Robert Forgan (10 March 1891 – 8 January 1976[1]) was a British politician who was a close associate of Oswald Mosley.

Robert Forgan

Member of Parliament
for West Renfrewshire
In office
Preceded byArchibald Douglas MacInnes Shaw
Succeeded byHenry Scrymgeour-Wedderburn
Personal details
Born(1891-03-10)10 March 1891
Died8 January 1976(1976-01-08) (aged 84)
Political partyIndependent Labour Party, New Party, British Union of Fascists
Alma materUniversity of Aberdeen, University of Cambridge
OccupationPublic Health Officer

Early life and medical careerEdit

The Scottish-born Forgan was the son of a Church of Scotland minister.[2] Educated up to doctorate level at Aberdeen Grammar School, and the Universities of Aberdeen and Cambridge, he entered the medical profession and served in this capacity in World War I.[3] Dr. Forgan became a leading light in his field, serving as Vice-President of the Medical Society for the Study of Venereal Diseases and became recognised as a leading expert on Sexually transmitted diseases.[2] He served as a Public Health Officer in Glasgow and in this capacity he adopted socialism due to the poor conditions in the city.[2]

Political careerEdit

ILP and New PartyEdit

Forgan entered local politics as a member of Glasgow council after seeing active service in the war.[3] Initially a member of the Independent Labour Party, he was elected to Parliament for West Renfrewshire in the 1929 general election. An early triumph saw him secure the installation of a ventilation system into the House of Commons, although after this he became a fairly marginal figure.[4] Forgan was one of the signatories of the 'Mosley Memorandum' which outlined his political vision and he followed Mosley into the New Party when it was set up soon afterwards.[5] He had officially left the Labour Party on 24 February 1931[6] and, sometime that year, co-authored with Adam Marshall Diston The New Party and the ILP (written as an appeal to ILP members[7]).[8] He was appointed to a council for policy and strategy formation that was set up to decide the running of the party and also acted as Chief Whip during the New Party's brief run in Parliament.[9] At the 1931 general election, Forgan polled 1,304 votes in West Renfrewshire in what represented one of the better results for the New Party in a disappointing election.[10] A close friend of Oswald Mosley, Forgan was godfather to his son Michael.[11]

British Union of FascistsEdit

With Mosley having embraced fascism Forgan followed his lead and on Mosley's behalf led unsuccessful talks with the British Fascists, aimed at having that movement taken over by the New Party.[12] Forgan joined Mosley's British Union of Fascists and was initially Director of Organisation.[4] This administrative role did not prove suitable and soon he became an important background figure, arranging private functions with leading businessmen in an attempt to secure support for Mosley and organising the January Club to this end.[13] Forgan was keen to stress that the BUF had no ban on Jews despite the activities of Adolf Hitler.[14] Indeed, Forgan attempted to court influential Jews, such as Liberal MP Harry Nathan and Sir Philip Magnus-Allcroft, 2nd Baronet, through the January Club and even held meetings with the leaders of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.[15] Forgan was also keen to keep the BUF aloof from rival far right groups such as the Imperial Fascist League as he felt it was essential to avoid making the BUF seem too foreign in ideological terms.[16]

As a result of his work, Forgan was promoted to deputy leader.[4] He held that position until 1934 when he left the BUF because of its drift towards anti-Semitism.[4] Robert Skidelsky has argued that Forgan's conversion to fascism had always been at best half-hearted and had more to do with his personal loyalty to Mosley, something that was largely gone by that point.[17] Forgan in particular disliked the growing influence of William Joyce, a staunch anti-Semite,[18] who replaced Wilfred Risdon, a colleague of Forgan's from the ILP and the New Party, as Director of Propaganda the same year. He took no further role in politics.


  • R. Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, London: Allan Lane, 1969,
  • S. Dorril, Blackshirt – Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism, London: Penguin, 2007
  • R. Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, Oxford University Press, 1983
  • M. Pugh, Hurrah for the Blackshirts: Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the Wars, Pimlico, 2006
  • R. Skidelsky, Oswald Mosley, Macmillan, 1981


  1. ^ Renfrewshire West MPs
  2. ^ a b c Dorril, p. 151
  3. ^ a b Benewick, p. 112
  4. ^ a b c d Benewick, p. 113
  5. ^ Benewick, p. 66
  6. ^ Skidelsky, p. 243
  7. ^ N. Copsey, 'Opposition to the new party: an incipient anti-fascism or a defence against 'Mosleyitis'?' (2009) in Contemporary British History 23 (4)
  8. ^ Robert Benewick, Political Violence & Public Order: A Study of British Fascism (Allen Lane, 1969)
  9. ^ Benweick, p. 76
  10. ^ Benewick, p. 81
  11. ^ Dorril, p. 204
  12. ^ Griffiths, p. 36
  13. ^ Benewick, p. 94
  14. ^ Benewick, p. 153
  15. ^ Dorril, p. 310
  16. ^ Pugh, p. 130
  17. ^ Skidelsky, p. 342
  18. ^ Pugh, p. 221

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Douglas MacInnes Shaw
Member of Parliament for West Renfrewshire
Succeeded by
Henry Scrymgeour-Wedderburn