Leeds MPs

O’GRADY, James (1866–1934) Labour. Cabinet maker.

He left school at 10, and trained as a furniture maker. He became interested in politics, joined the Independent Labour Party and in 1898 was elected to Bristol City Council. His involvement in the National Furnishing Federation, saw him become its secretary, a post he held until 1919. He had joined the Labour Representation Committee and stood successfully as its candidate for Leeds East in 1906. He had similar wide ranging victories in both 1910 elections by which time the party had been renamed the Labour Party. During World War I he was appointed staff captain of the recruiting drive in Ireland, a dangerous role to play following the Dublin Uprising of 1916. In 1917 he was sent on a special mission to Russia and in 1919 negotiated with the Russian Government over the release of British POWs and civilians. In 1918 he was unopposed in the general election for the newly created Leeds South East. He returned again to the USSR from 1921–1922 to help with famine relief but returned broken in health suffering from frost bite and smallpox. He had sufficiently recovered by November that year to stand, again successfully, in the general election, which was followed by a further victory in 1923. He then resigned his seat. In 1924 he was knighted and appointed Governor of Tasmania, the first Socialist colonial governor. From 1931 he was appointed Governor of the Falkland Islands. For further reading see Yorkshire Post, 11 December 1934; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online edition (Oxford, 2014).