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George Thomas William Garretty (April 20, 1889 - February 12, 1976) was a Georgeland political figure who is most famous for his twenty-year tenure as Mayor of Santa Christina. Garretty was a contraversial and enigmatic figure who was noted for his republicanism, socialism and his laconic manner.

Garretty2

George Garretty

Early life[]

Garretty was born inb Perth, Scotland on April 20, 1889, the only son of Donald and Mary Garretty. Though Scottish-born, the majority of Garretty's family history was Irish, and he was raised as a staunch Roman Catholic.
In 1897, the family emigrated to Georgeland and settled in Santa Christina, still called Weston at the time. Donald, a coal miner by trade, worked initially in the mines near Zigit which kept him away from home, leaving Mary to raise Garretty and his four sisters alone for much of Garretty's childhood.
Garretty was educated at a Catholic school, but left school at the age of 14 to work in the mines, as his father did. He worked alongside Donald for a number of years, until Donald's death in 1908.
In 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, Garretty, like most of the working-class population, enlisted to serve overseas. Garretty later wrote that his experience in the army "more than any other event" caused him to turn away from Britain and become a republican.
Garretty served in Europe and Mesopotamia, before being discharged and returning home in 1919. He returned to his mining job, and soon became an active member of the union. By 1923, he had risen to become the local union secretary and a member of the Labour Party, as well as a fervent socialist and republican.

Political beginnings[]

As Union secretary, Garretty became the spokesman for his mine and for a number of similar mines in the area. In 1926, Garretty sought selection for the House of Commons seat of Cheltenham for the Labour Party. He was defeated, but the following year entered Parliament as MP for Zigit.
In Parliament, Garretty quickly gained a reputation as a republican, socialist, orator and firebrand. The Labour Party, then led by Oscar Lyne, was in government but struggling with the economy and the issue of war loans. Garretty made waves in 1928 by vigorously attacking his own leader, and in the same year made a much-publicised visit to the Soviet Union, which he described as a "Worker's Paradise". In a famous photograph, Garretty was shown shaking hands with Stalin - a photo that would haunt him in years to come.

Garretty

Garretty in 1930, while a Member of Parliament.

"That Socialist Rat"[]

Lyne and the other Labour leaders disliked Garretty intensely, and labelled him "That Socialist Rat", a term that stuck with him for many years. Garretty was unashamed of his political beliefs. In 1928 he proposed a bill that would have guaranteed a 40-hour work week; the bill was defeated, but when such a scheme was introduced in the 1950s, it was attributed in part to Garretty's vision. Garretty was an avid student of Socialist thought, and came to admire Eugene Debs, the American Socialist politician, very deeply. When Debs died in 1926, Garretty had tried to attend the funeral but was unable to secure an invitation. In early 1928, Garretty proposed naming a new Naval vessel after Debs.
Garretty's strong Socialist views led to accusations of all-out Communism, which Garretty denied. In a speech to the House of Commons on May 15, 1929, Garretty declared:

  • "There is no greater evil than a capitalist state run unchecked by robber barons who profit at the expense of the working man. But the evil therein lies not with capitalism, nor the robber barons, but the failure of the state to prevent such a travesty, to curb the excesses of the capitalist state that the workers may prosper and flourish and that the robber barons are left destitute."

Garretty can therefore be described as a social democrat or democratic socialist, though those terms were not in use at the time.

The Republic[]

As a strong believer in republicanism, Garretty became a vocal advocate of a "yes" vote in the 1928 referendum on separation from the Empire. While Lyne, as Prime Minister, was also in favour, it was Garretty who was seen as the government's lead spokesman on the issue. In October 1928 he led a march of some 25,000 republican supporters on the Houses of Parliament. His support for a republic, and sometimes extremely anti-British sentiment, led to the British Foreign Office banning him from entering the UK; the ban was lifted in 1947.
The referendum passed, but Santa Christina voted heavily against a republic. This disappointed Garretty, as he considered the city to be "home", despite his constituency being located in Zigit. The Labour Party lost the election of 1928, despite the republican win. Garretty switched seats from Zigit to Cheltenham at the 1928 election, though he was elected by a much smaller margin than he had been in 1927.

Defeat and Comeback[]

