No region of Great Britain suffered more in the ‘Hungry Thirties’ than Tyneside and the North-East. Then, just when the people of Newcastle thought it couldn’t get any worse, along came the Great Depression. When the Labour Government failed to stem the tide of unemployment, Geordies began to look elsewhere – to the Communist Party, Independent Labour Party and not least the British Union of Fascists led by Sir Oswald Mosley.
For the next eight years, these contenders for political power fought a bitter ideological battle on the streets of Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead, Durham, Stockton and elsewhere.
The full story of this period of the North-East’s past has remained untold – something that local historian Gordon Stridiron has now remedied following a study of primary sources never before undertaken on the same scale.
Mosley’s ‘Blackshirts in Geordieland’ emerge not as the political thugs and would-be Quislings of stereotypical image. Instead, the reader discovers a group of patriotic idealists – against communism, against capitalism and against war, who whether right or wrong had the courage to face hostility and physical attack to make their message heard: ‘The War on Want is the War we Want!’