Tom Shaw (politician)

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Tom Shaw

Tom Shaw - politician.jpg
Shaw in 1923
Secretary of State for War
In office
7 June 1929 – 24 August 1931
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterRamsay MacDonald
Preceded bySir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt
Succeeded byThe Marquess of Crewe
Personal details
Born9 April 1872 (1872-04-09)
Colne, Lancashire
Died26 September 1938 (1938-09-27) (aged 66)
Political partyLabour

Thomas Shaw CBE PC (9 April 1872 – 26 September 1938), known as Tom Shaw, was a British trade unionist and Labour Party politician.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Shaw was born in Waterside, Colne, Lancashire. He was the eldest son of a miner, Ellis Shaw, and his wife, Sarah Ann (née Wilkinson). At age 10, Shaw began working part-time in a textile factory, and two years later quit school to work full-time. Later, he took evening classes to catch up with his education and was particularly skillful in languages. His knowledge of German and French proved useful to him later in his career.[1]

Trade unions[edit]

Shaw was a strong supporter of unions. He joined the Colne Weavers' Association and became its secretary, and was a founding member of the Northern Counties Textile Trades Federation. He was Joint Secretary of Labour and Socialist International from 1923–1925. He was secretary of the International Federation of Textile Workers' Associations on a part-time basis from 1911 to 1924 and then full-time from 1925 to 1929, part-time until 1931, and then full-time again, a job that took him to nearly every country in Europe.[1][2]

Political career[edit]

He sat as Member of Parliament (MP) for Preston from December 1918 until he was unseated at the 1931 general election. He served as a Junior Whip, 1919; as Minister of Labour in the Labour Government 1924 and as Secretary of State for War from 1929–1931.

During the First World War, Shaw served as Director of national service for the West Midland Region. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1919 New Year Honours.[3] and appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1924.

Shaw served on several national commissions. In 1926, he headed a delegation to India investigate conditions in the textile industry there. From 1917 to 1920, he was a member of the Holman Gregory commission on workmen's compensation. He pushed for passage of a bill limiting to the 48-hour working week in 1919 and again in 1924.[1]

Shaw did not support communist ideology, but favoured friendly political and trade relations with Russia.[1]

Personal life[edit]

In 1893, Shaw married Susannah Whitaker Sterne Ryan Woodhead. They had four daughters.[1]

Shaw died in September 1938 in Middlesex, aged 66.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Middleton, J. S. "Shaw, Thomas (1872–1938)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  2. ^ Fowler, Alan (2018). Lancashire Cotton Operatives and Work, 1900-1950. Routledge. ISBN 1351753207.
  3. ^ "No. 31114". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 January 1919. p. 451.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hon. George Stanley
Urban H. Broughton
Member of Parliament for Preston
With: Hon. George Stanley 1918–1922
James Hodge 1922–1924
Alfred Ravenscroft Kennedy 1924–1929
Sir William Jowitt 1929–1931
Succeeded by
Adrian Moreing
William Kirkpatrick
Political offices
Preceded by
Anderson Montague-Barlow
Minister of Labour
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland, Bt
Preceded by
Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt
Secretary of State for War
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Crewe
Trade union offices
Preceded by
G. Berry
General Secretary of the Colne Weavers' Association
Succeeded by
William H. Boocock
Preceded by
New position
Secretary of the Northern Counties Textile Trades Federation
Succeeded by
Luke Bates
Preceded by
James Brown and Edward Duxbury
Auditor of the Trades Union Congress
With: J. Wood (1915)
William Latham (1916)
Succeeded by
Henry Boothman and Frank Hodges
Preceded by
William Marsland
Secretary of the International Federation of Textile Workers
Succeeded by
James Bell
Preceded by
James Bell
Secretary of the International Federation of Textile Workers' Associations
Succeeded by
Arthur Shaw
Party political offices
Preceded by
New position
Secretary of the Labour and Socialist International
With: Friedrich Adler (1923–1925)
Succeeded by
Friedrich Adler