Gladstones Second Ministry

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Conservatives defeated in 1880

Great Depression - from 1873, rate of economic growth of Britian slowed. Led to a fall in wages (5%) and unemployment increased.

Agricultural Depression - from 1877, Import of cheap N. American grain led to a fall in corn prices. Potato famine caused major problems in Ireland. Disraeli didn't think protectionism was practical

Rise In Taxation - Wars in Afghanistan and S. Africa led to an increase in income tax.

Party Organisation - Conservatives had lost their principal agent who coordinated Conservative logal organisations across the country. Liberals improved organisation with the National Liberal federation.

Gladstones midlothian campaign - Gladstone came out of retirement to campaign against Disraelis policies (Handling of Eastern Question) high profile campaign which attacked Disraeli and appealed to NonConformists.

Foreign and Imperial policy - did not promote clear success for Britain - costly and unpopular. Gladstone regarded Dis foreign and impresial policy as agressive, expensive and against British interests. 

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Corrupt Practices Act - 1883

Secret ballot act 1872 had suceeded in removing intimidation at elections but corruption remained.

Gladstone had introduced the Corrupt Practices Act to remove this corruption.

This Act ensured a candidates election expenses were set to a specified limit, and made clear what money could be spent on.

Act clearly defined illegal and corrupt practices. It meant politicians has to win votes by promoting better policies > reinforced by growing working class.

Act increased democracy in Britain

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Franchise Act - 1884

Push for this franchise reform came from Joseph Chamberlain, he believed extending the franchise to labouring population would gain Liberals voters. Gladstone agreed but took full credit for the reform.

Franchise Act

-Removed discrimination over voting, it was no longer tied to property. 

-Electorate doubled, 3> 6 million. Agricultural labourers and miners now had the vote.

-Act enfranchised the working classes and reduced the influence of landed classes.

-Step towards democracy 

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Redistribution of Seats Act -1884

-Redistribution of seats brought an end to the over representation of rural areas and under representation of industrial towns and cities. 

-Most constituencies were now single member and equal sized, fair representation across GB

-Increased electorate encouraged the two main political parties to improve organisation 

-Liberals had lost much necessary old whig support by the abolition of so may seats. The radical liberals led by Joseph Chamberlain toon on a more influental role within the Liberal Party. It marked the beggining of the end of Gladstones Liberalism.

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Lack of other reform

Although much was achieved in the way of electoral reform, Gladstone achieved little else in terms of reform. 

  • Distracted by cries abroad and problems in Ireland. 
  • Tensions between factions in the party also impacted on a cohesive programme. 
  • Gladstone now over 70 was increasingly difficult to work with
  • Chamberlains ambitions were harder to contain. However his plans for social reform, ignored by Gladstone and feared by Whigs, attracted the voters who gave the Liberals a majority in the 1885 election and gave Gladstone a short lived third term in office.
  • The Liberal party however was severely weakend. 
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Foreign Policy - Egypt

By 1878, Egypt on the verge of political and economic collapse. Britain had investment in Egypt and Suez canal. 

  • Egypt vital for trade due to Suez Canal
  • Disraeli had kept out of Egypt after acquiring Cyprus as an eastern Mediterranean base
  • After anti-foreign riots in Egypt, Gladstone sent troops and navy to bombard Alexandria, agressive foreign policy by Gladstone.
  • Egyptians defeated in Battle of Tel-el-Kebir and Cairo occupied
  • Gladstone had now acquired more land than Disraeli

Gladstone justified his "ungladstonian" decision to otherthrow the nationalist movement as British interests were of greater interest than gaining Egypt's stability.

  • Concerted Europe Actions with Egypt failed
  • Situation caused friction betweeen Britain and France. France and Germany jealous of Britains power in East Africa
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Foreign Policy -Sudan

Sudan was under control of Egypt. Sudans authority had been undermined by a religious extremist - the Mahdi.

  • Gladstone expressed some sympathy for the Mahdi's position and right to fight for his peoples freedom and right to self govern and no interest in Sudan so ordered withdrawal of troops stationed there under General Gordon
  • Gordon had marched to Khartoum to show British authority, contrary to orders. Gordon ignored orders to retreat, was besieged, and killed. Relief expedition arrived two days too late

  • Gladstone continued his policy of withdrawal, leaving the Mahdi in control.

  • Very unpopular in Britain, humiliated with Gladstones withdrawal from the Sudan, Mahdi was victorious. British public also angry at the abandonment of Gordon (Hero)

  • Gladstone had made a mistake in the choice of Gordon (pro-Imperialism)

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Foreign Policy -Transvaal

Zulus defeated in 1879. Trasvaal made a crown colony instead of self governing as promised. Gladstone had strongly criticised the annexation of the trasvaal in 1877 by Disraeli and so, expectation from the Boers that they would have independance. 

  • 1881, Gladstone stalled on the issue of transvaal independance, he was considering a South Africa confederation. 
  • As a result fighting broke out between the British and the Boers. Humiliating defeat of British at Majuba Hill -1881
  • Gladstone reacted by a compramise of independance, with the British crown maintaing sovereignity. 
  • Soon dropped after the Boers angry reaction. 1884, British Governement finally recogonized South African Republic. 
  • Gladstone hesitated before withdrawal, which was a costly mistake and Boers regarded British as weak. 
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Foreign Policy - Afghanistan

-Gladstones intention was to withdraw from Afghanistan

-Lord Ripon pursuaded Gladstone to continue defence of Afghanistan, although Gladstone believed it was risky. British didnt have enough control for sucess.