In 1932, Garretty was re-elected to the House of Commons. Now in opposition, Garretty turned down an offer to become a shadow minister and instead, his republican goal achieved, set his sights on becoming President. However, the constitution prohibited partisan candidates standing for President. Garretty resigned from the Labour benches in August 1932 and pledged to stand as a candidate for President in 1933. There was widespread opposition to Garretty's candidacy, particularly since the incumbent, Victor Martin, was so popular and had used his personal wealth to help fight the effects of the Great Depression. In December, Garretty withdrew his candidacy, allowing Martin to be re-elected without an opponent. Garretty was not re-admitted to the Labour Party. In 1934, Prime Minister James Gray called a general election to take advantage of Labour's disarray caused by Garretty's candidacy. Garretty was defeated in his Cheltenham constituency by the new, recognised Labour candidate, Sid Stern.
Garretty, no longer an MP, continued his activism, and was steadfast in his condemnation of Adolf Hitler in 1936, urging Georgelanders to enlist in the event of a war against Germany. He opposed the neutrality movement, and in 1938 declared that he "regretted" his actions in 1932. The new Prime Minister, Fenton Thomas (whom Garretty admired), arranged for Garretty's re-admission to the Labour Party in August 1938.
In 1939, with the outbreak of war and the Thomas government's declaration of neutrality, Garretty again opposed the Labour leadership. Garretty formed a movement called "Workers Against Fascism" and led a peaceful protest against the government's actions, while declaring that he was still loyal to Labour and to Thomas himself. In a meeting with Thomas in July 1939, Garretty agreed to stand down his movement in exchange for endorsement as a candidate for Lord Mayor of Santa Christina.
His political rehabilitation seemingly complete, Garretty stood for Lord Mayor in 1940, replacing the incumbent, John Babcock, as the Labour candidate (Babcock stood as an independent). Garretty was not initially expected to win, with Babcock's candidacy and Garretty's reputation expected to split the Labour vote, delivering victory to the Conservatives. Garretty nevertheless won the election with 42% of the vote (under the rules at the time, a plurality was all that was required for victory), and took office as Lord Mayor on April 13, 1940.

Mayor[]

Garretty's first term as Lord Mayor was marked by a frugal spending cut, to help pay Georgeland's costs for military deployment. Garretty continued to advocate Georgeland's participation in World War II, and devoted much effort into recruitment, despite this being significantly outside his brief as Mayor. He also commenced a civic building program designed to augment the city centre's failing infrastructure. Garretty, as Lord Mayor of Santa Christina, nonetheless had the smallest local government jurisdiction in the urban area. He set up a council of Santa Christina's mayors to help co-ordinate construction and city-wide issues. This was one factor in the later re-organisation of government.

Wartime[]

In 1941, after Georgeland declared war on the Axis powers, Garretty took a lead role in wartime efforts on the home front. Santa Christina became a centre for deployment to Africa and the Middle East, and Garretty, as Lord Mayor, personally met departing soldiers on the gangplank. He also personally oversaw construction of Malvern Quay, which was to be used for troop deployments (it is now a passenger terminal).
During the war, Garretty kept up his efforts to shore up morale at home. He took quickly to the medium of radio and broadcast a weekly message across Santa Christina, much in the manner of Roosevelt's fireside chats. This high profile, coupled with his building works and patriotic manner, won Garretty a second term in 1944, in a landslide victory.

Peacetime[]

With the surrender of Japan and the end of the war, Garretty turned his efforts to postwar reconstruction. In January 1946 he unveiled his "Great Plan", which would, over ten years, transform Santa Christina into a cultural and economic powerhouse. The cornerstone of the plan was development of Fortune Island into a high-density commercial zone. Derided by many at the time, the "Great Plan" has been retrospectively hailed as ahead of its time, and applauded for accurately predicting the growth of the technology sector. Garretty, who was fascinated by technology, forsaw a city which was the leading manufacturer of electronic components. His 'vision' was underappreciated at the time, and not quite achieved in Garretty's lifetime, but realised in the 1970s and 1980s when Santa Christina did indeed become the leading developer of computer and electronic industries in Georgeland.

"Garretty's Empire"[]

In 1947, the Thomas government announced an overhaul of local government administration. In consultation with the states, the major cities, including Santa Christina, were amalgamated into larger councils, with a directly-elected Mayor. Santa Christina's Lord Mayor had been directly elected for decades, but all other mayors in Georgeland (apart from the Lord Mayor of Emilypolis) had been chosen by the local council. Garretty heartily approved of the plan, which would take effect from 1948. Garretty immediately announced that he planned to run to become the first Mayor of Greater Santa Christina (that name was dropped in 1951).

Oldergarretty

Garretty as Mayor, c. 1955

The 1948 election was marred by Garretty's Socialism, as Stalin had commenced his occupation of Eastern Europe and the Cold War had now begun in earnest. Garretty's opponents used the photograph of himself and Stalin against him at the election, and Garretty was accused of being everything from a Communist agitator to a Soviet agent. Garretty nevertheless won the election, partly because of the working-class districts now brought under the mantle of the local council.
After Garretty's election as Mayor, Fenton Thomas is said to have told Garetty "Your empire begins. Go forth and conquer."

