Obituary: David Ginsburg

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The Independent Online
David Ginsburg, market research consultant and politician: born London 18 March 1921; Senior Research Officer, Government Social Survey 1946-52; Secretary of Research Department and Secretary of Home Policy Sub-Committee of National Executive Committee, Labour Party 1952-59; MP for Dewsbury 1959-81 (Labour 1959-81, SDP 1981-83); Chairman, Parliamentary and Scientific Committee 1968-71; married 1954 Louise Cassy; died London 18 March 1994.

David Ginsburg became well- known as a Labour Member of Parliament for Dewsbury, in West Yorkshire. He was elected in 1959, and lost the seat in the 1983 general election, two years after joining the SDP.

For 23 years his work as MP for Dewsbury was distinguished by excellent parliamentary clinics and his helpfulness in sorting out his constituents' personal problems. These were made much more numerous and difficult by Dewsbury's having large groups of racial minorities who had found a home there and needed help.

Ginsburg's personal generosity in the giving of his time, well beyond the call of duty, to help other people was perhaps his most pronounced characteristic.

He was, in any case, very busy as Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee (1968-71) and as a successful consultant in market research, first, for some 12 years, to the MIL Research Group and then, for the last 20 years, to IMS International. In both companies, he pioneered the application of market research to problems of the healthcare industry. His successful career, mixing political work with business assignments, was largely influenced by his studies and activities, prewar, during the war and immediately post-war.

He went to Oxford University, graduating at Balliol in the same generation as Edward Heath, Denis Healey and Roy Jenkins, and served as Chairman of the university's Democratic Socialist Club, succeeding Roy Jenkins.

Several decades later, and throughout a friend of Roy Jenkins (later Lord Jenkins of Hillhead), he joined the latter when Jenkins became one of the initial leaders of the Social Democratic Party. Ginsburg resigned from the Labour Party to become, in 1981, one of the first few SDP Members of Parliament in British politics. He often commented that his decision to do so was influenced by his view of Jenkins as the most talented and effective Chancellor of the Exchequer of the post-war years.

Ginsburg was commissioned in Intelligence in the Second World War, after training at Sandhurst, and later, as Captain, specialised in interviewing German prisoners of war. His knowledge of German, as well as of French and Russian, was excellent. He had spent time in Vienna and later at Grenoble University to master the languages.

Although his parents came to Britain from St Petersburg via Riga, he was himself born in England and, for a Jew, had a very peaceful pre-war upbringing at University College School, Hampstead, and, subsequently, as an undergraduate at Oxford. As holder of the Smith-Mundt Scholarship from 1954 to 1955, he spent time lecturing at American universities on British politics and the Labour movement.

This unique career enabled Ginsburg to become very wise both in making decisions and in advising others how to do so: he was expert as a diplomat in negotiating with both political and business parties.

(Photograph omitted)