A History of Britain, 1885–1939 by John Davis (auth.)

By John Davis (auth.)

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Tory policy was shaped in detail by Salisbury's Unionist Ascendancy 41 nephew Arthur Balfour as Chief Secretary in Ireland between 1887 and 1891. Balfour believed that the Irish 'ought to have been exterminated long ago ... but it is too late now'. 3 Instead he promoted a form of colonial paternalism, combining police action with economic regeneration. Balfour's arrival followed further deterioration in the condition of rural Ireland, with renewed rent strikes, including refusals to pay even the judicial rents assessed by land courts under Gladstone's 1881 Land Act.

In the summer of 1885 the Whigs had made loyalty to Gladstone conditional upon there being no offensive innovations in Irish policy, but the election result and the deterioration in Irish civil order during 1885 had instead prompted Home Rule, and the Liberal right distanced themselves from Gladstone. Eighteen of them voted with the Tories on the motion that brought down Salisbury's caretaker ministry, and Hartington refused to join the new Gladstone government. Much less predictable was the disenchantment of Joseph Chamberlain.

He saw the Liberal Party as the agent of the incorporation of the working class into the political system: in 1886 he Liberal Disintegration 27 donated £500 to the cause of labour representation. In 1885 he defined 'the principle of Liberalism' as 'trust in the people, qualified by prudence' . 16 Prudently or not, he attended the inaugural meeting of the National Liberal Federation and several other caucus inaugurations, and became the first national politician regularly to address party conferences.

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