Archibald Maule Ramsay

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Archibald Maule Ramsay
Archibald Maule Ramsay.png
Born 4 May 1894
Died 11 March 1955
Nationality British
Occupation politician, soldier, writer
Party Unionist

Term 1931 – 1945
Predecessor Joseph Westwood
Successor David Johnstone Pryde

Captain Archibald Henry Maule Ramsay (May 4, 1894 - March 11, 1955) was a British Army officer who later went into politics as a Scottish Unionist Member of Parliament.

From the late 1930s he developed increasingly strident opposition to Jewish supremacism. In 1940 his involvement with a suspected spy at the United States embassy led to his internment under Defence Regulation 18B, the only British MP to suffer this fate. After the war he wrote the book The Nameless War.

Family and early life

Ramsay was from an aristocratic family (he was a descendent of the Earls of Dalhousie). He attended Eton College and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, joining the Coldstream Guards in 1913. On the outbreak of World War I he served in France for two years. He later received a severe head injury before being invalided out and transferred to the War Office in London. Here he met and married on 30 April 1917 Lady Ninian Crichton-Stuart, née Hon. Ismay Preston, daughter of Viscount Gormanston and widow of Lord Ninian Crichton-Stuart MP, who had been killed on active service in the war. His wife was already the mother of three surviving children. The couple went on to have four sons together, the eldest of whom died on active service in 1943.[1]

As the war was coming to an end, Ramsay served at the British War Mission in Paris. He retired from the Army with the rank of Captain in 1920. He spent the 1920s as a company director, living in Kellie Castle near Arbroath, Angus, and became active in the Scottish Unionist Party. In the 1931 general election, Ramsay was elected as MP for Peebles and Southern Midlothian. He was regarded as a likeable and charming man (he was nicknamed 'Jock' among friends), who had a sincere and earnest approach and was an engaging and persuasive public speaker. However, Ramsay was not considered as a potential candidate for high office: the most senior appointment he obtained was as a Government member of the Potato Marketing Board.

Spanish Civil War

After the Spanish Civil War broke out, Ramsay became a strong supporter of the Nationalists under Franco, largely arising out of his opposition to the anti-clericism of the Spanish Republicans and their attacks on the Roman Catholic Church. In the early months of the war he objected in Parliament to what he saw as bias in BBC news reports on Spain, and pointed to links between Spanish Republicans and the Soviet Union. Late in 1937, Ramsay formed the 'United Christian Front' to combat attacks on Christianity 'which emanate from Moscow'. Many distinguished peers and churchmen joined, but the organization was criticized in a letter to The Times by senior religious figures including William Temple (Archbishop of York) and Donald Soper. The objectors said that, while they supported Christian unity, they could not support the United Christian Front as it was mainly concerned with the Spanish Civil War and "adopts a view of it which seems to us ill-founded".

Ramsay became aware of a plan to hold a conference of freethinkers in London in 1938, which was being organized by the International Federation of Freethinkers. Together with his supporters in Parliament, he denounced this as a 'Godless Conference' which was organized by a Moscow-based organization. On 28 June 1938 he asked for permission to introduce as a Private Member's Bill the 'Aliens Restriction (Blasphemy) Bill' (which would have prohibited conference attendees from entering Britain); he won the vote by 165 to 134, but the bill went no further.

Opposition to Jewish influence

Ramsay's opposition to Communism led him to look to other countries for examples. On 13 January 1938 he had given a speech to the Arbroath Business Club in which he argued that Hitler's antipathy to Jews arose from his view "that the real power behind the Third International is a group of revolutionary Jews". Some time later in 1938 he read 'The Rulers of Russia' by Denis Fahey CSSp, which contended that of 59 members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1935, 56 were Jews and the remaining three were married to Jews. At the same time, Ramsay was also becoming more sympathetic to Germany: in September he wrote to The Times to defend the right of the Sudetenland to self-determination.

On 15 November Ramsay was invited to a luncheon party at the German Embassy in London, where he met some noted British sympathisers with National Socialist Germany, including Barry Domvile. In December he introduced another Private Member's Bill called the 'Companies Act (1929) Amendment Bill', which would require shares in news agencies and newspapers to be held openly and not through nominees. In his speech promoting the Bill, Ramsay claimed the press was being manipulated and controlled by 'international financiers' based in New York who wanted to "thrust this country into a war". Ramsay was given permission to introduce his Bill by 151 to 104; again it went no further. In December 1938 The Fascist (journal of the Imperial Fascist League) declared that Ramsay had 'become Jew-wise'.

