Irene "Ina" Chaplin : 1900-1990

For many years Irene Chaplin was Chair of our Governors. I saw her several times between 1958 and 1964 when she came in her official capacity to a Speech Day or whatever. I don't ever remember her being personally introduced with much fanfare or information, though I assume that Mr Smitherman and Mr Bailey must have made some brief introduction at whatever ceremony was taking place. So at school, I did not know much about her; she was just another of the various VIPs that we occasionally saw. It was only much later that I realized how much she had done for the school over many years: supporting us in so many ways. But she was incredibly active elsewhere of course, and hereafter follows evidence of this. She was a remarkable lady who devoted her life to public service, and the school was very fortunate to have her on our side. (CS - 9/2019)

From "Labour Heritage - Recording Labour's History"

Labour in Holborn in the 1930s and 1940s

Editorial Note

Irene 'Ina' Chaplin (nee Marcouse) was a leading member of Holborn Labour Party, a Holborn Councillor from 1939, and its Parliamentary candidate in the 1945 General Election. Ina was born in Memel on the Baltic, and later lived in Brussels. She went to Heidleberg and then London Universities. She married Hugh Chaplin, who became Principal Keeper of the Department of Printed Books. (A) Some of her papers were passed to their good friend Irene Wagner, Labour Heritage's Treasurer. These shed light on Labour and labour movement politics in Holborn in the 1930s &1940s. This review gives a flavour of the material.

Sean Creighton


Irene Marcouse was a graduate of London University and was active on the Standing Committee of Convocation, the graduates’ organisation. (2) She had settled in Holborn in 1930. (3) She was one of the founders of the Holborn Youth Centre, and remained its Vice-Chairman after it was taken over by the Borough Council. She became a local Councillor in 1939 quickly becoming Labour Opposition Group Leader. (2) She was a member of Holborn Youth Committee, Governor of Central Foundation Schools and Reeves Foundation, and member of the Assistance Board Advisory Committee (Central Area). (3) She was also a JP. She lived at 44 Russell Square. Before the War she had been a business executive, and at some stage during the War had become a publisher's reader. She was Treasurer of Holborn's Aid to Russia Week, which had raised £3,000 for the Russian allies. (2)   

Holborn's United Left Activity

The second half of the 1930s saw a high level of political activity in Holborn. In 1935 what appears to be a united left duplicated magazine ‘Holborn Opinion’ was started. Its third issue in the run up to the General Election on 14 November 1935, appealed to its readers to vote Labour, help defeat the National Government, and put a new Government behind an end to war, and pointed out the danger of Mosley's fascists. An article on 'The Blackshirts, the War Danger and the General Election in Holborn', pointing out that Mosley's so-called 'Peace' petition for Britain to ignore the Italian invasion of Abyssinia was really a petition for the Italians to 'continue their campaign of mass murder in Abyssinia.' It called for the setting up of a Peace Council. It contained the Communist Party's proposals for peace. There was also an article on air raid precautions by Mrs Ursula Roberts (the authoress Susan Miles), and wife of the Rector of St George's Church and Rural Dean of Holborn and Finsbury. (4)

The Holborn Peace Council was established in March 1936, chaired by Rev W C Roberts, to co-ordinate peace work in the Borough. It organised a Peace Week for May 10-17th. The programme included an open-air service, a film, open air meetings, a social and dance, performances by a number of organisations including Unity Theatre Club, the London Labour Choral Union, and the Young Workers Ballet, a public meeting and slide show, children's entertainments, and a demonstration and rally, lending support on Sunday 17 May for the Women's World Committee against War and Fascism's demonstration to Trafalgar Square. There were short articles by Ronald Kidd, the Secretary of the National Council for Civil Liberties, and Lew Kenton, the Chairman of Holborn Communist Party, and E Whittall, the Secretary of the Holborn Branch League of Nations Union. Other supporting organisations included Holborn Film Group, the Association of Woman Clerks and Secretaries (West Central), National Union of Sign, Glass & Ticket Writers Union branch, National Trade Union Club, Student Movement House, Inter-Hospital Socialist Society, and  Holborn Labour Party. (5)

As only one issue of ‘Holborn Opinion’ is in Irene Chaplin's papers, it is not clear what happened to it. However, by June 1936 it seems to have been replaced by ‘Holborn Outlook’, connected over the years with the Holborn Trades Council, the Labour Party, Contact Bookshop at 70 Millman St, and later the Holborn Tenants Defence League.

