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Peaky Blinders‘ fifth season introduced Sir Oswald Mosley as a new foe for Tommy Shelby, and he was so powerful that Tommy himself said that he’s finally met his match. Mosley thinks of Tommy as an ally, but the power dynamics between them mean that Mosley is still at an advantage—especially since that failed assassination plot.
Fans of the show have been wondering if the fascist politician was a real person, especially since his storyline prominently deals with politics. Mosley was in fact a real person, and his storyline on Peaky Blinders is pretty true to who he was in real life.
Who was Oswald Mosley?
Mosley was born into an aristocratic family, and he was a Baronet (hence his “Sir” title). In the 1920s, Mosley became a politician and he rose to fame as a Conservative member of Parliament, and he later became leader of the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in the ’30s . And yes, he was actually sleeping with his wife’s younger sister and stepmother.
And as in the show, Mosley had radical (read: bad) ideas about race and immigration, and in his book, Fascism: One Hundred Questions Asked And Answered, Mosley outlined his beliefs on race:
“We believe profoundly in our own British race which has created the Empire, but we know also it would be bad for the Empire to stigmatize by law other races within it as inferior or outcast. We have created that Empire without race mixture or pollution, by reason of the British social sense and pride of race…. All immigration will be stopped. Britain for the British, is our motto, and all of Britain is required for the British. Further, all foreigners who have already been naturalized will be deported unless they have proved themselves valuable citizens of Great Britain.
Jews must put the interests of Britain before those of Jewry, or be deported from Britain. This is not a principle of racial or religious persecution. Any well-governed nation must insist that its citizens owe allegiance to the nation, and not to co-racialists and co-religionists resident outside its borders or organized as a state within the State.”
The BUF included Nazi sympathizers among its ranks, and as the party drew more towards anti-Semitism, some members began to resign. The BUF also continued to clash with anti-fascists, as seen on Peaky Blinders.
By the mid-1930s, the British Security Service were secretly monitoring Mosley and the BUF, as they thought Mosley’s charisma and powerful speeches would gain the party more power and financial support.
In 1936, Mosley married his mistress Diana Mitford at the home of Joseph Goebbels. Adolf Hitler reportedly attended the nuptials.
Mosley was arrested in 1940, and although he was never formally charged with a crime or stood trial, he and his wife ended up being interned under Defense Regulation 18B, as the law allowed the internment of people suspected of being Nazi sympathizers. The BUF was also banned in the UK.
How did Oswald Mosley die?
In 1943, Mosley and Mitford were released from prison and were confined to house arrest, mostly due to Mosley’s poor health.
After World War Two ended, Mosley formed the Union Movement. The party wanted a single nation-state to cover the continent of Europe. The Union Movement’s demonstrations were routinely disrupted by demonstrators, which led to Mosley’s decision to move to Ireland, and then France.
In 1959, Mosley came back to the UK to run in the United Kingdom’s general election. His campaign focused on anti-immigration, and he called for the repatriation of Caribbean immigrants and a ban on interracial marriages. Mosley finished the election with 8.1% of the vote.
In 1966, Mosley tried to return to politics again, and he when he lost (again), he went back to Paris, where he died in 1980 at the age of 84.
In 2005, Mosley landed on the BBC’s list of the 10 worst Britons of the last 1,000 years. In 2019, the Australian man charged with killing worshippers at two New Zealand mosques said Mosley was his one of his inspirations.
Who played Oswald Mosley on Peaky Blinders?
Sam Claflin plays Sir Oswald Mosley. You probably know Claflin from movies like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Hunger Games series, and Me Before You.
The actor was excited to join the BBC/Netflix show, as he told The Telegraph. “From Steven Knight’s writing to the consistently brilliant production, I couldn’t feel more privileged to be invited to join this iconic show,” Claflin said.