Assassination attempt[]

As Mayor, Garretty proved highly popular, though conservatives continued to oppose him, sometimes violently. In 1950, during campaigning for the Labour Party at the federal election, Garretty was shot at by Yevgeny Jersov, a former Soviet citizen who had escaped a Stalinist camp. Jersov missed, and was tackled by police. His bullet struck a bystander, Edward Dale, who later died. Dale is commemorated in a memorial in Hyde Park, on the site where the attempt occured.
Garretty was re-elected in 1952. His capital works program continued, and the city's new airport, Santa Christina International Airport, opened in 1953. By this time Garretty was aging, and in early 1954 he suffered a severe heart attack that almost killed him. He recovered in time to make a visit to New York, from which he brought back another ambitious plan, the Garretty Tower project, a 153-story tower which would, if completed, be the world's tallest building (at that time). The ground for the tower was broken in May 1955, and construction continued until August, when the state government, suffering from a budget crisis, shut the program down.
In 1956, a movement began to draft Garretty into running for President again. The law at the time prohibited Garretty running for the Labour Party, but some believed Garretty could circumvent this law. In 1958, the federal government led by Nathan Keegan, for whom Garretty shared a mutual dislike, succesfully altered the Constitution to allow the President to be appointed by Parliament. Garretty, who never publicly declared intention to run for office, had by now committed to serve another term as Mayor, having been re-elected again (though only narrowly) in 1956.

Final Term[]

Garretty's final term as Mayor saw him become increasingly eccentric. He frequently appeared in public and made bizarre speeches and pronoucements. In April 1959 he declared a city-wide celebration, but gave no reason for doing so. He was diagnosed with Alzheimers in May 1959, but this diagnosis was kept from the public. His works program having stalled, Garretty devoted his final term to developing culture and attracting culture to the city. The Santa Christina Festival of Arts began in 1957 and continues today, attracting thousands of tourists and millions of dollars to the city. Garretty planned to run for another term in 1960, when he was then 71 years old. However, he changed his mind and declared that he would not be a candidate. During the election to succeed him, which was won by Edward Hanson, Garretty caused embarrassment to himself and others by "gatecrashing" campaign events and launching into rambling, incomprehensible stump speeches.
In 1960, Garretty retired as Mayor. However, on his way down the steps of the town hall, he stumbled and fell. This image was broadcast on television and only served to increase speculation that Garretty was old and senile.

Retirement and Death[]

Garretty retired from political life, but remained active until the late 1960s in advocacy for Santa Christina. He made few public appearances, preferring to use the local newspapers as a forum for his views. He remained a dedicated Socialist. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he, somewhat bizarrely, wrote a rambling letter to the Santa Christina Herald in which he blamed Kennedy for the situation and praised Khrushchev. In 1964, he made an appearance on television to celebrate the history of the city, but said almost nothing and at times seemed to be asleep.
In 1969, Garretty appeared in public for the last time, at a dinner honoring his eightieth birthday.
Garretty died in 1976, at the age of 87, having spent most of the last decade of his life mentally diminished, to the point that at the time of his death he could no longer speak and needed constant nursing. On his death, obituaries mused that Garretty's larger-than-life persona in his heydey contrasted starkly with the frail, weak old man he was later in his life.

Legacy[]

Even his detractors admit that Garretty had a significant impact on the city he governed. In 1977, shortly after his death, Fortune island was renamed Garretty Island in his honour. Garretty Towers is an office complex built on the site of Garretty's ill-fated skyscraper. There is also a Garretty Highway, Garretty Park and Garretty Shopping Complex inside Santa Christina.
The federal House of Commons electoral division of Garretty is also named in Garretty's honour.
Charlton Robards and Lois Daniels, two prominent Christinian politicians, have both cited Garretty as a political influence. In Daniels' case, she has stated, Garretty showed that "reform is possible and that things happen because someone says yes." Robards has often spoke of Garretty's vision and his labour-friendly policies, as well as his commitment to public healthcare and education.
In a poll taken in 2004 to find the 20 Greatest Georgelanders, commissioned by GTV, Garretty came in at number 6.

Garretty in Popular Culture[]

As a well-known and popular, not to mention divisive, political figure, Garretty has appeared numerous times in popular culture. Some notable examples:

  • The book People's Republic (2000) by John Fisher is an alternate history novel set in an alternate version of Georgeland in 1957, where the country is a Communist state. Garretty is mentioned numerous times as being the country's ruler.
  • Another alternative history book, Just Suppose... (2006) contains an essay by Gordon Wheeler which describes what might have happened had Garretty been elected President in 1933.
  • Garretty featured in an episode of the animated series 'Round Georgeland, which documents a boy and his cat's travels through history. In the episode, Garretty, voiced by Roy Brandis, meets the lead characters and invites them to lunch.
  • The song We Live At Home by The Bandits, who are from Santa Christina, contains the line "And living in the shadow of the Garretty Tower/One man's vision, one man's flower.", a reference to Garretty's ill-fated project.
  • A 2005 TV movie, Garretty (TV movie), starred Mark Argyle as the Mayor and focused on his declining years.

Trivia[]

  • Ironically, given his distaste for Fascism, Garretty was born on the same day as Adolf Hitler.
  • Garretty never had children. There is evidence, however, that he may have fathered a number of illigitimate sons. Current TV personality Martin Cummings claims to be Garretty's grandson through his mother.
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