A joiner, William E Rounce was also a long-term activist in the Woodworkers Society when he became widely known as a “crypto-communist” amongst the intensely dominant right-wing labour movement in the North East of England during the 1930s.
He came from Jarrow, which was one of those towns where the Labour Party and Trades Council Executive sat as one body. This meant that a large number of leading Labour Party members from the late 1920s onwards were actually former Communists who had left the Party not because they wanted to but because the right win bureaucracy of Labour had forced them to if they wanted to continue in their labour movement leadership roles. Rounce sat on the Executive for the ASW for a very long period.
The matter of Communist sympathy inside the Jarrow Labour Party became significant during the infamous Jarrow march. In June 1937 Jarrow’s Labour mayor was driven to publicly deny that there were any Communists in the local Labour Party. But he added that some members may have once been Communist Party members before joining Labour.
Rounce can not have been alone inside the Labour Party as a crypto-Communist, since Jarrow LP&TC openly supported several Communist causes in the late thirties. But in 1937, under the influence of the various unity campaigns then proceeding, he joined the Communist Party, seemingly secretly.
Rounce was actually elected onto the council as a Labour candidate at a by-election in April 1938 but the Daily Worker had described him as a Communist municipal election candidate. It then retracted that and claimed this was an error and that he was actually a Labour candidate. Apparently, this did Rounce no good and he was not re-selected and sat out his time as a councillor as a Communist.