'Outlook’ gave a lot of space to what was happening in Spain and elsewhere in the world. Len Hunt of Little James's St, a member of Queen's Park Harriers and a Middlesex County runner, wrote about attending the Workers' Olympiad in Barcelona in July held at the time of the Civil War. (6) Summer 1937 saw an article about Holborn International Brigaders Ben Glaser and John Rickman. Rickman, a young Communist, at whose memorial at Conway Hall the former Labour Brigader Charles West spoke. (7) It promoted the big Labour Party pro-Spanish Republic demonstration at Albert Hall on 9 December  1938. (8)

‘Outlook’ also gave coverage to Labour's candidates, including Richard Jefferies, who was the Parliamentary candidate in 1935 (9), and George Cox, Labour's LCC Candidate (10), later Mayor of Holborn. (1) It also reported on the work of the Labour controlled London County Council, urging people to vote Labour on March 4 1937, and publishing a statement from the Secretary of Holborn Communist Party urging people to vote Labour. (1) The issues contain a lot of detail about Labour and other organisations activities.

Housing Issues

Housing was a current theme including the 'slum flats of Betterton House (12)(13), welcoming the Council's decision in 1936 to build 49 flats through demolishing 27-38 East St as long as the rents were reasonable, there were fireplaces in the bedrooms, playing spaces for children, room to hang out washing and cool pantries for food. (14) It became clear by Summer 1939 that the Council had no clear plans to rehouse the tenants. When they received notices to quit, Thora Loutit, the wife of the Labour Parliamentary candidate, helped seventeen tenants march to the Town Hall and see the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk agreed to postpone the notices, and find suitable alternative accommodation. (15)

‘Outlook’ was not just concerned with Council housing, but also with private housing conditions. It exposed the Tory Councillor offering a family of controlled tenants money and an offer of housing in Betterton St. The family was successfully represented by Holborn Labour's Poor Man's Lawyer who raised the compensation for leaving to £35. (16) 

Election of 6 Labour Councillors in 1937

The 1937 Council elections saw large scale absenteeism from the polls. The previous year ‘Outlook’ had been concerned about the danger of working class residents losing their vote through non-registration. It reminded its readers (c.2,000) that they should check that they were on the preliminary lists which would be published on 5 July. (17) The Holborn Conservatives deplored the low turnout. In the contested wards of Holborn an average of 13 out of every 20 electors 'did not bother to vote'. 'In Central St. Giles, where the Socialists captured all six seats for the first time, by only a few votes, 644 voted out of a possible 1,806 - 35.66 per cent of the electorate.' The percentage was even lower in some wards. 'Thus more than 8,000 of the 13,889 electors in contested wards left it to the rest to decide the issue. Is this democracy? Is it a credit to Holborn?' The Tories took delight in the defeat of the Communist Party candidates in St. George the Martyr ward. The result of similar apathy across London meant, argued the Tories, that Labour won control of 17 of the 28 Metropolitan Boroughs. (18)

The six Labour candidates elected were George Cox, who became Leader, George Wansborough, Mary Chance, Richard Clarke, Enid Jeeves and Bill Shebbeare. They wrote a special article in which they asked  ‘Outlook’ re for support. Irene Marcouse was just short of about 100 votes, which was regarded as 'a remarkable result'. (8) Mrs Chance was an office cleaner and member of the General & Municipal Workers Union. Her husband was a railwaymen. They lived on the LCC Bourne estate. (19)   

Kenneth Sinclair Loutit -  Prospective Labour Parliamentary Candidate

On 12 May 1938 a Holborn Tenants' Defence League was formed objecting to what appeared to be a 'means test' questionnaire sent by the Council to tenants. Labour Councillors supported its formation, as did the new Labour Parliamentary candidate Kenneth Sinclair Loutit.

Louitit was the son of a retired civil servant studying medicine at Cambridge University. There he had met a contingent of hunger marchers on their way to London, and then supported the Cambridge bus drivers' strike. In 1936 he was elected to the Committee of the organisation which became the Spanish Medical Aid Committee. He led the party taking the first three ambulances to Spain and stayed on providing medical support. In February 1937 he became Political Commissar for the International Brigade health services, and also married a nurse in the team, Thora Silverthorne.  They came back to England in August 1937. (20) The Holborn and West Central Committee of Spanish Medical Aid had held a meeting at Conway Hall on 25 June 1937 chaired by the publisher Victor Gollancz, with Prof. P.M.S. Blackett, Leah Manning, Audrey Russell and Stephen Spender as speakers. (21)

