THE Rev Dr Charles Leach is unique in the history of the British parliament.
He is the only Member of Parliament to lose his seat for being of “unsound mind”.
A biography just published charts his fascinating life.
Worsted to Westminster by J B Williams follows The Rev Dr Leach from an eight-year-old in a Halifax worsted mill to his breakdown under the dual pressures of being a wartime Army chaplain and a backbench MP, enthusiastically supporting the great reforming Liberal government as it pushed through the Parliament Act and the National Insurance legislation.
Though living in a slum, he escaped the mill to train as a clog and shoemaker. His rise came through the Methodist New Connexion, and later the Congregational, churches to become a prominent preacher, and his innovative Sunday afternoon lectures in Birmingham Town Hall were capable of attracting 4,000 people.
He still found time to write 20 books, edit newspapers and be a guide for Thomas Cook travel, conducting parties to the Holy Land.
But against all the successes were a series of family tragedies. He lost his mother when he was only five, and four of his six children.
Politics was another way to aid the poor and the ‘working man’, leading him to oppose Joseph Chamberlain’s divisive tactics and flirt with the newly formed Independent Labour Party. Returning to the Liberals he won the Colne Valley parliamentary seat, defeating the maverick socialist Victor Grayson, who was later to ‘disappear’.
Leach’s involvement with so many causes gives a fascinating insight into the history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
There was far more to his life than his forced departure from Parliament, and Worsted to Westminster puts the record straight.
CONTACT: Worsted to Westminster: The Extraordinary Life of the Rev Charles Leach MP is now available both as a paperback at £8.99 (ISBN: 978-0-9562523-0-2) and as an ebook at £1.99 from Darcy Press www.darcypress.co.uk