The Forces of Law and Order

  • Gisela C. Lebzelter
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series (STANTS)


The reaction of the political authorities against anti-Semitic propaganda has to be seen in the context of their reaction against domestic Fascist organizations in general, and in particular against the political violence caused by Fascist agitation. While obscure movements like the Britons or the IFL received little notice despite their vigorous anti-Semitism, the BUF stirred enough support and commotion to focus attention. As early as October 1933 Lord Trenchard, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, warned the Home Secretary of the adverse effects of Fascist activities. He argued:

The wearing of uniform by members of a political organization is looked upon as provocative, not only by members of the Communist Party of Great Britain and kindred organizations, but by more responsible members of the public. Moreover it is an incentive to their opponents to adopt similar measures; for example, the Communist Party is endeavouring to resuscitate its ‘Defence Force’…. The Fascists, however, are more active in this respect, and numerically stronger, and there is reason to fear that these displays will cause further breaches of the peace before the end of the winter.1


Police Officer Communist Party Civil Liberty Free Speech Political Violence 
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  1. 49.
    Cf. R. Benewick, ‘The Threshold of Violence’, in R. Benewick (ed.), Direct Action and Democratic Politics (London, 1972) pp. 49–63.Google Scholar
  2. 53.
    CAB 24/264: Home Secretary’s Memorandum to Cabinet, 12 October 1936. Cf. I. Simon, Retrospect (London, 1953) p. 215.Google Scholar
  3. 54.
    J. Barnes and K. Middlemas, Baldwin (London, 1969) p. 931, give the impression that the Prime Minister somewhat reluctantly consented to ban political uniforms, whereas the parliamentary debates suggest that Baldwin regarded the Public Order Bill as an issue of greater importance than did the Home Secretary. There is no reference to the issue in the Baldwin Papers.Google Scholar
  4. 58.
    Ibid.: minutes of meeting, 1 May 1937. Commissioner to DAC 3, 4 May 1937. Cf. T. Jones, A Diary With Letters 1931–1950 (Oxford, 1954) p. 368.Google Scholar

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© Gisela C. Lebzelter 1978

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  • Gisela C. Lebzelter

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