Sir Alfred Beit was the MP for the wider area from 1931 and was re-elected in 1935. He was a Conservative, or Unionist, and came from a very wealthy background. His uncle was closely connected to Cecil Rhodes, as a business partner in diamond mining. One of the few times Somers town was represented by someone who was not from the Labour Party, he was not popular with local people. If he visited the streets of Somers Town, children chased after him singing,:
Vote vote vote for Mr Labour
Throw old Beity down the stairs
If it wasn’t for the law
we would punch ’im on the jaw
and we wouldn’t vote for Beity anymore
The Labour candidate at the 1935 election was Santo Jeger, so his surname might have been in the first line instead of ‘Labour’ at that time – as it also scans. When Beit lost his seat in 1945, Santo Jeger was indeed elected and also won the local elections in 1950 and 1951. He died young and was succeeded in the next by-election by his widow, Lena Jeger. By then, Beit had moved to South Africa and then Ireland, where he cultivated his impressive art collection.
By Esther Leslie
Thanks to Anne Kauder for this recollection from her mother, a Somers Town child.
Beit in National Portrait gallery