Dead Socialist Watch, #255

John Burns, socialist politician and Liberal MP. Apparently converted to the cause of socialism by reading Mill’s Principles of Political Economy, Burns was a member of the Social Democratic Federation, and one who pursued parliamentary strategies after that organisation split. Briefly jailed in 1887 after fighting with police in Trafalgar Square and elected to London County Council in 1889 for Battersea, Burns became famous for his oratory during the Dockers’ Strike, and in 1892 was elected MP for Battersea. Sticking with the Liberals, rather than join Keir Hardie’s ILP or the Labour Representation Committee, Burns entered the Cabinet in 1906 as President of the Local Government Board, though his six years there were undistinguished. Briefly President of the Board of Trade in 1914, he resigned from the Government on the outbreak of war, believing that Britain should stay out of European controversies. Born in Lambeth, 20 October 1858, died in Wandsworth, 24 January 1943.

0 thoughts on “Dead Socialist Watch, #255”

  1. Was he the first elected labour politician to punch a voter? Some time early in the 1900s Burns arrived at his south London home to find a gang of ruffians calling him ‘the Battersea lemondrop’ (what that means, I’m not sure, but apparently it was a great insult). Burns, in an action that foreshadowed the amazing John Prescott assault 100 years later) floored one of the men with a perfect right. Unlike Prezza though John Burns was a proper student of boxing. The bloke apparently didn’t get up for a while.

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