Loutit wrote about the situation in Holborn for ‘Outlook’(16),  on what Spain meant for Holborn (22), and on what would happen if Holborn was bombed. (23) By February 1938 Loutit had become a Labour Councillor, and wrote about what he would do for health, pointing out the excellent record of Labour controlled Finsbury Council (24), where he had become Medical Officer of Health. He was awarded the MBE in 1941. (25)

The Secretary of the Tenants Defence League began to write in ‘Outlook’ from November 1938. (26)

Air Raid Precautions (ARP)

Air raid precautions were becoming an issue of concern, as flagged up in Loutit's article (23). Labour Leader George Cox became an air-warden, and the Labour and Communist Parties co-operated in publishing a pamphlet 'A.R.P. - a plan for Holborn'. (24) A detailed article on what Finsbury did for ARP was published in  March 1939. (27) Loutit's criticism of the Council's lack of action was front page of the June 1939 issue. (28)

Marcouse as Councillor from 1939

Irene Marcouse became a Councillor towards the end of 1939 in a bye-election following the resignation of Labour's Richard Clarke. Bill Shebbeare also resigned following his call-up. (28) Marcouse quickly became Leader of the Labour Opposition on Holborn Council. In that capacity she:

  • argued for better air-raid shelters
  • won re-instatement of active trade unionists who had been dismissed from ARP on 'trivial charges'
  • twice formally pressed the Council 'to enlarge the six year-old scheme for 40 flats, which is the only plan it has made for Holborn's post-war housing.'
  • demanded 'a Holborn Plan to fit in with the L.C.C.'s great County of London Plan
  • fought Tory meanness over street cleaning, which non-resident Tories tried to stop on Sundays.
  • arranged for Holborn Library tickets to be interchangeable with other libraries. (2)

 ARP Issues

The National Union of Public Employees had expressed concern to the Holborn's ARP Emergency Committee and made suggestions for a more effective service. The Committee did not answer the representations, and instead fired four members of the Union who were ARP wardens, including the Secretary of the Holborn branch on the grounds that he had committed a breach of discipline in acting in his Union capacity, despite the Home Office recognition of the right of ARP workers to join trade unions and work for better conditions of work and stronger ARP services. Also sacked was John Morten, Secretary of the main NUPE branch in Holborn who had supported the representations. The Holborn People's ARP Committee held a meeting at which Irene Marcouse spoke for the sacked workers. A petition was started demanding reinstatement, and answers to their criticisms. (29)

 The War temporarily hit the ‘Outlook’. There was a gap in publication for three months coming out again in December in duplicated format, not its previous printed format. (30) This was only temporary. It was back to being printed for its next issue for February/March 1940. (29)

 The Tenants' Defence League continued to be active during the War, and by early 1941 had become the official publisher of ‘Outlook’ retaining the same broad coverage. An important new issue was the care and protection of people from air raids, including conditions in the shelters. Councillor Loutit raised the issue of the publicity for inoculation services at the January 1941 Council meeting. The Council had agreed to the Holborn Tube Shelter Committee's proposals to elect shelter marshal who would then elect a new Committee. (31)(32)

The work of the ARP Emergency Committee had already aroused concern through its sacking of trade unionists among the ARP workers.  The Holborn ARP Co-ordinating Committee submitted a memorandum proposing immediate provision of bomb-proof protection for the day and night population, immediate taking over of all good commercial shelters now only being used during the day, full use of modern medical knowledge to safeguard the health of the people, and humane treatment of the homeless and other air-raid wardens. Irene Marcouse raised the failure to respond at a Council. In January the Council decided formally that its members should not have the right to attend meetings of the Emergency Committee. (31)

This led to Irene Marcouse questioning whether the Council's Emergency Committee in charge of Air Raid Precautions which had been meeting since April 1939, had been properly established, and calling for clarification of its powers and duties, and to regularise the position. What seems to have prompted the concern was the fact that the Committee did not regard itself as accountable to the Council holding much of its business in secret and not disclosable to Councillors generally. (33)

Further offence was caused by the Committee when on 8 March 1941 John Millie, a member of B Company Holborn Stretcher Party was dismissed with no reason, despite being regarded as a good leader by the rest of the squad, probably dismissed because he was Secretary of a trade union branch that had been critical of the Council. It was the culmination of a dispute about his squad being ordered to do fire-watching at City empty buildings, which they refused to do. Under questioning from Marcouse the Mayor admitted the Council had acted improperly. 200 civil defence workers signed a petition calling for Millie's reinstatement. The Mayor walked out of the March Council meeting under questioning from Labour Councillors. (34)

