James O'Grady

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For the American politician, see James M. E. O'Grady.
Sir James O'Grady
KCMG
James O'Grady.jpg
14th Governor of Tasmania
In office
23 December 1924 – 23 December 1930
Monarch King George V
Preceded by Sir William Allardyce
Succeeded by Sir Ernest Clark
17th Governor of the Falkland Islands
In office
1931–1934
Monarch King George V
Preceded by Sir Arnold Hodson
Succeeded by Sir Herbert Henniker-Heaton
Member of Parliament
for Leeds South East
In office
14 December 1918 – 29 October 1924
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by Henry Slesser
Member of Parliament
for Leeds East
In office
8 February 1906 – 14 December 1918
Preceded by Henry Struther Cautley
Succeeded by Constituency Abolished
Personal details
Born (1866-05-06)6 May 1866
Bristol, England, UK
Died 10 December 1934(1934-12-10) (aged 68)
London, UK, UK
Nationality British
Political party Labour

Sir James O'Grady, KCMG (6 May 1866 – 10 December 1934) was a trade unionist and Labour Party politician in the United Kingdom. He was the first colonial governor appointed by the Labour Party from within its own ranks.

Early life[edit]

O'Grady was born in Bristol to Irish parents. His father was a labourer, and after leaving school at ten, O'Grady did various lowly jobs, before training as a cabinet-maker, and became active in the cabinet-maker's union.

Political career[edit]

A member of the Independent Labour Party and supported by the Labour Representation Committee, he was elected at the 1906 general election as Member of Parliament (MP) for Leeds East. He had benefited from an electoral pact negotiated between Herbert Gladstone and Ramsay MacDonald, and faced only a Unionist opponent, who he defeated by a wide margin.

O'Grady was re-elected at the elections in January 1910 and December 1910 elections, and when the Leeds East constituency was abolished for the 1918 general election, he was returned unopposed for the new Leeds South East constituency. He held that seat until he stepped down from Parliament at the 1924 general election.

In the House of Commons, he spoke frequently, particularly on foreign affairs, and was noted as a strong supporter of the First World War, speaking at recruitment rallies. He was also Labour's only Roman Catholic MP.

Through his role in the Amalgamated Union of Cabinet Makers, he had been President of the Trades Union Congress in 1898, and he continued his union activities whilst an MP. After a variety of posts in unions related to the furniture trades,[1] he became general secretary of the National Federation of General Workers in 1918.

Governorships[edit]

In 1924, Ramsay MacDonald's First Labour Government offered O'Grady the post of British Ambassador to the Soviet Union, and he accepted.[2] He was a logical choice because he had successfully negotiated an exchange of prisoners in 1919 and had been involved in international trade union-led efforts to relieve the Russian famine in 1921, but O'Grady did not in the end get the job, because the government postponed exchanging ambassadors.[2]

Instead he became Governor of Tasmania from 1924 to 1930. The first Labour politician to be appointed as a colonial governor by a Labour government, his appointment was resisted by the Australian Labor Party, which wanted the job to go to an Australian.

He was knighted with a KCMG and moved to Tasmania, taking office on 23 December.[3] His governorship was marked by conflicts with the Legislative Council (which urged to do more to promote economic development), and his governors reports were outspoken, but he appears to have parted on good terms.

His next appointment was in 1931, as Governor of the Falkland Islands, but he retired in 1934 due to ill-health. He died later that year, aged 68.

Trivia[edit]

In 1910, O'Grady and three other MPs, along with Professor Stanley Poole, formally nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize the Polish physician L. L. Zamenhof, inventor of Esperanto.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ There were many mergers of unions in that period, and craft- and area-based unions merged to form national, industry-based unions, and the union names listed in the available sources do not entirely correspond to the list of furniture unions at http://www.wcml.org.uk/tu/furnish.htm.
  2. ^ a b Time Magazine, 24 February 1924
  3. ^ Australian States
  4. ^ Nobel Prize nomination database

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Henry Cautley
Member of Parliament for Leeds East
19061918
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Leeds South East
19181924
Succeeded by
Henry Slesser
Trade union offices
Preceded by
J. V. Stevens
President of the Trades Union Congress
1898
Succeeded by
W. J. Vernon
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir William Allardyce
Governor of Tasmania
1924–1930
Succeeded by
Sir Ernest Clark
Preceded by
Sir Arnold Weinholt Hodson
Governor of the Falkland Islands
1931–1934
Succeeded by
Sir Herbert Henniker-Heaton