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Which Party was more successful in dealing with the Irish question between 1885 and 1905?

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Introduction

Which Party was more successful in dealing with the Irish Question between 1885 and 1905? John Eames 13.5 This issue of Irish Home Rule is an aspect that came to dominate the political scene between 1885 and 1905. The problem came to accentuate the differences between the two main political parties in the Victorian �poque, or at least the differences in the main protagonists and leaders of the parties. The two parties took two opposing routes in order to try to answer the question. The Liberals, although not completely united on the matter, were in favour of Irish Home Rule under the guidance of William Gladstone, whilst the Conservatives were firmly opposed under the leadership of Lord Salisbury and the policy of Arthur Balfour, his nephew and Irish Secretary when the Tories were in power. One of the key reasons why Ireland was such a prevalent issue in British politics was that the Irish MPs held the balance of power in the commons. This fact was highlighted when Parnell and the Irish Nationalists switched support in 1885, as saw that they had got little out of the Liberal administration and therefore changed allegiance to the Tories. This resulted in the collapse of the Liberal government. However in fresh scheduled elections the Liberal party regained control with Gladstone still at the helm. ...read more.

Middle

Arthur Balfour saw Irish nationalism as a 'hollow affair,' an attitude that was quite the antithesis of Gladstone, who had read much about Irish culture and history and was convinced of a strong Gaelic tradition, quite separate to that of England. Balfour also stated that Irish nationalism was merely a 'sentiment of hostile and exclusive local patriotism.' He saw the racial integrity of the Irish people through derisive eyes. He didn't believe that nationalism really existed, instead he believed the anglophobes held contempt to the English because of separate grievances over the constitution, land, poverty and education, which had been played on by Parnell and his supporters for the cause of Home Rule. The Tory attitude was simply remove the grievances upon which the political agitators pry and the desire for Home Rule would disappear. Irish nationalism, like its Scottish counterpart, would come to mean little more than expressions of provincial identities, acting to invigorate rather than divide the United Kingdom. As a result of the Conservative's belief that the Irish question could be solved by eliminating areas of Irish objection, the Tories' response to the Irish question between 1885 and 1905 was a combination of a firm upholding of the law, with a number of Land Reform Acts. Also local government was democratised and the Congested Districts Board and the Department of Agricultural and Technical Instruction were established. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Conservatives also failed to solve the problem. The Tory government's attempt to 'kill Home Rule with kindness' was as a result of Balfour and other's mistaken notion that nationalism wasn't an issue, rather that reform of the land and of Ireland's institutions would quieten those who were disgruntled with the Union. However, this failed due to the simple reason that nationalism was a belief that was embedded in Irish society due to the Irish belief that they were indeed a different people to the English. However, there was an element of success by both parties' approach. The Tories managed to reform the land system in Ireland for the better with five Land Acts between 1885 - 1905. Also the Conservative administration established institutions such as the Department for Agricultural and Technical Instruction. However, although these went some way to improve the situation in Ireland, the underlying problem still existed, that Ireland was a part of the UK against its will. The Liberal government had a much more friendly approach to Ireland, by trying to grant it Home Rule. Although there being no success in the period of 1885 - 1905 the persistence for Home Rule was rewarded in 1912. Therefore the period could be seen by some, as a successful one for solving the Irish question, as it paved the way for Home Rule to be passed. The Act of 1912 was very much similar to that of the one that Gladstone had devised. ...read more.

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