Scottish Protestant League

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Scottish Protestant League
Leader Alexander Ratcliffe
Founder Alexander Ratcliffe
Founded 1920
Dissolved Late 1930s
Newspaper The Vanguard
Ideology Right-wing populism
Religious conservatism
Anti-Irish immigration
Political position Right-wing
Religion Protestantism

The Scottish Protestant League was a political party in Scotland during the 1920s and 1930s.

The League was led by Alexander Ratcliffe, who founded it in 1920.[1] Ratcliffe was elected as a councillor to Glasgow City Council in 1931 for Dennistoun (previously a safe Moderate Party seat) and the League won another seat in Dalmarnock (previously a safe Labour seat) by an ex-communist, Charles Forrester. The third seat it contested failed to unseat the Moderate but it did come second, pushing Labour into third place. In these three seats (which had the highest turn outs in the election) the League gained 12,579 votes (44%).[2] In 1932 the League stood in eleven wards and gained one more seat (Kinning Park) and 12% of the total vote.[3] In 1933 the League stood in twenty-three wards and gained over 71,000 votes (23% of the total vote). Again the League did best in seats with the highest turn outs.[3] In the same year Ratcliffe joined the Scottish Fascist Democratic Party for a brief period.[4] Following a visit to Nazi Germany in 1939 Ratcliffe became a fully fledged convert to fascism.[4]

The main policy of the League was to campaign for the repeal of the Education (Scotland) Act 1918 and specifically Section 18 of that Act which allowed Catholic schools into the state system funded through education rates, which led to the slogan: "No Rome on the Rates!"[2] The League wished to stop Irish immigration to Britain, repatriate Irish immigrants already settled and deport Irish immigrants on welfare.[5] The League also opposed cuts in teacher's pay, campaigned for lower wages for top council workers, and was in favour of building more council housing and for reduced rents and rates.[3]

However from 1934 the League declined. Protestant churches opposed it and internal splits hampered it.[6] The majority, including Ratcliffe, voted with Labour on the council, with two voting with the Moderates. After disagreements with Ratcliffe's control of the League, four councillors left and designated themselves independent Protestants.[7] In 1934 the League only put up seven candidates and none were elected (Ratcliffe lost his seat even though there was no Moderate candidate and the independent Protestants lost their seats also), although they did gain a considerable number of votes.[7] In 1937, Ratcliffe failed to be elected for Camphill. Although there are reports that the League was virtually defunct by the late 1930s[8] its Vanguard newspaper was still running as late as 1939 and reporting that "Hitler and the Pope are a pair...much in common...plotting together with Mussolini, also in the plot, to smash Protestantism throughout Europe".[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ J. J. Smyth, Labour in Glasgow, 1896-1936: Socialism, Suffrage, Sectarianism (Tuckwell, 2000), p. 194.
  2. ^ a b Smyth, p. 195.
  3. ^ a b c Smyth, p. 196.
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ Smyth, pp. 195-6.
  6. ^ Paul Freston, Protestant Political Parties: A Global Survey (Ashgate, 2004), p. 51.
  7. ^ a b Smyth, p. 199.
  8. ^ Freston, p. 51.

Further reading[edit]

  • Steve Bruce, No Pope of Rome!: Militant Protestantism in Modern Scotland (Mainstream, 1989), pp. 42–82.