Ramsay studied at Stirling University but left after a term and moved to London where he attempted to find work as a jazz musician. He later returned to Scotland where he “organized Edinburgh’s first rock concert in the park, helped set up an arts lab, worked with Lindsay Kemp’s Mime Troupe, and played jazz in the Free Association Quartet.”
Ramsay eventually took a degree at Hull University. It was while he was Hull that he became interested in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. While investigating the case Ramsay met fellow Kennedy assassination enthusiast Stephen Dorrell and they decided to start publishing a magazine which explored all the topics which fascinated them. Lobster Magazine made its first appearance in September 1983 as a 24-page A5 magazine.
Since 1983 the magazine has featured articles on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Edward Jay Epstein, anti Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament groups, the Vietnam War, Lord Mountbatten and the Central Intelligence Agency, Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico, KGB, Airey Neave, the plot to smear Harold Wilson, Winston Churchill and Pearl Harbor, MI5 and the rise of Margaret Thatcher, Peter Wright, Watergate, Peter Dale Scott, Archibald Ramsay and the Right Club, Clay Shaw and Appeasement.
He is also the co-author of Smear! Wilson and the Secret State! (1991). Other books by Robin Ramsay include Conspiracy Theories: Almost Everything You Need to Know in One Essential Guide (2000), Who Shot JFK? (2002), The Rise of New Labour (2002) and Politics and Paranoia (2008).
Even Eisenhower could feel the winds rising. War hero, war leader, soldier and Republican, Dwight Eisenhower had used a televised farewell address to the American people not to say, "I'm off to play golf and God bless America," but to warn them of the dangers presented by the American "military-industrial complex" - the Pentagon and its vast hinterland of arms manufacturers and the intelligence services.
Into this context arrived Kennedy, who talked the conventional Cold War-Soviet menace talk when he had to before the election, but who, after the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, went off the rails as far as the military-industrial complex was concerned. He did a deal with Kruschev and promised to leave Cuba alone; he began trying to wind down the ClA's army of anti-Castro Cubans; he signed the Test Ban Treaty; he was preparing to allow the Italian Communist Party into a coalition government; he was planning to cut US defence spending abroad to reduce the US balance of payments deficit; and wanted to begin pulling the US out of Vietnam. These are not the actions of a Cold Warrior. The Cuban Missile Crisis had scared the politicians involved in it.
In a sense the debate about who Kennedy was is easily solved: there were two Kennedys. The Cold Warrior Kennedy who got elected changed - or dropped his conservative cover - after the Cuban missile crisis and became a liberal Democrat.
Perhaps most significant of all, Kennedy wanted out of the then rapidly expanding war in Vietnam. The military-industrial-intelligence complex and the political right saw retreat in the Caribbean followed by the prospect of retreat in the Far East. The military-industrial complex wanted the Vietnam war as part of what they saw as the ongoing Cold War struggle with communism: it was just a bonus that, in pursuing the war, they stood to make a lot of money and have good careers. Whether or not we try to locate the assassination conspiracy in this milieu, and many of the researchers do, Kennedy was going up against the military-industrial complex on almost all fronts - the forces his predecessor had warned against. When the scale of what Kennedy was thinking of doing is understood it is very tempting to see it as Kennedy stepping too far out of line and the system getting rid of him.
The official, government version of the assassination was that lone assassin, oddball, ex-Marine, self-proclaimed Marxist and defector to the Soviet Union - and how weird was that in 1963? - Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy from his place of employment, the Texas Book Depository, which overlooked the route of the parade Kennedy took through Dallas that day. He did it for reasons unknown, but probably down to personal inadequacies and jealously of the charismatic young president. According to the official version, having shot Kennedy, he left his clapped-out, dirt-cheap, bargain-bin, piece-of-shit, surplus rifle with inaccurate sights, ran down to the canteen in the warehouse and got a Coke from the machine in time to be sitting there to be confronted by a Dallas policeman investigating the shooting. Identified as an employee of the building, Oswald wandered out and caught a bus, went home, shot a Dallas policeman and sneaked into the movies without paying. Oswald was then arrested by the Dallas police and shot the next day, in the police station, by Jack Ruby, the owner of a strip club in Dallas. Incoming President Johnson set up a commission of inquiry, chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren and stuffed with the great and the good - including Alien Dulles, erstwhile Director of the CIA. The Warren Commission, as it became known, published a report after its inquiry stating that
Oswald had done it alone.
