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When British Union Cared For Animals

MaryAllenwithOM.jpg
(left to right) Jeffrey Hamm, Mary Allen, Raven Thomson, Victor Burgess with Oswald Mosley

Little known is the involvement of many in the Mosley movement who took part in the anti-vivisection campaign. A sincere concern for the condition of animals in Britain was very much at the heart of this campaign and British fascists in the 1930s and beyond deserve this recognition, hitherto neglected.

The names of these British fascists read like a roll-call of the Blackshirt cause. Prominent  among them was Commandant Mary Allen who held a long-term membership of the Council of the London and Provincial Anti-Vivisection Society.  Mary Allen was known mostly for her part in the creation of a women’s police force in Britain and then to champion the cause of women police officers, campaigning for their greater role in police work. Their virtual equality with male police officers today is a direct result of the earlier efforts of this great woman.  It is said that the reason for her secret membership of Mosley’s British Union of Fascists was to avoid jeopardising her pioneering work on behalf of women police officers. After the war, she emerged as a founding member of Union Movement (see left, with Oswald Mosley) after a brief internment under Defence Regulation 18B and then house arrest.

As a member of the Council of the London and Provincial Anti-Vivisection Society (LPAVS), Mary understood perfectly that experiments on animals were not just cruel but pointless because the results of these experiments were both unreliable and often detrimental to the humans that were supposed to benefit from them.

The breeding of certain species purely for the purpose of inflicting terrible pain in vivisection was something that shocked Mary Allen and her enthusiasm for the anti-vivisection cause was no less than her support for Sir Oswald Mosley and his fight for a greater and better Britain.

Many other women supporters of British Union were deeply involved in animal rights. Mrs Dudley Ward was not only a British Union supporter but also a member of the influential January Club which held dinners designed to bring the more affluent and powerful in British society into the fascist fold. She was also well-known as a long-standing mistress of Edward VIII but, most importantly, she was a prominent member of the Animal Defence Society along with active membership of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Another example of human decency and a regard for species other than our own.

European Action opposes all exploitation of animals that involves cruelty. All animals are at the mercy of humans one way or another and it is our duty to respect and protect other species. Whether domestic or in the wild, we must accord the same respect to animals as we should accord our fellow men and women. We say this because we recognise that all life is God-given and very precious with the entire natural world intrinsically linked to the great order of things. Anyone with a healthy awareness of and regard for our environment will recognise this.

For this reason we oppose all blood sports. Animals have suffered horrific cruelty over the ages in order to amuse the lowest instincts of mankind. Ironically, it evolved into the sport of “noblemen”, who bred selected species in order that these creatures could be chased terrified and then either ripped apart or suffer the agony of an arrow or spear. The gun came later. All the paraphernalia of human warfare has been directed against the innocent and defenceless species of the natural world. It should end now.

We oppose vivisection and experimentation on animals because we regard such an activity as cruel and unnecessary. Indeed, as so much laboratory torture on animals is related to the medical condition of humans we consider this as inappropriate. Why not give our vilest fellow humans, those convicted for terrible murders or those who have violated and abused children, an opportunity to redeem themselves rather than have liberal busybodies invent “rights” for them and allow them to re-offend again and again?  Rather, we should recognise the rights of innocent animals. Monstrous criminals could redeem themselves by volunteering for laboratory research, thereby serving the future health and welfare of the young and old, those most vulnerable and disadvantaged ... those groups they had previously preyed upon, harmed and violated. Let them replace the guinea pigs and white rats, the beagles and the rhesus monkeys.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recognises that animals, being sentient, have very similar emotions and feelings to those of our own species. This is self-evident to those who are close to animals on a daily basis.

British fascism attracted many more whose empathy for the animal world  moved them to take an active role in both animal welfare and the political campaign of British Union.

Another animal rights campaigner and supporter of the British Union of Fascists was Dr Margaret Vivien who was organiser of the Bournemouth Branch of the British Union Against Vivisection and who spoke regularly on behalf of the BUAV. Her appeal for funds could be read in the columns of ACTION, funds in order to support her animal sanctuary created around her own home in Bournemouth.

Another woman of extraordinary energy and fortitude was Norah Elam, Women’s County Organiser for West Sussex British Union of Fascists, previously a militant suffragette imprisoned for her activities. Her husband, Dudley Elam, was BUF Regional Inspector for Surrey. She was motivated entirely by a concern for the “underdog” (no pun intended) and her concern for the down-trodden working man became as important to her as that for animal welfare. She hated the practice of vivisection and, in the late 1930s, she became a founder member of the British Union Against Vivisection with headquarters in Whitehall.

After the outbreak of war in 1939, Norah Elam was detained under Regulation 18B and, curiously, the HQ of the BUAV was raided by the Special Branch because they were convinced it was a front for the BUF, largely because the names of both organisations began with “British Union”. The BUAV survived and continues its admirable work to the present day.

Mention should be made of Sir George Drummond, a major donor to the BUAV as well as a NHQ member of the British Union of Fascists. He was active as a speaker for the BUAV and wrote articles for its journal ‘The Abolitionist’. Chairman of Drummonds Bank, High Sheriff of Northamptonshire, President of the Northampton branch of the Link, host to Joachim von Ribbentrop at his country home at Pitsford Hall, he used his influence in trying to avoid another world war. In 1940, he went into voluntary exile on the Isle of Man for the duration of that unnecessary war.

The ex-miner, Bill Risdon, was with Mosley from New Party days and was a founder member of the BUF, being the first Director of Propaganda. Along with Norah Elam, he was to take on a full-time role as a canvasser for the London and Provincial Anti-Vivisection Society (LPAVS) which was later affiliated to the BUAV.

A true love for animals was something also shared by the Leader, Oswald Mosley. In her book, ‘Loved Ones’, Lady Mosley recalls that OM’s great love was a ginger cat, Goldie. When it died, OM, the cook and Lady Mosley sat in the kitchen and cried. After one of the swans had died after many years of following OM and eating bread off a table and sometimes coming indoors, OM said, “Never again”. He missed the sound of the rush of water as the swan swam to meet him.

Robert Edwards, European Action No 10    

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