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The Rise and Fall of Liberal Government in Victorian Britain cover
  • ISBN: 9780300067187
  • ISBN10: 0300067186

The Rise and Fall of Liberal Government in Victorian Britain

by Jonathan Parry

  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Yale Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 05/01/1996
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This book presents the first modern overview of Liberal government during the period when the Liberals dominated British politics. Parry argues that Liberalism was a much more coherent force than has been generally recognised, and goes on to reinterpret the pattern of nineteenth-century political development. The Liberal tradition attached great importance to 'parliamentary government' as the means of reconciling the nation to the exercise of government power, and Parry concentrates on parliamentary politics, seeing it as the best way to understand the Liberals' coherence and success. After a review of the origins of Liberalism before 1830, the book examines in turn the strategies of successive Liberal leaders from Grey to Gladstone and Hartington. Nineteenth-century Liberalism was concerned to maintain the rule of a propertied but socially diverse, rational and civilised elite, in the belief that this was the best means to administer the state economically and equitably, and to promote an industrious and virtuous citizenship. Because of the widespread popularity of the economic, foreign and religious policies followed to this end, and because of the flexible, sometimes cynical, presentational skills of Liberal leaders, the Liberals became the most popular party for much of the century. After 1867 however, argues Parry, Gladstone's crusading politics outweighed the gains achieved by the organisational mobilisation of grass-roots groups and led directly to the break up of the party in 1886. This book therefore not only presents a clear and original introduction to nineteenth-century Liberal politics, but also explores the theory, practice and consequences of Liberal approaches to theconstitution and to religious, moral and social policy.
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