In 1929, Oswald Mosley joined Ramsay Macdonald’s Labour government with responsibility for tackling unemployment. In the “Mosley Memorandum” he proposed high tariffs to protect British industries from international finance; the nationalisation of major industries; and a programme of public works to provide employment. The memorandum was rejected by the Cabinet and in May 1930 Mosley resigned. On 6th November 1930, Harold Nicolson writes in his diary:
“Lunch with the Mosleys. Tom [as Mosley was known to family and close friends] talks afterwards about the future. He is evidently thinking of leading some new party of younger Nationalists. He is not certain what to do or when to do it. If he strikes now he may be premature. If he delays he may be too late. ‘If,’ he says, ‘I could have £250,000 and a press I should sweep the country.’ By the press he means Beaverbrook [proprietor of the Daily Express, the highest-selling paper of the period]. I warn him against the impulsive character of Lord B.”
Mosley launched the New Party in February 1931. In April, Nicolson accompanies him to a public meeting of 7,000 people before a by-election at the Labour seat of Ashton-under-Lyne:
“He launches on an emotional oration on the lines that England is not yet dead and that it is for the New Party to save her. He is certainly an impassioned revivalist speaker, striding up and down the rather frail platform with great panther steps and gesticulating… with the result that there was real enthusiasm toward the end and one had the feeling that 90 per cent of the audience were certainly convinced at the moment.” The New Party took 16 per cent of the vote, splitting Labour support, and the Conservatives took the seat.
In May, Nicolson writes in his diary:
“Go and see Tom Mosley at his office. Have a long talk. He is finding some difficulty in restraining the more active members of the party. He tells me that the main response which we are getting, and which is very encouraging, comes from the younger Conservative…