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The Lenin Estate, Bethnal Green: ‘Luxury Flats for Socialists’

This blog post will tell you more about politics in London than in the Soviet Union, but it’s nonetheless a fascinating piece of history. Highly recommended.

Municipal Dreams

We know what the Daily Mail thinks of Marxists.  It held the same opinion in the 1920s. So, when Bethnal Green Borough Council decided in 1927 to name its new housing scheme the Lenin Estate, it was – almost literally – like a red rag to a bull (or red bull to a rag, if you want to be clever).

In reality, it’s a complex and, in some ways, rather sad story.

The CallLabour first took control of Bethnal Green Borough Council in 1919, returning 24 councillors to the Liberals’ six.  The Party’s ‘uncrowned king’, according to the local press, was Joe Vaughan who would be Bethnal Green’s mayor for the three succeeding years.  As a member of the British Socialist Party and, from 1920, its successor organisation the British Communist Party, he was proclaimed by The Call ‘the only openly-avowed Bolshevik Mayor’ in the country.

But at a time of…

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