George Lansbury

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Lansbury, George (1859–1940). Christian socialist and pacifist. Lansbury came from working-class stock, and after flirting with Liberalism in London's East End in the 1880s identified himself with socialist politics, more especially in the context of local government. In 1921 he and other members of Poplar Borough Council suffered imprisonment rather than authorize the payment, to the London County Council, of monies which they claimed impoverished London boroughs could not afford. Perhaps for this reason, Lansbury was excluded from the 1924 Labour government, but in 1929 he became first commissioner of works. In 1931 he managed to retain his parliamentary seat at Bow and Bromley, and was elected Labour leader in the Commons. His obsession with pacifism in the early 1930s led him to oppose sanctions against Italy following Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia, and in a dramatic but empty gesture he resigned the leadership at the 1935 Labour conference, striding defiantly out of the conference hall after being denied access to the microphone.

Geoffrey Alderman

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