The Mayor went on at another Council meeting to refuse to answer a number of questions about shelters, fire watching and stretcher parties from Irene Marcouse. (25)

The Emergency Committee then sacked 37 stretcher bearing men or no reason - all were members of trade unions. A protest meeting on 30 May called for their reinstatement. (35)

The Labour Councillors continued to protest their lack of ability to question the work of the Emergency Committee in respect of Irene Marcouse's questions about the sacked stretcher bearers. (36)

Marcouse as Parliamentary Candidate 1945

The last issue ‘Holborn Outlook’ in the collection is for November 1941.There is then a gap about Labour Party activities until 1944, during which time Irene Marcouse became Secretary of Holborn Labour Party.

The notice of the Annual General Meeting held on Monday 7 January 1944 was issued by her. At the December General Meeting there had been resolutions on 'A National Health Service' and 'The Famine in India', and Zilliacus talked about international working-class unity leading to a resolution submitted to the national Labour Party. The AGM had two resolutions for consideration for submission to the London Labour Party Annual Conference. One was on the lack of co-operation between the LCC and the Divisional Labour Parties in the selection of persons appointed by the LCC to sit on local bodies. The second argued the importance of educational work in youth clubs and centres. (37)

The Party began to prepare for the possibility of a General Election. Irene Marcouse was prospective Parliamentary candidate by February 1945. That month W A Halford, the Holborn Party Secretary sent round a letter calling for members and funds to help with the election of a new MP and a new Council. (38) Halford worked for the Gas, Light and Coke Company. (1)

According to Halford:

‘Holborn politics have been dominated by non-resident business men (out of forty-three Tory members of the Borough Council only six live in Holborn). You know how this has resulted in reactionary representation in Parliament and in apathy and backwardness in Local Government.' (38)

He explained that: 'A small but active group of Labour Councillors has been at work since 1937, criticising, suggesting, studying, laying the foundations of a progressive Holborn.' The Leader of this group was Irene Marcouse, J.P., 'a local resident with an intimate knowledge of the Borough'. (2)

Having already met with him in April 1945 about the forthcoming election (39) on 30 May Marcouse appointed J Diamond as her Election Agent. (40) Diamond was a Labour supporting businessman.(1)

On 12 June the Party held a Public Meeting at 7.30pm on Tuesday 12 June at Holborn Hall in Grays Inn Rd. Aneurin Bevan was the main speaker, with Mrs Leah Manning, a JP (41) and Labour candidate for Epping (42) and Marcouse. The meeting was chaired by Councillor George Cox. (41)

 The Conservative candidate was Group Captain Max Aitken. Aitken, as one of Marcouse's leaflets pointed out was the son and heir of Lord Beaverbrook,

'the man who made a fortune building trusts, controls one of the biggest chains of newspapers, and then poses as the champion of the little man; ... the Tory Party boss and election organiser, whose wild statements make even his own supporters laugh.' (2)

Aitken held public meetings, including an open air one near the Princes Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave. He attacked Attlee and the Socialists as standing for nationalisation and controls. "We believe in free enterprise, with a chance for every man and no direction as to where and for whom he shall work.' He was heckled, but some of his opponents in the crowd told the hecklers off saying give him a chance, he's a fine lad.' (43)

 He also visited the LCC Bourne Estate where he faced questions and answers 'shot at machine-gun speed', including what he had done during the war, and about peace with the Soviet Union. At another of his public open-air meetings on the corner of Macklin St, and on the corner of New North St and Theobalds Rd, he was supported by George Allison, the famous football manager. (44)

On 25 June Marcouse sent out her letter to proxy voters, acting on behalf of men in the forces. (45)

The last few days of the campaign saw Marcouse at 6 evening indoor meetings, all starting at 7.30pm.

Wednesday 27 June. Princton St School, with Dr. John Lewis and Theodore Besterman

Thursday 28 June at Macklin St. R. C. School with Thomas Dawson and Monica Whateley, both London County Councillors

Friday 29 June at St George The Martyr Hall in Queen Square supported by Margaret Cole and Richard Clements Monday 2 July at Kingsway Hall, supported by Dr. Portia Holman and Richard Clements

3 July at Conway Hall supported by Hannen Swaffer, Dr. John Lewis, and Dr Eric Fletcher, a London County Councillor standing for East Islington

Wednesday 4 July at Holborn Hall supported by Rt Hon. Lord Marley, Councillor Rawlinson and Richard Jefferies (46)

Her election material included the usual window posters, and election leaflet and an election address.

