Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thomas Ley

I added Thomas Ley to my list on 17 July, at 11:03 a.m....probably when researching somebody else. So he could be ANYBODY. I have no idea. Will he be a filmmaker? A politician? A murderer? An author? Actor? Lawyer?

What could it be?

I'm so excited to find out. Seriously. I am. I'm not being sarcastic; and I'm not exaggerating.

Ah! Lord Wiki says he's TWO of the above. It's actually kind of funny that I mentioned one of them because it's not the type of person I usually write about. I must have subconsciously remembered his name.

Thomas Ley was a politician AND murderer. I doubt this will be a boring research day.

Baby Thomas was born in Bath, England on 28 October 1880. For some reason, my fingers just typed 1978 instead of 1880. Why? I don't know.

When Thomas was about two-years-old his father died. When he was around six-years-old, his mom brought Thomas and his three siblings to Australia. I'm guessing they were part of that assisted migrant thing. I tried to find dates for that program the other day, but couldn't find it. Oh well. You know, I'm thinking it was probably ongoing.

In Sydney, Ley attended the Crown Street Public School. If I'm looking at the right school, it's in Surrey Hills.

Ley went to school until he was ten. Then he worked at his mother's grocery store. When he was fourteen, he moved onto working at a solicitor's office.

In 1898 he got married. Both he and his wife were into politics.

In 1917, Ley joined the New South Wales Parliament. He was in that until 1925. At first he was in the seat of Hurstville via the Nationalist Party. Then he was in the seat of St. George via the Progressive Party.

Is he the guy who killed another politician? Or am I thinking of someone else?

I want to remind myself what the Nationalist Party was.....

Lord Wiki says it was led by Billy Hughes. It was pro-conscription Labor Party defectors.

As for the Progressive Party, Lord Wiki says there were two of them in Australia....not related to each other. The first existed from 1901 to 1907. The second appeared in New South Wales from 1920-1927. The members of the latter one eventually drifted into the Country Party.

Ley was an advocate for something called Proportional Representation. Lord Wiki has a LONG explanation about it, and it looks complicated. I'll try to read it, and understand.

Well, I tried to read it, but it was way too confusing for me. I DID get that it's somehow related to preferential voting.

This government website has some information. Maybe I'll understand it better than Lord Wiki's stuff.

Yikes. I am so not intelligent enough for all this. Well, it took me about thirty-six years to somewhat understand the American voting system. Maybe by the time I'm sixty, I'll understand the Australian one.

I'm going to look at one more website and see if it helps me. After that I'm giving up.

See, there's talk of quotas. It's confusing to me. Basically there's a formula. You divide the amount of votes by the amount of candidates. Then you add one (+1) to that. In order to win, the candidate must have the quota. So if you have 2000 voters and four candidates, the winner would need to have 501 votes. But isn't that a complicated way of saying the winner is the one who has the most votes? If you get 499 votes, then there'd be a candidate who got more votes then you.

I am totally lost.

Oh! I think I got it. It's about the preferential votes! You have to get a quota of #1's in the preferential votes. So someone might have a lot of votes, but they weren't the first choice of many voters. I think you have to be the FIRST choice of enough people.

One of the benefits of all this crazy complicated stuff is that it gives minority parties and independents a chance to get into Parliament. In my not-so-humble opinion, that makes it all worth it.

So I have something in common with a murderer. I support this proportional representation thing. AND we also both abstain from alcohol. Because of this Thomas Ley had the nickname Lemonade Ley. That's cute.

The Temperance Movement was probably pleased with him. But then they were angry because he supported legistlation which would make it easier to sell alcohol. Maybe he personally avoided alcohol, but didn't judge others who used it.

I think I know where I am now in terms of that. I have no interest in drinking. I think it tastes gross, first of all. I've tried it a few times, and it just made me feel yucky. And I also don't like the sense of feeling out of control. Oh and then there's the vomit issue. I have a vomit phobia, and I stay away from anything that will increase my chance of too much toilet-bonding.

As for other people drinking, I DO judge them for it, if it causes problems. If drinking makes them violent, I think they should stop. If it's giving them health problems, I think they should stop. If they act like an obnoxious fool, I think they should stop. If they don't know how to enjoy life without getting drunk, I think they're pathetic, and they should stop.

If drinking makes people relaxed and happy; and it causes them no major problems....I'd say go for it. You have your beer. I'll have my chocolate. Differences make the world go round.

So, there's where I stand on that issue.

Oh! Good drama here. Lord Wiki says there's this idea that MAYBE Ley was being paid off by the brewery people. Well, there's a man who didn't stand by his principles.

Anyway, after his time in Parliament, Ley did the judicial thing. He became the Minister for Justice. Lord Wiki says he earned a reputation for harsh judgments.

Then in 1925, Ley went Federal. He had the seat of Barton. And THIS is the story I was thinking about. It's believed that Ley had his competition killed. That would have been Frederick McDonald. This is so Macbeth.

It looks like it started with Ley bribing McDonald. He tried to get him to withdraw from the election. McDonald not only refused. He came public with the information. Ley still managed to win, but McDonald tried to appeal the situation in court. Then he mysteriously disappeared.

Now there doesn't seem to be any real proof of Ley murdering McDonald. It could have been an unfortunate coincidence. I guess though other stuff happened that made Ley look suspicious.

In 1927, someone who publicly criticized Ley fell of a cliff in Coogee. Then later an ex-associate of Ley's was hired to investigate Ley. He fell off a boat and drowned.

Either Ley was hiring people to kill his enemies, or he was cursed. Although some wicked folks might say blessed. Maybe he was magical and just WISHED people to die. It's like The Secret! If you really want something....wish it, and it's guaranteed to come true.