On 10 January 1939 the Hon. Mrs Ismay Ramsay gave another speech to the Arbroath Business Club, at which she claimed the national press was "largely under Jewish control", that "an international group of Jews .. were behind world revolution in every single country" and that Hitler "must .. have had his reasons for what he did". The speech was reported in the local newspaper and attracted the attention of the Chief Rabbi for Scotland, Dr. Salis Daiches, who wrote to The Scotsman challenging Mrs Ramsay to produce evidence. Ramsay wrote on her behalf citing Father Fahey's booklet, and the resulting correspondence lasted for nearly a month - including a letter from 11 Ministers of the Church of Scotland in the County of Peebles repudiating the views of their MP.

Some members of Ramsay's local Conservative Association in Peebles were not pleased by what they considered negative publicity. However, Ramsay reassured them that he would continue to be a supporter of Neville Chamberlain and the National Government. Ramsay made attempts to make controversial speeches to private meetings rather than in public. On 27 April he spoke to a branch of the patriotic Nordic League in Kilburn, attacking Neville Chamberlain for introducing conscription "at the instigation of the Jews" and claiming that the Conservative Party "relies on .. Jew money".

The Right Club

After the controversy over Mrs Ramsay's January speech died down, Ramsay decided that he needed to make others aware of the argued threat so that they would rid the Conservative Party of Jewish control. To this end he set up 'The Right Club' in May 1939, noting down those who had joined in a red leather-bound and lockable ledger (the 'Red Book'). There were 135 names on the men's list and 100 on a separate ladies' list; the members of the Right Club include a broad spectrum of those known to be anti-Semitic (including William Joyce), those who were in some respects 'fellow travellers' with anti-Semitism, and some friends of Ramsay who may have joined without knowing the actual functions of the Club. At its early meetings, the 5th Duke of Wellington took the chair. The logo of the Right Club, seen on its badge, was of an eagle killing a snake with the initials "P.J." (which stood for 'Perish Judah').

While Ramsay was attempting to launch the Right Club, he spoke at a meeting of the Nordic League at the Wigmore Hall at which a reporter from the Daily Worker was present and reported Ramsay as saying that they needed to end Jewish control, "and if we don't do it constitutionally, we'll do it with steel" (a statement greeted with wild applause). The popular magazine John Bull picked up on the report and challenged Ramsay to contradict it or explain himself. Ramsay's local constituency newspaper, the Peeblesshire Advertiser, made the same challenge and Ramsay responded by admitting he had made the speech, citing the fact that three halls had refused to host the meeting as evidence of Jewish control.

Outbreak of war

On the second day of World War II (4 September 1939), Ramsay sat in the Library of the House of Commons writing a poem which was later to be printed and distributed by the Right Club. It ran:

Land of dope and Jewry
Land that once was free
All the Jew boys praise thee
Whilst they plunder thee
Poorer still and poorer
Grow thy true-born sons
Faster still and faster
They're sent to feed the guns.
Land of Jewish finance
Fooled by Jewish lies
In press and books and movies
While our birthright dies
Longer still and longer
Is the rope they get
But — by the God of battles
'Twill serve to hang them yet.

When the Secretary of State for War Leslie Hore-Belisha (a frequent target of antisemitism) was forced out of office, Ramsay distributed in the House of Commons many copies of Truth (a magazine closely connected to Neville Chamberlain) which argued that Hore-Belisha was no loss to the government. He also put down a motion which cited the regretful reactions of many newspapers to Hore-Belisha's sacking as evidence of Jewish control of the press.

Privately, Ramsay had been invited to some of the 'Secret Meetings' at which right-wing opponents of the war discussed tactics. However, after they grew to be dominated by Oswald Mosley and his supporters, Ramsay withdrew. The Right Club spent the phony war period distributing propaganda in the form of leaflets and 'sticky-backs' (adhesive labels containing slogans), with Ramsay later explaining that he wanted "to maintain the atmosphere in which the 'phoney war', as it was called, might be converted into an honourable negotiated peace." In addition to Ramsay's "Land of dope and Jewry" rhyme, the slogans included "War destroys workers" and "This is a Jews' War"; some of the leaflets asserted "the stark truth is that this war was plotted and engineered by the Jews for world-power and vengeance".

