Gladstonian Liberalism Essay

1236 words - 5 pages

Gladstone Essay What was Gladstone's liberalism and to what extent was it applied during his first ministry? This question focuses on Gladstone's liberalism and to what extent he applied it during his first ministry, 1868-74. Liberalism is a political philosophy that stresses individual liberty, equal opportunity and rights, Victorian liberalism was a mixture of ideology, morality and self-interest, and it advocated civil and religious liberty. Gladstone was the embodiment of Victorian liberalism, he tried to put forward his liberalism but he often found that he fought a lone battle in the cabinet. To assess the extent of how much Gladstone's liberalism was applied during his first ministry, I will be looking at the acts that were passed during this period and looking at how liberal in nature they were. His attention was mainly focused on Ireland as he said in his own words "It is my mission to pacify Ireland". He put forward 3 acts and bills concerning Ireland, at the time these were fairly controversial, as he was one of the first Prime Ministers to address the Irish question. The first act that Gladstone passed as Prime Minister was The Disestablishment of the Irish Church Act. This broke the connection between church and state and ended the Anglican church's status as the established church of Ireland, this aimed to reduce endowments and redistributing a third of its annual reserve to non-religious ends, e.g. improving hospitals. This was quite a liberal act as it allowed people to freely attend whichever church they wanted. This however showed Gladstone's willingness to solve a problem without appreciating its background and not understanding its immediate practical requirements. Th Irish Church Act was Gladstone's first liberal move and gave an indication of the path his future acts would take. His second act in 1870 was The Irish Land Act. This was initially one of his most liberal measures as it gave a lot of the protection to the tenant, the individual, but it was diluted so its effectiveness was reduced. It said that tenants should have greater protection from eviction and should be compensated if their rent was deemed excessive, be given compensation for improvements and repairs they had made and that new tenants should compensate the old tenants for their share in the property. The most important part of this at was the compensation if the rent was deemed excessive; Lord Salisbury objected to this clause as he said that no court had the right to adjudicate on the fairness of rent. This omission made the bill limited and unremarkable, this caused anger as it did not live up to its expectations and it failed to realise the aim of the land-lord. At first this bill promised to be a very important bill as it finally gave protection to the tenants but in the end it just made the tenants position less secure as land-lords could now freely increase rent as there was no-one to stop them. This should have been another success for...

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