-In 1885, Russians siezed Afghan town of Penjden

-Russia expected to get away with it (due to Gladstones handling of Sudan)

-But Gladstone suprising threatened force and Russia withdrew

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Overview of Foreign and Imperial Policy

-Gladstones Foreign Policy attitudes in his second ministry appear confusing and contradictory

-Gladstone seemed to have a different approach in some events, considering Britains interests before mainting peace and the balance of power (Egypt - Suez Canal)

-However Gladstone was against interference with nationalist movements as he believed they had the right to express themselves, at the same time against pro-imperialist policies. 
Transvaal and Sudan made Gladstone and Britain appear weak

-Very little sympathy and understanding of Gladstones foreign policy actions. Even his sucesses were met with criticism and created divisions in the party between:

  • Radicals - Anti-Imperialists
  • Whigs - Pro-Imperialists
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Irish Land League

Why was there unrest in Ireland in late 1870s?

  • Effects of agricultural depression
  • 1877-1879, wet summers, terrible harvests and competition with cheap american corn> low crop yields and fall in price of wheat> fall in profits
  • Irish hard hit, tenant farmers couldn't pay rent and were evicted
  • Showed failure of 1870 land act - Act didnt offer protection
  • Response of Irish Peasants - Land War demanding lower rents and redistribution of land

Irish Land League

  • October 1879 - set up by Micheal Davitt - Fenian
  • Grew quickly across Ireland
  • Aim > Reform land tenure system, gain security for tenant farms - fair rent, fixity of tenure, free sale of right of occupancy
  • Backed by Parnell - Star of parlimentary Home Rule Party - encouraged activities of the Land league. "New Depature" - Linked land reform movement with Home Rule Party. Increased parlimentary power of Ireland.
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Conspiracy or Distress?

Conspiracy or Distress?

Conspiracy (against landowners/government)

  • linked land reform movement with parlimentary
  • backed by parnell - home rule party - using obstructive tactics
  • using examples of poverty and distress for a wider political (Home Rule) movement

Distress (genuine poverty)

  • Huge effects of agricultural depression caused distress across Ireland
  • Irish peasants response to poverty shown in unrest and violence
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Methods of Land League

Demonstrations - Mass meetings demanding "3Fs", meetings encouraged tenant farmers to withold their rent. Meetings often led to violence

Violence - Neither Parnell nor Davitt condemed violence but both urged members not to get involved in criminal activity. Violence flared as the agricultural depression worsened and the number of evictions spiralled.

Political - Parnell called for decisive action again Irish landlords and a campaign of obstructionism in parliament (filibustring) to delay legislation. Used at every opputunity byt Irish nationalists.

Boycotts - Non-violent but unnerving and encouraged by Land League. Landlords guilty of abuses would be ostracised.

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Gladstone's response to Land League

Policy of Coercian - Repress disorder - (1881 Protection of Person and Property Act)

  • Anyone suspected of illegal activities could be imprisoned without trial
  • Filibustering made illegal, Parnell and his followers imprisoned and Land League outlawed
  • However due to growing support for Parnell, Gladstone sent Joseph Chamberlain to reach a compramise with him. Parnell was released on condition that he would renounce violence and end the rent strikes.

Policy of Concilliation - Remove discontent - (1881 Land Act) 

  • Gladstone twice instigated secret talks with Parnell, while he was in jail. 
  • He hoped the land act would successfully adress the issue of land tenure
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1881 Land Act

Designed as a direct response to Land Leagues demands. There was much opposition in parliment.

  • Special land courts were set up to establish a fair rent with both landlord and tenant bound by the decision
  • Rent was to be fixed for 15 years
  • Tenant safe from eviction as long as he paid the rent and the rent could not be raised against a tenants improvements

-Didn't help tennants already in arrears and no definition of "fair rent"

+However in practice, rents were set 20% lower which brought down the price of land and enabled tenants to buy land.

+After a slow start tennants flocked to the land courts. It helped to turn around the prospects of Irish peasantry by helping them achieve ownership of lands

As a further concession Gladstone introduced the Arrears Act which cleared the rent arrears od all tennant farmers that had built up during the land war. This was after more talks with Parnell.

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Home Rule Movement

Why did the movement gain momentum in the 1880's?

Parnell - Skillful management of Irish MP, lrish Nationalist Party, Became inspiring leader of home rule movement, Parnells leadership was a main factor in pursuading Gladstone to support home rule

Ballot Act - 1872 Act had stopped intimidation and sucess of home rulers in the 1874 election was the ability of the Irish voter to express himself freely without peer pressure from land lord

Pressure Groups - Land League put pressure on Gladstone, led to introduction of 1881 land act, land league alliance with Parnell and Home Rule

Great Depression - Increase in economic and social distress, increased anti-british feeling and desire for seperation

Gladstones First Ministry Failings - Gladstone alienated his own supporters with his Irish legislation, and it didnt satisfy Irish people (1870 Land Act)

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Why did the Ulster Irish fear home rule?

  • Ulster (North) had traditionally enjoyed more economic prosperity than the largely poor agricultural south of Ireland
  • Ulster - Protestant (South - Catholic)
  • Close trading links with Empire, Ulster - Unionism (South- Nationalism)
  • They feared home rule would overwhelm ulsters special relationship with Britain and dilute prosperity
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Why did Gladstone convert to Home Rule?

  • He believed the government should remain consistant in its Irish policy
  • New outbreaks of violence in Ireland now Salisbury in power
  • Political Motivation - Win support of Irish Nationalists who had balance of power in 1885
  • Pacify Ireland - Home rule is a last resort after 1870 land act, 1881 land act, in face of continuing violence when salisbury ended coercian, Home rule would bring stability in Ireland

Gladstones policies are consistant, liberal and moral approach

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