German colonies it held as League Mandates, if that would keep Hitler quiet. But he was not in the least bit interested.

    In passing, I note that this is a strange argument to use in 2006, as I don't think many Britons today actually want the Empire back, and so whether going to war with Germany in 1939 helped or hindered the task of holding onto the Empire is nowadays beside the point.

    3. Again, 'Destruction of all dictatorships in Europe' was not a war aim in 1939. Where did you get that idea? Can you show me which politicians in Britain in 1939 were saying, let's go and liberate all of Europe? Of course that wasnt the aim; otherwise Britain would have declared war on the USSR, Italy, Spain and 6 or 12 other unpleasant regimes (including its ally, Poland!) And been squashed like a bug. As I said before, the war was to stop Germany. That's all. (And it did.)

    4. 'Eternal peace and happiness for all European nations'. This is just silly. Again I ask when did Britain ever give any indication that this is why it went
    to war with Germany? Sounds like the La-la-land school of international diplomacy to me, rather than any position held by any British statesman, ever.

    I get the feeling that your real complaint is that having gone to war to ostensibly protect Poland, Britain allowed it to become a Communist dictatorship after the war -- along with half of Europe. It can certainly be argued that the Allies (not just Britain, which after all was in no position to insist on anything in 1945) did not do enough to prevent or even protest this. But getting back to 1939, what, exactly, do you think Britain should have done instead? What do you think would, or even could have happened? Would the Nazis dominating all of Europe have been better than the Soviets dominating only half of it? It's hard to imagine any better future arising out of British inaction in the face of Nazi aggression, but please, be my guest if you think you can do so.

    Now, on the internment of the BUF. I actually agree that this was a mistake by the British government, as I think all such mass internments are a mistake. But, two points. First, Mosley did have strong links with Germany and Italy, aside from the obvious ideological alignment. He accepted thousands of pounds in funding from both of those countries, his wedding was held in Germany with Hitler as one of the guests, he had commercial interests in Germany. When he spoke of peace with Germany, it's hardly surprising that he was viewed with suspicion, therefore. Secondly, I've never said BUF members weren't 'patriotic'. It would be surprising if they were not, as fascists generally are ultra-nationalists (on Roger Griffin's definition, anyway). But ... so what? Does being patriotic mean they were right? Does being patriotic mean they were not deluded? Does being patriotic mean they did not hold thoroughly despicable beliefs? Fair enough; they shouldn't have been locked up. But you should ask yourself who the BUF would have locked up if it had ever gained power in Britain. And whether it would have stopped with just locking them up.

    Finally, perhaps David was wrong to assume that you are yourself a fascist. But your shocked outrage that anyone today could think poorly of those nice BUF people is slightly disturbing. Fascism, as such, is today reviled in most places around the world, and rightly so. So it's odd that you seem so surprised to encounter criticism of it. I struggle to imagine a place where fascists are nowadays welcome in polite society, but I'd like to know where it is, so that I can leave it out of my travel plans.

  9. Nabakov

    I'd like to return to Kristijan's original premise - that declaring war on Nazi Germany was wrong.

    Why?

    Brett has attempted to intelliegently and respectfully respond point by point.

    My response is lot sharper. The British Empire for all its many and vicarious faults still always had a certain streak of decency running through it, if only so they could look at themselves in the mirror.

    And since the early 19th century, the Brits proudly took the lead in stamping out slavery. So everyone from their smarter ruling class to the trade unionist on the Clapham omnibus was well aware that Hitler's vision for Germany would eventually create a new slave state in mittle Europa. And even worse, one run by those bloody Krauts.

    So the Brits drew a line in sand. Not over Chezcho but Poland. My parents. living in London in September 1939, remember vividly Neville declaring war. And they told me the prevailing attitude was basically weary resignation - here we go again. But very very few complaints we shouldn't.

    And that was before everyone found about how one of the most civilised and educated countries in the world developed an industrial nation-wide killing machine for people that I hope that we shall never see the like of again.

    Or to put it really fucking bluntly, the prevailing ethos of western civilisation today sees the likes of you Kristijan as surplus to our requirements. But you'll get left alone anyway instead of having your hair and body fat turned into blankets and soap for SSBN crews, and the rest of you sent up a chimney.

  10. Nabakov

    Much shorter me. The Nazis were evil and the Brits lead the way in stopping them, regardless of the cost.

  11. Kristijan

    Brett,I didn't came here looking for a fight.Also,my post was an answer to the second part of your post,so I wouldn't say it's got nothing to do with your post.

