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John Burns (1856-1943)

John Burns (1858-1943) worked as an engineer in London and Nigeria, West Africa. After his return from Africa in 1881, he joined the Amalgamated Society of Engineers and became increasingly active in socialist politics. In 1884, he joined the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) and unsuccessfully contested Nottingham as a SDF parliamentary candidate in 1885. He served 6 weeks imprisonment after attempting to break a police cordon around Trafalgar Square on Bloody Sunday -13 November 1887- the culmination of the campaign for free speech in Ireland.

In 1889, he was one of the chief negotiators in the London Dock Strike. He was a brilliant speaker and a flair for publicity in dealing with the press and in fanning sympathetic support for the strikers. In 1890, he was elected to represent Battersea on the London County Council and was MP for the constituency 1892-1918. He joined the Liberal Government and was president of the local Government Board 1905-1914, then President of the Board of Trade, although he resigned from this post on the outbreak of the First World War.

Title John Burns (1856-1943)
Maker --
Production Date 1888
Format Photograph
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Holding Institution TUC Library Collections, London Metropolitan University
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