Angela Lansbury remembers grandfather who championed East End’s poor

Hollywood star Angela Lansbury arrives in London’s East End at the weekend for a special service celebrating the life of her equally-famous grandfather.

She is addressing the congregation at Bow Church on Saturday on how she remembers George Lansbury, the rebel Mayor of Poplar who went to prison in the 1920s on a principle of protecting the poor against inequitable rates.

George Lansbury, who died in 1940 aged 80, made his stand in the notorious Poplar rates strike of 1921 along with his wife Bessy and daughter-in-law Minnie Lansbury, both Poplar councillors, who also went to jail with 30 others rather than pass on a heavy rates precept from the London County Council to working-class families.

Millie Lansbury insisted at the time: “Poplar will pay its share of London’s rates when Westminster, Kensington, and the City do the same.”

Some 4,000 supporters demonstrated at Tower Hill. But the rebel councillors were arrested four days later and spent six weeks in prison before public pressure got them released.


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Their stand changed the law and George Lansbury went on to be MP for Bromley & Bow, after previously quitting the Commons 10 years earlier over his stand for votes for women.

He was now back at Westminster. But his Left Wing views kept him out of Ramsey MacDonald’s Labour Government at the height of the Depression in the early 1930s when he was needed most.

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Through all this, George Lansbury was a committed Christian Socialist, worshipping with his family every Sunday at Bow Church.

Angela Lansbury unveils a commemorative plaque on Saturday to honour her grandfather’s life and the legacy he left behind—an East End that fights for social justice against the odds.

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