    1.Main difference between your and mine point of view can be seen from one part of your post:
    "the last straw came just before the Polish guarantee, when Germany occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia".
    What you call the occupation of the rest of Czechoslovakia,I call creating of independent Slovakian state.The same thing is probably with the Yugoslavia,USSR,etc.You and people like you(I don't mean that in a negative way,just as people different than people like me)were always looking at them as nice,homogenic states,not realising that there was aways one dominant nation in those quasi-states(Czechs in Czechoslovakia,Serbs in Yugoslavia,etc)who were exploiting other nations who were part of that country.
    As far as I know,USSR invaded Poland the same day as Germany,and after two weeks gave explanation it did so in order to protect Poland(which is quite funny,considering that they were allies with Germany at that point).
    The explanation for my 'I wonder why' is very simple.Now,when most of the files from WW2 are open,it is clear that British Goverment preffered cooperation with Stalin's Russia instead with Germany.It was probably to please Labour party,which had strong connection with Stalin.One of the many favours made to Labours was interment of the BUF members in exchange for Labour support for Churchill's government.

    2.You said:"Germany did not have the capability to threaten any British imperial possession."I completely agree with that.It just shows how wrong was British Government in those days,thinking that Germany was main threat to British Empire.Unless you really believe that it went to a war for some other reason!?

    3.Destruction of dictatorships in Europe was one of the formal reasons of entering the war(of course it was not the real reason,I mean,who really believes today that the USA has attacked Iraq because of WMD!?)
    It all comes to the basic reason,the battle between two types of political options;National-Socialism and Democracy.

    4.For this one,You said it all,it really is only something used by international diplomacy.It is unbelievable how many people actually believed those words then.

    I'm glad that we agree that Britain was,after WW2,only formally a winner(quote:"not just Britain, which after all was in no position to insist on anything in 1945".
    I think that Britain should do what Mosley proposed,which was 'Mind Britain's business' policy.First duty of every government is to take care of it's own people and it's own country.As I said before,their biggest mistake was wrong conclusion that Germany is after British colonies.The only thing they had to do is to read 'Mein Kampf',where Hitler has described his ideas about german's 'lebensraum'.

    I'm also glad that you think the interment was a mistake.Now,few things about Mosley.Yes,he did receive the funds from both Italy and Germany,same as the labour and GBCP from Russia,which was completelly legal.

    Next,you said:"Does being patriotic mean they were right? Does being patriotic mean they were not deluded? Does being patriotic mean they did not hold thoroughly despicable beliefs?"

    I think that the best answer to that is the fact that not a single BUF member who was interned was ever charged.
    Who would they locked up(and for what reason) is completely hypothetical question,we're talking about the facts here.

    Finally,about fascism.I personally think that the fascism is the political option which belongs to the past,although one of it's main characteristics should be very useful today(the election of the parliament on franchising profile,rather than geographical;so called 'Corporate state').
    Mosley realised that at the end of the war,that's why he advertised 'Europe a Nation' policy(which was,by the way,something completely different than EU today).

  12. Kristijan

    I almost forgot,this is my favorite(by Nabakov):
    "Much shorter me. The Nazis were evil and the Brits lead the way in stopping them, regardless of the cost."

    If you want to see the fight between good and evil,go and see 'Lord of the Rings'.
    The wars are not started because of good and evil things,but because of political,religious,teritorial,or some similar reasons.

    When asked does he realise what will be with half of Europe if it comes under the Stalin rule,Churchill said to his advisor:"Are you planning to live in that part of Europe?Neither do I".
    Enough said about that good and wise leader...

  13. Post author

    Kristijan, thanks for your courteous reply (in the face of some rough handling!) Unfortunately, as an account of modern British history it's not any more accurate than your previous comments. Of course, if you believe you can support your arguments with sources, I'd be very interested to see what they are.

    'What you call the occupation of the rest of Czechoslovakia,I call creating of independent Slovakian state.'

    Are you trying to tell me that Nazi Germany violated the Munich agreement and occupied Bohemia in order to nobly set the Slovakian people free? They invaded Yugoslavia in order to set the non-Serbs free? Because it most certainly did not.

    I haven't been able to confirm this, but apparently, the Slovakian puppet state actually paid Germany to take its Jews away. (Eg, see here.) Certainly it stripped them of their citizenship and expelled them. I doubt democratic Czechoslovakia could have treated its minorities any worse than that.

    'As far as I know,USSR invaded Poland the same day as Germany,and after two weeks gave explanation it did so in order to protect Poland(which is quite funny,considering that they were allies with Germany at that point).'

    No. Again, the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939, two weeks after the German invasion. Any decent history of WWII will note this, as does Wikipedia.

