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How important were the actions of the National Government in preventing extremists getting mass support in Britain in the 1930s?

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Introduction

Matthew Organ How important were the actions of the National Government in preventing extremists getting mass support? (24) There were many reasons why extremists failed to gain mass support, of varying degrees of importance. This answer will include National Government policies and unemployment, the weaknesses of the Extremist parties and the association of extremists with violence. It will be argued that the fall in unemployment was the most important factor, and that the National Government's actions were partly responsible for it. National Government policies did play an important part directly and indirectly in limiting the threat from political extremism. Legislation was passed to curb the activities of both the communists and fascists. ...read more.

Middle

The policies of the National Government in aiding economic recovery were a factor. National Government policies such as low interest rates, Imperial Protection and by the late 1930s rearmament did help reduce unemployment. It may well be argued that the fall in unemployment was a key factor by drying up the likely recruiting grounds for extremism. Total unemployment was halved 1933-38. Equally, it may be argued that most National Government policies were not that effective and that some policies in the 1931-34 period such as cuts in wages and the means test may well have kept unemployment high by reducing demand. Nevertheless, though the national level of unemployment fell, regional unemployment especially in the old industrial areas remained high throughout the decade. ...read more.

Conclusion

Importantly, unlike Italy or Germany there was no sense of national humiliation after the Great War in Britain, traditional institutions such as the Monarchy continued to provide a focus for national loyalty, the empire maintained the image of Britain as a World Power and the British parliamentary system was deep-rooted. A final point would be that the street violence associated with both the Fascists and Communists for example at Olympia and Cable Street frightened off many potential supporters. Also, in the late 30s, the outbreak of war in Europe rapidly drove support away from the BUF, and Mosley himself was incarcerated in case he helped the Nazis. In conclusion, the most important factor was the fall in unemployment, as extremist parties emerged as a direct response to the depression and the unemployment that came with it, and shrank as unemployment did. ...read more.

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