Thomas Shelby has had political aspirations for quite some time now. Since he started working with Winston Churchill, he has realized the power and respect a politician can get and has since tried to climb up the ladder. All while trying to build a business of opium and liquor under Shelby Company.
While politics has been quite innate to the show, it has leaned more towards it since season 5 and continues to do so in season 6. With characters such as Mosley, Jack Nelson, and Laura McKee, the conversation about socialism, nationalism, and fascism has been woven quite intricately with the storyline.
Season 6 Episode 2, shows Tommy discussing business and political stances with all these characters. To us, it might get a little overwhelming or confusing to follow. So, if you faced this too, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s some pretext before I start explaining it all. I’ll briefly explain the concepts of fascism and socialism in the context of Peaky Blinders. After this, I’ll tell you which characters lean towards which side and where does Thomas Shelby stand. Let’s jump in.
Thomas Shelby is publicly a bridge between fascism and socialism while being a solid socialist at his core. He takes a neutral stance to garner support from both socialists and fascists until he can take down the latter and escape from all this.
In simple terms, fascism is an ideology in which a nation or a race is given the most importance. It usually involves having a dictatorship-led government that follows the suppression of free speech or opposing voices and essentially having control over how the society and the economy are run.
If you notice, people such as Oswald Mosley and Jack Nelson are fascists at their core. They both do not like Jews and believe their own kind is above the Jewish race. Mosley also believes in running the government with rules that only he thinks are true and aspires to become the sole fascist leader of Britain.
On the other hand, Jack Nelson isn’t far from Mosley when it comes to hating Jews. Even Jack wants Mosley to become the leader and partner with him for the smooth functioning of his business.
Socialism is an ideology where the country’s production shouldn’t be controlled by one party, including the government. It should be controlled by all the people from various sections of society.
People such as Thomas Shelby and Laura McKee are strong socialists, and as Thomas claims, Aunt Polly would’ve been one, too. A simple example is Thomas’ speech in Episode 2.
He tells the crowd how the government wants people to produce bread and do all the hard work but doesn’t want to give them their fair share. This one example depicts how Thomas wants the working-class people to get their due in terms of money and respect.
Before I answer this question, let me give a quick recap of his interactions in the episode. With that, you’d be able to answer the question yourself.
Thomas gives a speech in front of the working class crowd as a socialist. He then interacts with Laura McKee (from the IRA) and asks her to show support to Oswald Mosley and his fascist rally because Jack Nelson is a fascist himself, so he’d side with him.
Jack controls the American market, and Thomas will need Jack to supply his opium there. Considering both IRA and Thomas Shelby need this business, he asks Laura to side with Mosley.
Thomas also tells how both socialists and fascists have the same goals, and they just have different means of reaching them. So, he wants to be at the center of it all. At Mosley’s gathering, Thomas explains to the reporter how he’s a bridge between the two ideologies.
After this, he persuades Mosley to meet with Jack Nelson and later persuades Jack Nelson to take his deal. Beyond all this, he speaks with Alfie Solomons, a Jew, and tells how he can wipe out these fascists.
So if you see, Thomas, in the end, is going around making deals with everyone in a way that he reaches his goal. Now, we know his goal is to wipe out all his adversaries and make an exit from this world of politics, power, and money.
Thomas also tells Ada that he plans on doing some good on his way out. This means that he surely wouldn’t support the fascists, and there’s a good chance he wouldn’t support the IRA either. Instead, he’d do something for the working class while making himself filthy rich and escaping.
Now, if you go back to the initial question, you’ll have your answer. Thomas Shelby is a solid socialist but also a selfish person trying to look out for his family and get them out of this mess once and for all. Whether he’s able to or not is something we’ll have to wait to find out.
About Peaky Blinders
Peaky Blinders is a British period crime drama television series created by Steven Knight. Set in Birmingham, England, the series follows the exploits of the Shelby crime family and their leader Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) in the direct aftermath of the First World War.
The fictional family is loosely based on a real urban youth gang of the same name, active in the city from the 1890s to the early 20th century. It stars Cillian Murphy, Sam Claflin, Aidan Gillen, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Finn Cole, and Tom Hardy
Peaky Blinders season 6, which is also its last, will premiere on February 27 on BBC One.