The British Union of Fascists was founded by Sir Oswald Mosley (1896-1980) in 1932, and attracted considerable support until it was banned by the British government in May 1940. The cartoonist David Low (1891-1963), recognising the threat fascism posed to civil liberties in Britain, drew this cartoon which was published in the Evening Standard in May 1934. Anticipating the Pageant of Runnymede, which was to take place the following month, Low drew a cast of historical characters who had helped to secure the nation’s liberty. They included King John with Magna Carta, Sir Edward Coke with the Petition of Right and Lord Russell with the Reform Bill. A figure, probably representing Mosley, making a fascist salute and standing alongside his ‘Magnissima Charta’, is contrasted with this rich history of liberty. Low’s antipathy to fascism became known to the Gestapo, who named him on a list of people to be arrested should the Germans ever invade England.
- Article by:
- Alex Lock
Throughout the 20th century, Magna Carta inspired figures across the political spectrum, from suffragists and fascists to those drafting human rights legislation. Dr Alexander Lock explores the charter’s relationship to the Second World War, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and modern America.