OR it could have all been a simple coincidence.

Ah, there's something else fishy here. Lord Wiki mentioned something, and it all sounded a bit random. But I should have read between the lines. While Ley was Minister for Justice, he was introduced to the wife of a magistrate. The women's husband died. Ley then helped her with financial and legal matters. Then a few years later, Ley left HIS wife and ran off to England with this woman.

Could he have maybe killed this woman's husband?

I don't know......

In England, Ley began to suspect his mistress and a barman were having an affair. He told two of his labourers that the barman was a blackmailer, and got them to kill him. Lord Wiki says there were two labourers, but only one went to trial with Ley. I'm confused.

Anyway, they were sentenced to death. But their sentence was eventually changed to life imprisonment. Ley ended up in an insane asylum, and then died in 1947.

That's it for Lord Wiki. Although he provides a link to this ABC transcript regarding Ley.

It says the reason Ley was known as being a harsh Minister of Justice was that he strongly supported the death penalty. Yet ironically, he was able to bypass that himself when he commited his own crime.

He didn't just have the nickname Lemonade Ley. He also had the nickname the Hanging Minister.

The transcript says that Ley managed to have ample wealth. He was a rich man when living in England....owned various properties. I wonder how he got to be so rich? Was it from politics alone? Maybe he had taken bribes other than the brewery ones.

A guy named John Sackar is quoted as saying:

He was probably as close to evil as I think anyone could be. It's very difficult to see any redeeming feature that Thomas Ley had. He could function, it seems, simultaneously at a number of levels. He could be a husband, he could be a politician, he could be a father and he could be a murderer, and, presumably, slept like a top.

I have a hard time understanding people like that. I do the tiniest things and feel horribly guilty about it. Sometimes maybe I feel too much guilt. But I think it's better to feel too much guilt than not enough.

The transcript says that when Ley was working as a teen, he also attended night school. He had a strong desire to raise himself out of poverty. He lied about his age so he could marry a wealthy older woman. The narrator of the program says, When it came to social status, Ley was unstoppable. It's not always so horrible to want to raise yourself to a higher social status. It is very bad if you lie and murder to get there.

Wow. This gives a different take on the whole Lemonade Ley thing. I thought from Lord Wiki that other people had given him the name. Here it says, he gave himself the name. He might not have been anti-drinking at all. This stance was a way to kiss up to voters. Then once he got in, it was revealed that he had been getting money from the breweries.

The transcript gives more details about Ley and McDonald. McDonald claimed Ley bribed him. Ley denied the claims. McDonald kept at it, and Ley threatened to sue for defamation. McDonald backed down. He even apologized. AND he signed a document that put Ley at ease.

All was fine.

For awhile.

Then McDonald changed his mind. He came forward again with accusations of bribery.

Oh no! Poor Ley. What's he going to do now?

Well, no problem. McDonald mysteriously disappeared. His body has never been found.

Now onto the next murder story. This victim was named Hyman Goldstein.

Ley was involved with setting up a poison company. No, it wasn't about poisoning his human enemies. It was a farm thing. He wanted to get rid of prickly pears. I guess they were seen as a pest. Goldstein is one of the people who invested in the company.

Ley ended up stealing funds from the company, and he used it to go on holiday with his mistress.

Goldstein's son is interviewed for the program. It looks like the family had dire financial issues because of what happened. Goldstein led a court case against Ley. Goldstein junior saw his father frightened by phone calls. He believes the phone calls came from Ley. One evening he went out for a walk. He was later found dead, at the bottom of a cliff.

The transcript says that Ley made his wealth in London with illegal gambling programs.

All right. I'm done with that. Now I'm going to read the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry.....see if there's anything different there.

They say his mother WITHDREW him from school so he could help with her grocery store. I wonder how he felt about that. If he was not happy with it, it may have contributed to his later character. From what I've read, Ley didn't want to be working class. He had high aspirations. Being forced to leave school might have made him antagonistic.

Ley's aspired to be in law, and he made that happen. I have to admire him for that. He did the night school thing, and he got a job in a solicitor's office. Then he became an apprentice at Norton, Smith and Co.

The biographical dictionary says, Although detested by many in his own party, Ley was a 'fluent speaker, with a most unctuous manner', and deluded many with his community work and pious utterances.

Yeah. I'm weary of people like that sometimes. I think some people do community work because they TRULY care. I think others do it because it makes them feel and appear like decent humans. It's hard to criticize someone who has adopted twenty-five handicapped children from overseas, is on the head of seven charity boards, and spends each weekend working at a homeless shelter. And some of these people ARE truly good. But I think some others keep busy with volunteer work to compensate for something.

A while back, some bloggers posted a story about a poor unfortunate firefighter....a man loved by the community. His wife has stolen their child and ran off overseas. The fireman pleaded for people to help him find his wife and child. His wife was mentally unstable and he worried about his child. Of course, the fireman is telling the truth. He's a fireman. We have to trust THOSE people. They're heroes.

My gut feeling told me something entirely different. I saw a woman who was sick of people not seeing who she was truly married to. People can be heroes to their communities, and monsters at home.

Now I might be wrong. The fireman could have been completely good and honest. I'm just saying that I don't quickly trust and believe someone simply because they have a respectable position in the community.

Anyway, I think I'm done with my research for today. That's a fascinating story. Sadly, although Thomas Ley is no longer with us, there are plenty of people out there who are just like him. The world has way too much selfishness, greed, violence dishonesty, apathy, and hypocrisy. Hopefully there is enough kindness out there to balance it.