Faculty of education department of english language and literature

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Great Britain between the Wars

Diploma thesis

Brno 2013

Supervisor: Written by:

Mgr. Zdeněk Janík, M.A., Ph.D. Bc. Pavla Klimková


Diploma thesis deals with the interwar period in the Great Britain. The first part of the diploma thesis offers political, economical and social description of the period. There were many changes concerning the social sphere, economical situation and international and national politics. The political situation shows Britain's stance towards the rest of the world and raising influence of the United States. The national scene dealt with the separation of Northern Ireland and voting rights for women. The economical situation experienced depressions and unsteady and unbalanced economical decisions caused still increasing unemployment. The second part of the diploma thesis deals with the occurrence and raise of fascism in Great Britain and explains why it was even possible for fascism to occur in so conservative Great Britain.


Great Britain, Inter-war period, Economical and political situation, Fascism


Diplomová práce se zabývá meziválečným obdobím ve Velké Británii. První část diplomové práce nabízí přehled politické, ekonomické a sociální situace. K mnoha změnám došlo jak v sociální a ekonomické sféře, tak na scéně národní a mezinárodní politiky. Politická situace poukazuje na britské mezinárodní postoje vůči ostatním států a rostoucí vliv Spojených Států Amerických. Na národní scéně se Británie zabývala zejména separací Severního Irska a zrovnoprávněním žen a jejich ziskem volebního práva. Ekonomická situace procházela mnoha depresemi a nesprávná a nevyrovnaná rozhodnutí vyvolávala stále zvětšující se nezaměstnanost. Druhá část diplomové práce se zabývá vznikem a nástupem fašismu ve Velké Británii a vysvětluje, jak vlastně bylo možné, že se mohl fašismus rozvinout ve velmi konzervativní Velké Británii.
Klíčová slova

Velká Británie, Meziválečné období, Ekonomická a politická situace, Fašismus


I declare that this diploma thesis is completely my own work and that all information gathered for its compilation is cited in the bibliography.

 V Brně dne 10.dubna 2013

Pavla Klimková


I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to Mgr. Zdeněk Janík, M.A., Ph.D. for his guidance, patience and encouragement throughout the development of this thesis.

Anotace 2

The introduction 7

Chapter 1: Interwar politics 9

1.1 Right to vote and voting system 10

1.2 Election of 1918 and politics in 1918-1922 10

1.3 First Labour government and politics of 1923-1931 13

1.4 National Government, politics of 1931-1936 and the Abdication crisis 16

1.5 On the road to war and appeasement politics 18

1.6 The overview of chapter 1 19

Chapter 2: Interwar economy 20

2.1 1918-1921 20

2.2 1921-1929 22

2.3 1929 – 1932 25

2.4 1932-1939 27

2.5 The overview of chapter 2 29

Chapter 3: Interwar Society 31

3.1 Shifts in power and wealth and changes within social classes 31

3.2 Working classes 32

3.2.1 Extension of vote 32

3.2.2 Working conditions 33

3.2.3 Standard of living and housing 35

3.2.4 Health Care and Old-Age pensions 36

3.3 Unemployment and poverty 36

3.3.1 Life on dole 39

3.4 The overview of chapter 3 40

Chapter 4: Culture and leisure 40

4.1 The Golden Age twenties 41

4.2 The fashion 42

4.2.1 Flapper 42

4.2.2 Fashionable 1930's 43

4.3 Culture 44

4.3.1 Cinema 45

4.3.2 Music and dancing 46

4.4 Bright Young People 48

4.5 Sports and media 49

4.6 The overview of chapter 4 52

Chapter 5: The beginnings of fascism 53

5.1 Roots of fascism in Britain 54

5.2 Early fascist movements 55

5.2.1 The British Fascisti 55

5.2.2 The National Fascisti 57

5.2.3 The Imperial Fascist League 58

5.3 The overview of chapter 5 60

Chapter 6: The British Union of Fascists 61

6.1 Oswald Mosley 61

6.2. The British Union of Fascists 64

6.2.1 Starting the party 64

6.2.2 The structure and people of the party 65

6.2.3 The actions of the party 68

6.2.4 Support for the king 70

6.2.5 Anglo-German campaign 70

6.3 Overview of chapter 6 71

Conclusion 73

List of literature: 76

Appendix: 82

The introduction

The aim of my thesis is to provide an overview of Great Britain in the interwar period and to show whether fascism had any influence over the Great Britain in this period. The thesis reflects various aspects of life in the interwar period with focus on whether and how this period was influenced by fascist ideology and also how the fascist ideology influenced these aspects of life.

The first chapter deals with politics on the national, as well as international, scenes. At the beginning of the period the main concern was the return to normal and reconstruction. The international scene was focused, at the beginning of the period, on restoring some kind of order in the world and punishing Germany. This chapter introduces politically important acts that influenced the popularity of Fascism and shows us the political development of the most famous British fascist leader Oswald Mosley.

The second chapter is devoted to the economy of this period. The main issue of this period was the enormous unemployment and the impact it had on people in the form of strikes. The rise of the extremist ideologies is shown and explained mostly in the period around the Great Strike in 1926.

Two chapters are given to describe the lifestyle of the period, chapter three and four. In chapter three lives of the poor and unemployed is described, including the reasons for their dissatisfaction and disappointment with the government, from which the reasons for their inclination towards the extremist theories are deduced. The chapter shows many changes concerning the poor and unemployed that were conducted including the foundation of the welfare state.

Chapter four deals with the middle and upper classes and their lifestyle. The 1920's in the Great Britain were the years when the first night clubs, cinemas, movie theatres and cabarets appeared. The jazz, flappers, new hair styles and dress styles are only some of the things that made this period distinct and unforgettable. Chapter four, therefore, deals with the reasons for inclination towards the new ideologies, including the fascism, in the middle and upper classes.

The last two chapters of the thesis deal with fascism in Great Britain. The aim of these chapters is to show that although many think that Britain belongs to the few lucky countries which had not been infiltrated by this ideology, the opposite is true. Fascism found many admirers in Britain, however, never enough to establish itself firmly in the society. I try to find out why fascism could even invade Britain, where a very strong conservative feeling was.

Chapter five shows us the beginnings of fascism in Great Britain and explains how the bases of the ideology were established amongst the British people. It describes the British early outlook towards fascism and provides description of different fascist parties and ideologies and people behind them.

Chapter six deals with Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascist. The chapter provides an explanation of the fascist influence over some aspects of life in the interwar period in the Great Britain as well as important government acts that helped to stop the spreading of this influence.

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