Minnie Lansbury became a teacher, and joined the East London Federation of Suffragettes in 1915. She was also chairman of the War Pensions Committee, fighting for the rights of widows, orphans and wounded from World War I. She was elected alderman on Poplar’s first Labour council in 1919, before women received Parliamentary suffrage. She and Susan Lawrence were part of the Labour group that defied central government and refused to set a rate, arguing that the poverty in the area meant that the poor were being asked to pay for the poor. Lawrence was imprisoned for five weeks in Holloway Prison in 1921, but ultimately she and her fellow councillors' campaign succeeded, in that government passed a law to equalise Poor Law rates. Writs were served on 30 Popular councillors, who were jailed in September 1921. Twenty four male councillors went to Brixton prison, while six women were held at Holloway. The arrests took place over a number of days and attracted huge attention, and a film was made of them. Fifteen thousand people marched to Holloway to support the jailed women councillors with trade union banners much in evidence. The struggle was also reported in the Daily Herald, the edition of the paper for 5 September 1921 had the headline 'Our Editor In Gaol For Justice' of which George Lansbury was editor. The fight of the councillors attracted national attention and the area became known as 'Red Poplar' Supporters singing the Red Flag and a huge number of visitors continually harassed the prison authorities. The campaigning pressure forced the Home Office to allow all 34 councillors to hold Poplar council meetings in Brixton prison.Women were taken by cab to Brixton where council meetings were held. Susan Lawrence used the time to read Tolstoy and prepare a pamphlet on taxation. However conditions in prison were not pleasant. Several councillors became ill and within a few weeks of her release Minnie Lansbury, one of George Lansbury's sisters, had died, partly as a result of her treatment in Holloway where she caught pneumonia and never fully recovered her health.
The Minnie Lansbury Clock bares the plaque inscription "The clock above was erected by public subscription in memory of Minnie Lansbury who after a life devoted to the service of the poor of this borough, died on New Year's Day, 1922, aged 32 years." In 2008 the clock was restored through a public appeal organised by the Jewish East End Celebration Society and the Heritage of London Trust and included contribution from actress Angela Lansbury, whose father Edgar Lansbury had been married to Minnie prior to her early death.
Jackson, S. (2017). Minnie Lansbury: Teacher, union activist, suffragette, rebel councillor.