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The British Union of Fascists’ policy in relation to Scotland- Tony Milligan

In the article, Milligan explains that Fascist organisation in Scotland in the 1930s was limited in both numbers and its spread across the country.Despite a similar situation in England of rising unemployment which led to a rise in support for fascist organisations, Scotland did not see such a rise. However, this article states that Scotland was not unreceptive to extremist politics.

By the 1930s there were a number of anti-Catholic organisations in Scotland, such as the Scottish Protestant League and Protestant action, in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. These organisations were large and sometimes violent in order to achieve their political ends.

Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid called for a ‘species of Scottish fascism’ after Mussolini’s seizure of power, and proclaimed the formation of Clan Alban in 1930, inspired by the Italian blackshirts (although this largely only existed on paper and in MacDiarmid’s imagination.

The New Party, formed when Oswald Mosely broke from the Labour party over a disagreement over unemployment, had 5 candidates stand in West Scottish constituencies in 1931, but did not do well in the general election. Milligan explains that The New Party left a political vacuum in Glasgow after the party’s campaign was effectively abandoned in the city, and local supporters rallied around William Weir Gilmour in its place. Weir Gilmour had his own definite ideas about how a Scottish fascist movement should be built. He had seen the success of Alexander Ratcliffe’s Scottish Protestant League, and used it as a blue print for fascist work in Scotland, and his splinter group was also anti-catholic.

The article also explains that the British Union of Fascists played on Scottish fears that the rural North of Scotland would be made a dumping ground for Jewish refugees from Germany.

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