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The Dowager Lady Birdwood
Born 18 May 1913(1913-05-18)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Died 28 June 2000 (aged 87)
England
Occupation Politician, activist, publisher
Spouse(s) Lord Birdwood

Jane Birdwood, Baroness Birdwood (18 May 1913 - 28 June 2000) was the wife of Lord Birdwood and a leading figure on the far right in the United Kingdom who took part in a number of movements.

Contents

Early life

She was born Joan Pollock Graham in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, after which she changed her name to Jane in order to avoid confusion with a popular radio actress of the time. She later became the second wife of Lieutenant Colonel The Hon. Christopher Birdwood (the son of Field Marshal William Birdwood, 1st Baron Birdwood) and thus became Lady Birdwood in 1954 on the death of her husband's father.[1]

Political Activities

Initially serving only as a worker for her husband's passion, international aid, she expanded her political involvement after becoming a widow in 1962. She was a member of the League for European Freedom, an anti-communist group that sought to aid refugees from Eastern Europe. Her activities also brought her into contact with such groups as the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations and individuals such as Yaroslav Stetsko.[1]

Around the same time, she allied herself with campaigns to support public decency, and was briefly associated with Mary Whitehouse. In this role, she attempted to launch a number of prosecutions against productions and writers that offended her sense of taste, including the producers of controversial theatrical revue Oh! Calcutta! and actor John Bird, the author of the play Council of Love.[1]

Birdwood became involved in campaigns against trade unions, setting up the Citizens Mutual Protection Society in the early 1970s, which launched a failed attempt to run a private postal service. She took a leading role in several far right pressure groups, including the Immigration Control Association, Common Cause, the British League of Rights (of which she was General Secretary) and Self Help, the latter attempting, unsuccessfully, to charge Arthur Scargill with treason.[2]

Birdwood flirted with a number of political parties during her life, including briefly leading her own, British Solidarity. A member of the Conservative Party, she was active in Geoffrey Stewart-Smith's Foreign Affairs Circle, but left the Tories along with a number of followers of George Kennedy Young in the mid-1970s.[1] Following her departure, she was associated with the British National Front for a short spell. She also worked with Ross McWhirter at this time on his right-wing magazine Majority, and became a vocal critic of the Provisional Irish Republican Army after his murder. She also devoted much time to the World Anti-Communist League.[1] One of her major failed efforts had her calling for the UK to enforce the Edict of Expulsion against English Jews in 1290, saying that the Edict had never been revoked, but ignoring the fact that the British government overturned the edict starting with the rule of Oliver Cromwell.

She stood in the 1983 by-election in Bermondsey as an independent candidate, winning 69 votes, and attacked her opponents by labelling the Tory candidate a "multiracialist" and the NF candidate a "socialist".[1] She was equally unsuccessful when she stood as a British National Party candidate in the 1992 general election in Dewsbury. Through much of her later life, she published the journal Choice, which presented a right wing stance but was generally independent of any political party.[3]

Later activities

In 1994, the 80 year old Jane Birdwood was arrested and prosecuted in a criminal court in London, England, for violating the Public Order Act of 1986 by publishing her pamphlet, The Longest Hatred. She was sentenced to 3 months in prison, suspended.

Birdwood continued to lead ritish Solidarity as a pressure group, publish Choice and run a publishing venture, Inter City Researchers, until late 1999 when she was forced to stand down for health reasons. After her retirement most of these concerns passed into the hands of her associates, the former National Front co-leader Martin Webster and Peter Marriner, also a former British Movement activist.[1]

Elections contested

Date of election Constituency Party Votes  %
24 February 1983 Bermondsey 'Independent Patriot' 69 0.2
10 April 1986 Fulham England Demands Repatriation 226 0.6
1992 Dewsbury British National Party 660 1.1

References

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