You might be forgiven for assuming that Ealing residents have had little impact upon national and international politics, but you would be wrong.
Spencer Perceval, who was the only UK Prime Minister unlucky enough to be assassinated, lived at the south-west corner of Ealing Common. He was shot dead in 1812 in the lobby of the House of Commons. He appears to be better known for the manner of his death than his achievements as Prime Minister. However, there is a plaque on the wall of All Saints Church marking where his house used to stand.
Chris Patten attended St Benedict’s School in Ealing. He is perhaps most famous for being the last Governor of Hong Kong before it was handed back to China in 1997. In 2010 he was named as one of the country’s most influential Roman Catholics.
Another former pupil of St Benedict’s was Julian Clary. Okay, strictly speaking he wasn’t in politics, but maybe the most well known moment of his career was his notorious joke about Norman Lamont (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) and Hampstead Heath. He therefore certainly deserves a mention.
We’re on firmer political ground with Neil Kinnock, who was leader of the Labour Party from 1983 until 1992. He and his wife have their London house in Ealing.
Perhaps Ealing’s most surprising links to politics are the international links.
Asma al-Assad (wife of President al-Assad of Syria) grew up in Acton and went to Twyford Church of England school.
Há» Chí Minh, before he became a revolutionary communist and a founding member of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, worked in the kitchens of the Drayton Court (one of the oldest pubs in Ealing). The Ealing Civic Society states on its website that it’s considering marking this connection with a plaque.
Finally, as most people now know, Ealing is the surprising location for North Korea’s Embassy in London. Apparently (and I don’t know if this is true), the location was chosen for its proximity to Heathrow in case they ever had to leave in a hurry.