Even from the distance of 106 years you can get a feeling of the euphoria that gripped the packed audience in Leek Town Hall in October 1907. The speaker who held the crowd enthralled that autumn night was the newly elected Socialist MP for the Colne Valley Victor Grayson. He had won the seat in a by election pulling off an improbable victory against the odds. He was known as a great orator and the power of his speech making still leaps off the page as the Post, as was usual, carried a verbatim account of Grayson's speech.
Grayson's speech was full of humour, expressive and coached in a biblical language that many of his audience would have easily understood.
( A few days earlier a future leader of the Labour Party Arthur Henderson was preaching at a chapel in town )
“ It was no use talking about political economy in heaven. They could not find in the Bible “ Blessed be the rich, but they found without qualification of any kind “ Woe unto the rich and blessed be ye poor”
He could use description pretty well
“He had seen crowds of children standing in the streets of Ancoats miserably clad and half starved and thought that this was the best way to rear criminals”
Grayson was not afraid to use the word “ Socialist” which he used 40 or so times in his address and also to engage in class warfare with an attack of the Duke of Rutland “ He has accused socialists of thieving and immortality of all people Dukes accusing others of thieving and immortality”.
Unfortunately a glittering career did not materialise for him and he lost his West Riding seat at the next General Election. Grayson's heavy drinking did not find favour with his non conformist electorate. After the First World War he attempted a comeback. Grayson became involved in a bitter campaign against the then Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. He claimed to have proof that Lloyd George was involved in selling political honours and the involvement of an MI5 agent, Maundy Gregory, in this corrupt practice. In September 1920, Grayson was beaten up in The Strand. He claimed that it was an attempt to silence him and stop him naming the "monocled dandy" (Gregory) as a key player in the sale of honours. A few days later he received a telephone call whilst out drinking with friends. He told his friends that he would be back shortly and left them. Later that evening he was seen entering a house down by the River Thames. After that, he was never seen again.