The Commission's verdict was a lie, a deception, baloney - and insulting baloney at that. They didn't even do a good job on the deception. The politicians, the military and the intelligence services had been getting away with so much since 1945, had the major media so totally co-opted into the Cold War crusade against the Soviet Union, they didn't think it would matter that the Commission's report was nonsense: they thought the schmucks would buy whatever was served up to them.
Shaw was a director of the World Trade Centre in New Orleans and was brought into a similar project in Italy involving a company called Permindex (Permanent Industrial Exhibitions), which proposed to create a network of World Trade Centres: propagandising for American business. Around these bare facts was created a story in which all these companies were CIA fronts for covert operations and assassinations. Permindex had been involved in trying to assassinate General de Gaulle and then had killed JFK. This story was planted on a Soviet-sympathising Italian newspaper; was then picked up by a left-wing magazine in New York and a magazine in Canada; and thence made its way to the Garrison investigation. And Garrison believed it without checking it. His 1988 book. On The Trail Of The Assassins, carries a couple of pages on Permindex in which he quotes only the Canadian and Italian versions of the story. Parts of this Permindex story - itself disinformation - were then picked up and used to form the centrepiece of the most famous and most durable piece of disinformation generated by the case, the Nomenclature Of An Assassination Cabal by 'William Torbitt,' better known as the Torbitt Memorandum. 'Torbitt' took Garrison's inquiry into the ClA's links to the assassination and converted them into a story about the FBI's responsibility for the assassination. (This, in my view, tells us that the author/s of Torbitt were working for the CIA, trying to diminish the 'Garrison effect.') At the beginning of the first chapter 'Torbitt' tells us that the assassination was the work of the FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency, who jointly ran 'the Control Group.' These two agencies ran another really secret agency, the Defense Industrial Security Command (DISC). Clay Shaw, David Ferrie et al., previously identified as CIA, were in fact DISC. Because it was 'underground' and - because it was full of interesting and authentic-sounding bits and pieces, Torbitt was 'sexy.' However, as soon as I began trying to check the few citations in it, they proved to be useless: either they didn't exist, were impossible to get or, when tracked down, didn't say what Torbitt' said they did. But Torbitt lives on. Like all good conspiracy theories, it is immune to refutation.
Who whacked JFK? What happened to Dodi and Di in Paris? Did Blair and Campbell tell us all porkies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and how many American troops are based overseas in foreign states?
If these questions give you sleepless nights, speak to Robin Ramsay, editor, publisher and chief writer behind Lobster, the world’s most authoritative conspiracy theory magazine. You probably won’t have heard of it – Lobster only surfaces twice a year and it’s not available in WH Smith’s next to Loaded or Maxim. It doesn’t carry advertising or pictures, and it’s kept afloat by a small but dedicated band of subscribers.
Movie director, subscriber and occasional Lobster contributor, Alex Cox, is a big fan of Ramsay: “Robin is the only journalist writing and publishing articles about the deeply dodgy Atlantic Alliance. The reason we are in such a mess today – the reason we went to war for American oil companies – is this alliance, and Robin is the lone investigator digging at the roots of it. His work, published in Lobster, will, in later years, be regarded as of vital importance in understanding these things.”
Quite an endorsement, and Lobster’s certainly a conspiracy theory magazine with a difference. While other publications might try to kid you that the Windsors are a race of super-intelligent space lizards (if only they were that interesting), or that Hitler ended up running ice-cream parlours in Buenos Aires, the Lobster credo is facts, figures and verification. Every unpalatable truth featured in the mag is backed up with references, so if you think Lobster’s leading you up the garden path, you can examine the original sources and draw your own conclusions. It’s this standard of authentication that differentiates Lobster from the competition and explains why it’s still going strong 20 years after it first saw the light of day in a Hull back bedroom.
So what sort of terrain does the armour-plated crustacean cover? Recent issues have examined the impact of naval sonar devices on whales (it kills them), an alternative take on Watergate (it all started with hookers), election-rigging in the UK (remarkably easy to do), an analysis of al-Qaeda’s PR campaign (amazingly effective), and possible CIA involvement in attempts to sink a boatload of buses in the Thames in 1964. It’s an eclectic brew which reflects its editor’s passions and interests, so if you want to know more about Lobster, you need to understand Ramsay. It’s a life story which takes us into an almost vanished world of bohemian beatniks, free jazz freak-outs and spontaneous art happenings. There’s even a small but hugely influential role for the poet laureate of suburban despair, Philip Larkin.