The leaflet 'People of Holborn. This is Your Candidate’ told the electorate about her background and work as a Councillor. She stressed that she had shared the dangers of the war, ' had' regularly taken her place in food queues with other Holborn housewives, and 'never missed a day nor night of the blitz' and knew 'at first hand the war-time problems of Holborn women'. The leaflet referring back to the previous General Election, 'If, instead of abstaining, the residents had voted in full strength, a Labour Member would have been returned in 1935.' It pointed out that the business voters were down from 10,000 to 2,000, some of whom were Labour supporters. (2)

The Election Address commended ordinary people's role in achieving the Victory in Europe, whether through being in the Forces, in the factories or caught in the Blitz. It reminded electors of some of the pre-war problems, and argued against the Tory case for ending war time controls.  'The only controls Labour wants to retain are those which are needed to prevent inefficiency, high pries and unemployment. Labour does not threaten the freedom of the citizen to live his own life, but only the freedom of the rich to enslave the poor.' It summarised Labour's Programme for victory over Japan, and peace, and reconstruction at home. (3)

Two days before the election ‘The Evening News’ published a photograph of Marcouse with the caption 'While they wait ... Holborn housewives, queuing for fish, hear the views of the Labour candidate, Miss Irene Marcouse.' (47)

Despite the national Labour landslide Max Aitken won Holborn for the Tories, with 6,061 votes to Marcouse's 5,136, a Conservative majority of 925, down from 7,329 in 1935. (48)(49) ‘The Evening Standard’ published a photograph of Aitken being congratulated. (48)

Labour Control of Council 1945-49

Despite its defeat in the 1945 General election, Holborn Labour Party took control of the Council in the 1945 Municipal elections. Irene Marcouse was elected (50) and became Leader (51) and Chairman of the Housing Committee. Others elected were George Cox (St George The Martyr Ward), and Halford (Central St. Giles Ward. Mary A M Chance was elected one of the seven Aldermen. (50)

In an undated speech Marcouse gave an outline of some of the things the Council was able to do quickly. It opened up a former derelict swimming pool as a open-air new pool. The care of the gardens in the squares neglected after the railings came down for the war effort, and introduced concerts and other entertainments. (51). This became subject of a letter of complaint about noise disturbance in August from a resident in Red Lion Square. Marcouse defended the concerts in a letter of reply. (52)

It turned a disused fire station into an Information Centre. A social and educational centre was opened in a former police barracks which had been used as a rest centre for those bombed-out and as an ARP HQ and a furniture store for furniture salvaged from bombed houses. An old war damaged building was being turned into a new library. A large space, pitted with basements of destroyed buildings was being leveled to form a safe children's playground. Badly damaged houses were being prepared for housing. (51)

The Tories forced the calling of a special Council meeting in August to discuss a resolution deploring 'the waste of labour and materials used on the Information Centre and other buildings of the Council on the direct instruction of the Leader of the Majority Party'. They complained that the authorisation was undemocratic as the Establishment Committee should have considered the matter, and because the labour and material would have been better spent on requisitioned houses. (53)

On Friday 10 May 1946 the Council agreed to apply for loan sanction for a housing scheme of 164 flats in six blocks to house approximately 500 people. It was hoped this would the first phase for a bigger scheme in the Great Ormond St area. (54) Before May was out the Tories proposed that 'requisitioning be temporarily stopped owing to the time necessary to make some properties habitable.' 131 properties had been requisitioned and were not yet ready for occupation. Irene Marcouse defended the Council's action.  

"It is ridiculous to suggest that we are requisitioning too much. We shall requisition everything that is available. If the old Council had done this the people of Holborn would be much better off by now." (55)

On 22 April 1947 the Council held a public meeting on the subject at Holborn Town Hall, chaired by Mary Chance. As Chairman of Housing  Marcouse explained that there were people who urgently needed to be housed, and large numbers who lived in unsatisfactory conditions. 350 families shared a bathroom, 1,700 did not have a separate water supply, 2,000 and no separate WC accommodation, and 3,500 had no bathroom.  There were problems of labour and materials shortages. Land in Holborn was very expensive making it difficult for the Council to buy. Its first scheme was to be unveiled the next day for 162 flats around Great Ormond St. The Council was also busy requisitioning property enabling it to rehouse 659 families. Work was also underway converting 165 flats. Its housing waiting list had 1,000 families registered. Priority for rehousing went to re-united divided families, families sharing with another family in gross overcrowded conditions, the absolutely homeless, and those living in bad or overcrowded conditions who also had a health problem.

