98 Facts About George Lansbury


George Lansbury was a British politician and social reformer who led the Labour Party from 1932 to 1935.


Originally a radical Liberal, Lansbury became a socialist in the early 1890s, and thereafter served his local community in the East End of London in numerous elective offices.


George Lansbury's activities were underpinned by his Christian beliefs which, except for a short period of doubt, sustained him through his life.


In 1912, George Lansbury helped to establish the Daily Herald newspaper, and became its editor.


George Lansbury devoted himself to local politics in his home borough of Poplar, and went to prison with 30 fellow-councillors for his part in the Poplar Rates Rebellion of 1921.


George Lansbury spent his final years travelling through the United States and Europe in the cause of peace and disarmament.


George Lansbury was born in Halesworth in the county of Suffolk on 22 February 1859.


George Lansbury was the third of nine children born to a railway worker, named George Lansbury, and Anne Lansbury.


George Lansbury then held a succession of manual jobs, including work as a coaling contractor in partnership with his elder brother, James, loading and unloading coal wagons.


George Lansbury was present at the riots which erupted outside Gladstone's house on 24 February 1878 after a peace meeting in Hyde Park.


That year young George Lansbury met fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Brine, whose father Isaac Brine owned a local sawmill.


Apart from a period of doubt in the 1890s when he temporarily rejected the Church, George Lansbury remained a staunch Anglican until his death.


In 1881, the first of George Lansbury's twelve children, Bessie, was born; another daughter, Annie, followed in 1882.


George Lansbury then contracted to work on a farm some 80 miles inland, to find upon arrival that his employer had misled him about living conditions and terms of employment.


For several months, the George Lansbury family lived in extreme squalor before George Lansbury secured release from the contract.


In May 1885, having received from his father-in-law Isaac Brine sufficient funds for a passage home, the George Lansbury family left Australia for good and returned to London.


On his return to London, George Lansbury took a job in Brine's timber business.


George Lansbury's effective campaigning skills had been noted by leading Liberals, including Samuel Montagu, the Liberal MP for Whitechapel, who persuaded the young activist to be his agent in the 1885 general election.


George Lansbury's handling of this election campaign prompted Montagu to urge him to stand for parliament himself.


George Lansbury declined this, partly on practical grounds, and partly on principle; he was becoming increasingly convinced that his future lay not as a radical Liberal but as a socialist.


George Lansbury continued to serve the Liberals, as an agent and local secretary, while expressing his socialism in a short-lived monthly radical journal, Coming Times, which he founded and co-edited with a fellow-dissident, William Hoffman.


In 1888 George Lansbury agreed to act as election agent for Jane Cobden, who was contesting the first elections for the newly formed London County Council as Liberal candidate for the Bow and Bromley division.


George Lansbury counselled Cobden in the issues of greatest concern to the East End electorate: housing for the poor, ending of sweated labour, rights of public assembly, and control of the police.


George Lansbury urged her, during the hearings, to "go to prison and let the Council back you up by refusing to declare your seat vacant".


George Lansbury was offended by his party's lukewarm support for women's rights.


George Lansbury was further disillusioned by his party's failure to endorse the eight-hour maximum working day.


George Lansbury had formed the view, expressed some years later, that "Liberalism would progress just as far as the great money bags of capitalism would allow it to progress".


Nevertheless, George Lansbury did not resign from the Liberals until he had fulfilled a commitment to act as election agent for John Murray MacDonald, the prospective Liberal candidate for Bow and Bromley.


George Lansbury saw his candidate victorious in the July 1892 general election; as soon as the result was declared, Lansbury resigned from the Liberal Party and joined the SDF.


George Lansbury quickly became the federation's most tireless propagandist, travelling throughout Britain to address meetings or to demonstrate solidarity with workers involved in industrial disputes.


Around this time, George Lansbury temporarily set aside his Christian beliefs and became a member of the East London Ethical Society.


In 1895 George Lansbury fought two parliamentary elections for the SDF in Walworth, first a by-election on 14 May, then the 1895 general election two months later.


George Lansbury preached a straightforward revolutionary doctrine: "The time has arrived", he informed an audience at Todmorden in Lancashire, "for the working classes to seize political power and use it to overthrow the competitive system and establish in its place state cooperation".


