One of my great heroes is Minnie Lansbury. She is one of those socialist feminists who would be an icon if more people had even heard of her.
Briefly ... Minnie was born in 1889 in Stepney to Jewish parents named Glassman. She was a school teacher and in 1915 became a committee member of Sylvia Pankhurst's East London Federation of Suffragettes, the following year becoming Assistant Secretary. She served on the War Pensions Committee during the 1914-18 war. In 1914 she married Edgar Lansbury, gaining George Lansbury as a father-in-law and joining a family of Lansburys who were committed socialists and active suffrage campaigners.
In 1918, Minnie was elected Assistant Secretary of the Workers’ Socialist Federation. She join the Communist Party as soon as it was founded in 1920.
When Labour won a big majority on Poplar Council in 1919, it appointed Minnie as one of its Aldermen. In 1921, she - along with 29 of her comrades - was imprisoned for her part in the Poplar Rates Rebellion. The imprisonment damaged her health, and Minnie died at the tragically young age of 32 on New Year's Day 1922.
Why mention this now? Because I have just found out that her memorial clock on Bow Road is in bad disrepair, needing £10,000+ to fix and Tower Hamlets Council will not stump up the dosh.
There are far too few historical role models for today's socialist women. Minnie Lansbury is one of them, and yet far too few people have even heard of her, and if her one memorial is not repaired, there is little chance of reversing that.
So - if you live in Tower Hamlets, tell your Councillor (and your MP?) that the Council should pay up (in fact, your MP could possibly afford to foot the bill himself). If not, then watch this space, as I am tracking down details of the appeal and will post them here when I have them. Apparently, Angela Lansbury (daughter of Minnie's widower Edgar's second marriage) has already contributed.