Aaron Ernest Gompertz and the rise of the South Shields Labour Party
It is often assumed that the rise of the Labour Party in the early to mid-20th century to become one of Britain’s two main political parties was assured. It was not. At the turn of the century most working-class men voted for the Liberal Party, and a majority of local and national Trades Union leaders were staunch Liberals.
This book tells the remarkable story of the campaign in one area, South Shields on Tyneside, to establish a successful Labour Party; and the key role of one man, Aaron Ernest Gompertz, in that struggle. Orator, organiser and Parliamentary Agent to the town’s first Labour MP, James Chuter Ede, in eight general elections – Gompertz devoted his life to establishing an electorally powerful Labour Party in South Shields and saw its rise in the post-war period to become the dominant force in local politics.
The rise of the Labour Party as a major political force in Britain owes just as much to local stalwarts like Gompertz as it does to the likes of Hardie, Henderson, MacDonald and Attlee.
Iain Malcolm was born in South Shields, his family have a long association with the South Shields Labour Party stretching back to the 1940s. He served as a Councillor for Horsley Hill for 32 years, and is a former Leader of South Tyneside Council.
His book – The Reluctant Rebels – which tells the story of the impact of the implementation of the controversial 1972 Housing Finance Act in South Shields was published in 2003 by Durham City Publishing Company.