George Lansbury's cause was hindered by his public opposition to the Boer War at a time when war fever was strong, while Guthrie, a former soldier, stressed his military credentials.


George Lansbury lost the election, though his total of 2,258 votes against Guthrie's 4,403 was considered creditable by the press.


George Lansbury became disenchanted by Hyndman's inability to work with other socialist groups, and in about 1903 resigned from the SDF to join the Independent Labour Party.


At around this time, George Lansbury rediscovered his Christian faith and rejoined the Anglican Church.


In place of the traditionally harsh workhouse regime that was the norm, George Lansbury proposed a programme of reform, whereby the workhouse became "an agency of help instead of a place of despair", and the stigma of poverty was removed.


George Lansbury was one of a minority socialist bloc which was often able, through its energy and commitment, to win support for its plans.


George Lansbury helped to transform the Forest Gate District School, previously a punitive establishment run on quasi-military lines, into a proper place of education that became the Poplar Training School, and was still in existence more than half a century later.


At the 1897 annual Poor Law Conference George Lansbury summarised his views on poor relief in his first published paper: "The Principles of the English Poor Law".


George Lansbury's analysis offered a Marxist critique of capitalism: only the reorganisation of industry on collectivist lines would solve contemporary problems.


George Lansbury added to his public duties when, in 1903, he was elected to Poplar Borough Council.


George Lansbury persuaded Fels, in 1904, to purchase a 100-acre farm at Laindon, in Essex, which was converted into a labour colony that provided regular work for Poplar's unemployed and destitute.


George Lansbury retained the confidence of his electorate and was easily re-elected to the Board of Guardians in 1907.


In 1905 George Lansbury was appointed to a Royal Commission on the Poor Laws, which deliberated for four years.


George Lansbury had been recommended to the constituency by Joseph Fels, who agreed to meet his expenses.


The local ILP leadership was committed by an electoral pact to support the Liberal candidate, and could not endorse George Lansbury, who secured less than 9 per cent of the vote.


Under Hansen's influence George Lansbury took up the cause of "votes for women"; he allied himself with the Women's Social and Political Union, the more militant of the main suffragist organisations, and became a close associate of Emmeline Pankhurst and her family.


George Lansbury again fought Bow and Bromley, and this time was successful.


George Lansbury found little support in his fight for women's suffrage from his parliamentary Labour colleagues, whom he dismissed as "a weak, flabby lot".


George Lansbury was temporarily suspended from the House for "disorderly conduct".


In October 1912, aware of the unbridgeable gap between his own position and that of his Labour colleagues, George Lansbury resigned his seat to fight a by-election in Bow and Bromley on the specific issue of women's suffrage.


George Lansbury lost to his Conservative opponent, who campaigned on the slogan "No Petticoat Government".


Out of parliament, on 26 April 1913 George Lansbury addressed a WSPU rally at the Albert Hall, and openly defended violent methods: "Let them burn and destroy property and do anything they will, and for every leader that is taken away, let a dozen step forward in their place".


George Lansbury immediately went on hunger strike, and was released after four days; although liable to rearrest under the so-called "Cat and Mouse Act", he was thereafter left at liberty.


George Lansbury sent eye-witness accounts to the paper, which supported calls for a negotiated peace with Germany in line with President Woodrow Wilson's later "peace note" of January 1917.


In February 1920 George Lansbury travelled to Russia where he met Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders.


George Lansbury published an account: What I Saw in Russia, but the impact of the visit was overshadowed by accusations that the Herald was being financed from Bolshevist sources, a charge vehemently denied by Lansbury: "We have received no Bolshevist money, no Bolshevist paper, no Bolshevist bonds".


George Lansbury resigned the editorship and made the paper over to the Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress, although he continued to write for it and remained its titular general manager until 3 January 1925.


George Lansbury had long argued that a degree of rates equalisation across London was necessary, to share costs more fairly.


George Lansbury was hailed as a hero; in the 1922 general election he won the parliamentary seat of Bow and Bromley with a majority of nearly 7,000, and would hold it for the rest of his life.


The term "Poplarism", always identified closely with George Lansbury, became part of the political lexicon, applied generally to campaigns where local government stood against central government on behalf of the poor and least privileged of society.


