Lansbury, George

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Lansbury, George

George Lansbury (lănz´bərē), 1859–1940, British Labour party leader. During the 1880s he was influenced by Christian socialism, and he later joined (1892) the Social Democratic Federation. A reformer, he campaigned constantly for the amelioration of poverty and for woman suffrage. He was a member of the royal commission on the Poor Laws (1905–9) and signed the famous minority report. He helped to found the Daily Herald (1912), which he edited until 1922, when it became the official Labour party newspaper. A Labour member of Parliament (1910–12, 1922–40), he served as commissioner of works (1929–31) and as leader of the opposition (1931–35) against the National government of Ramsay MacDonald. A lifelong pacifist, he had defended conscientious objectors during World War I, and in 1935 he resigned as party leader over the issue of League of Nations sanctions against Italy, a move he thought would lead to war. He advocated unilateral disarmament by Great Britain during the 1930s, and in 1937 visited Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in an attempt to avoid war.

See his autobiographical Looking Backwards—and Forwards (1935); biographies by R. W. Postgate (1951), R. Holman (1990), and J. Schneer (1990).

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