House of Commons

In Parliament, Ramsay attacked the internment procedure of Defence Regulation 18B and opposed the arrest of anti-semitic speaker Richard A. V. 'Jock' Houston under the Public Order Act 1936. On 20 March 1940, he asked a question about a propaganda radio station set up by Germany which gave its precise wavelength, which was suspected by both his allies and opponents as a subtle way of advertising it. On 9 May he asked for an assurance from the Home Secretary "that he refuses to be stampeded .. by a ramp in our Jew-ridden press?" His increasingly open anti-semitism was picked up by Labour and other MPs and referred to in debate.

Internment

One of the last members to join the Right Club was Tyler Kent, a cypher clerk at the American Embassy in London. Ramsay gave Kent the ledger containing the list of Right Club members for safe-keeping. Unfortunately for Ramsay, Kent was stealing top-secret documents from the embassy and had already fallen under suspicion for so doing. On 20 May, Kent's flat was raided and he was arrested; the locked 'Red Book' was forced open. Ramsay's involvement with Kent was extremely concerning to the authorities as Ramsay enjoyed Parliamentary privilege: if Kent had given his stolen documents to Ramsay, it would have been impossible to prevent their publication, which could have seriously damaged the war effort. The Cabinet decided to extend Regulation 18B to give more power to detain people suspected of disloyalty.

Ramsay was arrested and lodged in Brixton prison on an order under Defence Regulation 18B on 23 May 1940. From the start he engaged solicitors (Oswald Hickson, Collier & Co.) through whom he attempted to defend his reputation. When Lord Marley said in the House of Lords that Ramsay was Hitler's chosen Gauleiter for Scotland in the event of an invasion, Oswald Hickson, Collier immediately sent off a letter of complaint.

As an 18B detainee, Ramsay's only legal method of challenging his detention was to appeal to the Advisory Committee under Norman Birkett which recommended continued detention. However, as a Member of Parliament, some of Ramsay's colleagues argued that his detention was a breach of parliamentary privilege. The detention was referred to the Committee of Privileges, but on 9 October it reported that detention was not a breach of privilege.

Libel trial

The New York Times published an article on "Britain's Fifth Column" in July 1940 which claimed "informed American sources said that he had sent to the German Legation in Dublin treasonable information given to him by Tyler Kent". Ramsay sued for libel, resulting in a trial in July 1941 in which he asserted his loyalty to Britain. However some of Ramsay's answers did him extreme damage, for example when he was asked if he wanted Nazism to be defeated, and replied, substituting 'Germany' for 'Nazism': "Not only Germany, but also the Judaic menace". In summing-up the Judge said he was convinced Hitler would call Ramsay 'friend' and that Ramsay was disloyal in heart and soul to his King, his Government, and the people.

However, The New York Times could not defend its story, having found no evidence that Ramsay had communicated anything to the German Legation in Dublin, and it was found guilty. The Judge awarded a farthing in damages, the customary award for a libel plaintiff adjudged to have brought it on themselves; as The New York Times had already paid £75 into court, Ramsay became liable for both prosecution and defence costs. Another consequence of the trial was that Ramsay's local Conservative Association disowned him completely. They recruited David Robertson, the MP for Streatham who was from Scotland, to represent the constituency; however Robertson found it too expensive to do so and soon gave it up.

Subsequent political activity

Ramsay continued occasionally to put down written Parliamentary questions from jail, sometimes taking up the cases of fellow 18Bs. His eldest son Alec, serving in the Scots Guards, died of pneumonia on active service in South Africa in August 1943. Ramsay was finally released from detention on 26 September 1944, being one of the last few 18B detainees. He immediately returned to Westminster to resume his seat in the House of Commons, causing at least one member to storm out of the chamber. His only significant action in the remainder of the Parliament was a motion calling for the reinstatement of the 1275 Statute of Jewry passed under King Edward I. He did not defend his seat in the 1945 general election.

In 1952 Ramsay wrote The Nameless War, as an autobiography and a plea to justify his actions. He attended some far right political meetings but did not attract attention. He died in 1955.

References

  1. Darryl Lundy. "Hon Ismay Lucretia Preston" The Peerage.com database. Retrieved 4 May 2008. The third son, George, was father of several children, among whom the eldest daughter, Catherine, is mother of the present Sir Andrew Peter Monro Walker-Okeover, 7th Bt (b. 1987)

See also

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References

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.