King George Lansbury V advised Baldwin, as leader of the largest party, not to resign his office until defeated by a vote in the House of Commons.


Lansbury caused royal offence by publicly implying that the king had colluded with other parties to keep Labour out, and by his references to the fate of Charles I Despite his seniority, Lansbury was offered only a junior non-cabinet post in the new government, which he declined.


George Lansbury believed that his exclusion from the cabinet followed pressure from the king.


At the 1923 Labour Party conference, while declaring himself a republican, George Lansbury opposed two motions calling for the abolition of the monarchy, deeming the issue a "distraction".


George Lansbury became president of the International League Against Imperialism, where among his fellow executive members were Jawaharlal Nehru, Mme.


George Lansbury joined the new cabinet as First Commissioner of Works, with responsibilities for historic buildings and monuments and for the royal parks.


George Lansbury's duties brought him into frequent contact with the King, who as Ranger of the royal parks insisted on regular consultation.


The great majority of Labour MPs, including George Lansbury, were opposed to this action; MacDonald and the few who followed him were expelled from the party, and Arthur Henderson became leader.


Labour was reduced to 46 members; George Lansbury was the only senior member of the Labour leadership to retain his seat.


In most historians' reckonings, George Lansbury led his small parliamentary force with skill and flair.


George Lansbury was, says Shepherd, an inspiration to the dispirited Labour rank and file.


George Lansbury, supported by many in the PLP, adopted a position of Christian pacifism, unilateral disarmament and the dismantling of the British Empire.


The national executive had tabled a resolution calling for sanctions against Italy, which George Lansbury opposed as a form of economic warfare.


Bevin attacked George Lansbury for putting his private beliefs before a policy, agreed by all the party's main institutions, to oppose fascist aggression, and accused him of "hawking your conscience round from body to body asking to be told what to do with it".


Union support ensured that the sanctions resolution was carried by a huge majority; George Lansbury, realising that a Christian pacifist could no longer lead the party, resigned a few days later.


George Lansbury was 76 years old when he resigned the Labour leadership; he did not retire from public life.


George Lansbury devoted himself entirely to the cause of world peace, a quest that took him, in 1936, to the United States.


George Lansbury addressed large crowds in 27 cities before meeting President Roosevelt in Washington to present his proposals for a world peace conference.


Later that year Lansbury met Mussolini in Rome; he described the Italian leader as "a mixture of Lloyd George, Stanley Baldwin and Winston Churchill".


George Lansbury wrote several accounts of his peace journeys, notably My Quest for Peace.


George Lansbury continued to meet European leaders through 1938 and 1939, and was nominated, unsuccessfully, for the 1940 Nobel Peace Prize.


George Lansbury argued against direct confrontation with Mosley's Blackshirts during the October 1936 demonstrations known as the Battle of Cable Street.


On 3 September 1939, after Neville Chamberlain's announcement of war with Germany, George Lansbury addressed the House of Commons.


Early in 1940 George Lansbury's health began to fail; although unaware, he was suffering from stomach cancer.


George Lansbury died on 7 May 1940, at the Manor House Hospital in Golders Green.


George Lansbury's legacy has been the adamantine insistence among an element within the Labour Party that Britain must stand for moral principles, must set the world a moral example.


Foot, who as a young man met and was influenced by George Lansbury, was particularly impressed by the older man's achievements in establishing the Daily Herald, given his complete lack of journalistic training.


Nevertheless, Foot felt that George Lansbury's pacifism was unrealistic, and believed that Bevin's demolition at the 1935 conference was justified.


George Lansbury's memory is further sustained by streets and housing developments named after him, most notably the Lansbury Estate in Poplar, completed in 1951.


George Lansbury married Elizabeth Jane Brine on 22 May 1880 in Whitechapel, London.


George Lansbury took up work in his father-in-law's Whitechapel sawmill and began his political career speaking about the harsh conditions in Australia.


George Lansbury was for a time a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain.


George Lansbury's youngest daughter, Violet, was an active CPGB member in the 1920s, who lived and worked as a translator in Moscow for many years.


George Lansbury married Clemens Palme Dutt, the brother of the Marxist intellectual Rajani Palme Dutt.


George Lansbury married Ernest Thurtle, the Labour MP for Shoreditch, and was herself a member of Shoreditch council, serving as mayor in 1936.