The Council looked forward to the new powers it would receive under the Labour Government's Town and Country Planning Bill. With the help of other Councillors Marcouse answered a wide range of questions, including one on behalf of the Holborn Communist Party about whether the Council was considering setting up a direct building labour force. Marcouse replied that a small direct labour force was being established for maintenance work, but it would not be possible to recruit a force that could deal with all constructional work. She also explained that the Council was going to ask the Government to provide new places in New Towns or some of the people who cannot be housed in Holborn. A large number of those present indicated by a show of hands that they would favour the proposal and be willing to move there. Concern was expressed about the likely rent levels at the new flats. (56)

Holborn Communist Party congratulated the Council on holding the meeting: 'a brave thing'. In its post meeting report it acknowledged that the 'Labour Council is doing good work, but the job of rehousing our people is all too slow and costly'. It looked forward to further public discussions on other services like Maternity and Child Welfare. (57)

The Council put on a Civic Week in September 1947. Between 6th and 13th, there were daily film shows and an exhibition on how the rates were spent, Holborn's history, health, care for mothers and children, streets, sewers and lighting and cleansing, road safety and leisure and recreation. There was also a daily diamonds jewellery and allied trades association exhibition. Other events during the week included a beauty contest, a procession, a social evening, a fiesta of Spanish songs and dances, a swimming gala, a table tennis exhibition, lunchtime concert, a civic quiz and film sow compered by Kenneth Horne, a mock Council debate at Conway Hall, road safety exhibitions, a baby show, and a children's fancy dress parade. (50)  

The Council also started a quarterly newsletter ‘Holborn Council News’.  It contained a progress report on the building of the new housing estate. (58)

In his report for 1947/8 the District Auditor advised the Council to maintain "a close watch on expenditure ... In order that it may be kept within reasonable bounds." He was particularly critical of the expenditure on public relations, including ‘Holborn Council News’ and on the Civic Week. (59)

Holborn Communists and Housing

Holborn Communist Party had been active on housing issues. It considered the proposed rent of 35/-a week for the new flats being built to be too high, and reported protests against Council rent increases in London and Kent required under Ministry of Health circular 109/48. (60) The first tenants moved in at the end of 1948 in one of the 10 storey blocks in what was now called Tybald's Close.  By now Marcouse was no longer Housing Chairman.

The Communist Party was, however, surprised at her response to a deputation to the Housing and Planning Committee from tenants in Ridgemount Gdns protesting against Council enquiries into the means of Council tenants being rehoused there. Marcouse said "There are Council Tenants who are willing to pay the full rent of these flats. People who are dissatisfied or are unable to pay the full rent and be rehoused in cheaper premises at cheaper rents, similar to what they lived in before they were bombed out." (61)

When the Minister of Health decided to instruct all local authorities to review the rents of people living in requisitioned property, there was campaigning against it. In Holborn the Party called a meeting at which 100 angry tenants passed a resolution urging the Borough Council to reject the instruction. The Mayor was sympathetic and gave permission for a deputation to the Housing Committee. The protests led the Ministry to withdraw the instruction. This was regarded as a victory for tenants across London by Isobel Pepper, the Communist organiser of the Tenants' Committee. (62)

Despite the Borough's housing needs by the end of 1948 large office blocks were being built. A petition was organised calling for priority to be given to building flats for people at rents they can afford.

The Communist Party published a letter in the ‘Holborn & Finsbury Guardian’ challenging the Labour Group to a debate on housing. The Group's detailed reply defended its record given the practical problems involved. (63) On Thursday 3 March 1949 the Communist Party held a meeting to elect a deputation to take the petition to the Minister of Health Aneurin Bevan, to which Labour Group members had been invited. (64)

Labour Loses Control

The last Council meeting before the local elections was held on Wednesday 27 April 1949. Marcouse defended the Council against Tory opposition to a plan to provide offices, workshops, stores and garage accommodation for the Council at Cockpit yard. (65) The Housing Chairman gave a detailed reply to the Communist Party criticisms of Labour's housing record. (66)

The Tories took control of the Council. One of their early actions was the decision of the 27 July 1949 Council meeting to discontinue publication of ‘Holborn Council News’. (67)