The Protestant Vanguard was established in Glasgow by Alexander Ratcliffe (1888-1947) in 1931 to act as the organ for his political party the Scottish Protestant League (SPL). The SPL was founded in Edinburgh by Ratcliffe on 28 September 1920 as part of the militant Protestant movement that emerged during the Anglo-Irish war of 1919-1921.
Virulently anti-Catholic, the SPL campaigned against the public funding of Catholic schools, and for the prevention of Irish immigration into Britain. In 1930 Ratcliffe moved to Glasgow, and it was there that the SPL saw its greatest successes. In 1931 he was elected as a councillor to the Glasgow Corporation, and in 1933 the party gained 44% of the vote across 23 wards.
A sense of the Protestant Vanguard’s militant Protestantism can be gained through this editorial, which was published in its pages on 2 January 1935: ‘A Call to Arms! Protestantism in Scotland is on its trial, and we proclaim a Call to Arms on behalf of the cause of Scriptural Protestantism and righteousness. The enemy is at the Gate! Who will respond to the call for recruits? The warfare is spiritual, but none the less necessary. The enemies of the Bible, the despisers of Christianity, the idolaters and corruptionists are gathering their forces together in the land of Knox for a massed attack against the Protestantism of the nation.’
However, the popularity of the SPL declined from 1934 onwards, Ratcliffe losing his seat in 1937. Publication of the Protestant Vanguard continued, with it shifting between being a monthly, fortnightly and weekly publication.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s the rhetoric expressed within the pages of the Protestant Vanguard became aligned with Ratcliffe’s increasingly fascist and racist beliefs. Despite Ratcliffe facing censure in British parliament during the Second World War, publication of his newspaper continued until his death in 1947.
Due to the inflammatory and incendiary nature of some of the content of this publication, readers are advised to exercise caution in accessing this material as they may find it offensive and upsetting.
For this newspaper, we have the following titles in, or planned for, our digital archive:
- 1931–33 The Protestant Vanguard.
- 1931–44 The Vanguard.
- 1944–46 The Protestant Vanguard.
- 1947–47 The Vanguard.
This newspaper is published by an unknown publisher in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland. It was digitised and first made available on the British Newspaper Archive in Oct 24, 2023 . The latest issues were added in Nov 22, 2023 16 days ago.