    'Now,when most of the files from WW2 are open,it is clear that British Goverment preffered cooperation with Stalin's Russia instead with Germany.It was probably to please Labour party,which had strong connection with Stalin.'

    This last is nonsense. Yes, of course Britain preferred to co-operate with the USSR rather than Germany. As I explained, Germany was the problem, not USSR. Britain had tried to co-operate with Germany (appeasement) and this had failed (German occupation of Bohemia), so Britain cast about for military options. Poland looked like the next target (hence the guarantee), but the USSR was the only power which could actually help Poland on the ground (hence the alliance talks). There is no need to invoke some connection between the Labour party and the USSR (which I think you exaggerate; the Labour Party was not the CPGB). Besides which, Labour was not in power, had no power, and Chamberlain was certainly no friend to them, so why he would try to commit his country to an extraordinary peacetime alliance with a nation he despised just to please his ideological opponents and political rivals is beyond me.

    'One of the many favours made to Labours was interment of the BUF members in exchange for Labour support for Churchill's government.'

    Again, no. The decision for internment came not from pressure from Labour (who anyway were about Churchill's strongest supporters in 1940) but because of fears of spies, fifth columnists, Quislings and a German invasion. As I said, I think it was the wrong decision, but it doesn't take a genius to see why the British government made it.

    'I completely agree with that.It just shows how wrong was British Government in those days,thinking that Germany was main threat to British Empire.Unless you really believe that it went to a war for some other reason!?'

    You misunderstand me. Britain and the British Empire are not the same thing. Germany was a threat to BRITAIN, not so much to the EMPIRE. British foreign policy for centuries had been based upon the need to make sure that no one country dominated Europe (particularly the Low Countries), because that threatened Britain itself.

    'Destruction of dictatorships in Europe was one of the formal reasons of entering the war(of course it was not the real reason,I mean,who really believes today that the USA has attacked Iraq because of WMD!?)'

    Again, no, it was NOT one of the formal reasons for Britain's declaration of war. The only formal reason was the invasion of Poland. And again, I can't understand where you would get the idea that Britain claimed that it was going to destroy ALL dictatorships in Europe. I don't think regime change in Germany was called for until much later in the war (it's implicit in unconditional surrender, perhaps, but not actually required but it), but even so -- ALL dictatorships? No, Britain never claimed this.

    'For this one,You said it all,it really is only something used by international diplomacy.It is unbelievable how many people actually believed those words then.'

    Once more you misunderstand me. I'm not just saying such a foreign policy would be incredibly unrealistic, I'm saying that nobody in power in 1939 believed, or even claimed to believe in such a foreign policy. It's just not true that the British government claimed to be fighting for 'Eternal peace and happiness for all European nations'.

    'I think that Britain should do what Mosley proposed,which was 'Mind Britain's business' policy.First duty of every government is to take care of it's own people and it's own country.As I said before,their biggest mistake was wrong conclusion that Germany is after British colonies.The only thing they had to do is to read 'Mein Kampf',where Hitler has described his ideas about german's 'lebensraum'.'

    No. As I already explained, Britain wasn't worried about Germany grabbing its colonies, and in fact probably would have given Germany back its old colonies, had it wanted them.

    'I think that the best answer to that is the fact that not a single BUF member who was interned was ever charged.'

    Best answer? That's not even an answer at all to the question which I asked, which was whether being patriotic means that one's political beliefs are correct, or even moral.

    'Who would they locked up(and for what reason) is completely hypothetical question,we're talking about the facts here.'

    You're the one who opened the door to counterfactual speculation by asserting that BUF policy was a better policy for Britain than the one actually followed. You have to follow the implications of that all the way through.

    'Finally,about fascism.I personally think that the fascism is the political option which belongs to the past,although one of it's main characteristics should be very useful today(the election of the parliament on franchising profile,rather than geographical;so called 'Corporate state').'

    Few fascists today would disagree with any of this, I suspect.

  14. Christine Keeler

    Good grief. I come here to get away from the stoushes that so infect the blogosphere.

    Great response BTW Brett.

    As for the Soviet Union, what Kristijan so conveniently fails to point out is that it would have never been in a position to dominate Eastern Europe for fifty years had not a certain German strategic genuis decided to extend the boundaries of his own empire eastwards in June 1941.

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  17. Campbell didn't have fascist emblems on Bluebird, according to the fascist weekly paper The Blackshirt it carried the fascist colours ie red, white and black. Campbell was a secret National Head Quarters member of the British Union, I saw his membership card decades ago but it was decided to destroy it. Someone should ask MI5 to open their file on Campbell, they are not obliged to do so under Freedom of Information from which they are exempty but are often amenable to such requestsl

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