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Who was John Scurr?
John Scurr was born in 1876 and brought to England at the age of six months by his uncle Captain John Scurr. He grew up in Poplar and was adopted by his uncle after his mother died when he was an infant. He was educated at George Green’s School which was then a grammar school in the East India Dock Road and then at King’s College School. He started work in a Poplar office.
In the late 1890’s he worked with others including George Lansbury to improve conditions for working people. He became a member of the Poplar Labour League in 1897 and then became secretary. In 1910-11 he played a major part in the Dock Strike as District Chairman of the Dockers’ Union.
George Lansbury invited him to work for The Daily Herald which was the only national newspaper that supported the Labour Party. John Scurr was elected to Poplar Borough Council in 1919 and was later made an Alderman and was Mayor 1922-23. In 1921 he was sent to Brixton Prison with the Labour members of the Poplar Council including George Lansbury and Susan Lawrence for refusing to levy Poplar’s share of the London County Council Police and Metropolitan Asylum contribution on the ground that local rate payers were already impoverished with high levels of unemployment.
From 1925 to 1929 John Scurr was an Alderman of the LCC. After several attempts to get into Parliament he was elected for Mile End Ward in 1923 and again in 1924 and 1929 increasing his majority each time and in 1923 taking the seat for Labour for the first time from the Conservatives.
In 1931 he was defeated by a Conservative candidate. As a Roman Catholic he played a leading role in the debates leading up to the 1930 Education Bill especially over the role of voluntary schools. He died in 1932