• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent were Gladstones social and economic reforms in his first ministry a success?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'TO WHAT EXTENT WERE GLADSTONE'S SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC REFORMS IN HIS FIRST MINISTRY A SUCCESS?' Gladstone's first ministry (1868-74) was elected in favour of Disraeli's Conservatives, despite the fact that it was the Conservative Party which passed the Second Reform Bill, because the electorate felt that Gladstone had consistently supported reform. As such, his ministry passed many reforms in their first tenure. There are a range of criteria by which these reforms can be deemed successful, and many interpretations of Gladstone's reform programme. One interpretation of the reforms of Gladstone's first ministry is that it was, in the words of historian E. J. Feuchtwanger, a "great reforming ministry". In terms of social reform, there is much to commend this view. Although far from the most notable reform carried out by this ministry, the Married Women's Property Act (1869), which gave married women legal status and allowed women to keep �200 of their own earnings, was one of the most important pieces of legislation regarding women's rights. ...read more.

Middle

qualified as a success in terms of 'reform' and 'retrenchment'; in terms of clear economic policy, however, there was very little done by the ministry, perhaps because the economy was faring well and did not require government intervention. So, it can be seen that the programme of reform passed by Gladstone's first ministry, although not complete successes, consisted of effective and progressive changes which shaped the future of the country. The ministry reformed with good intentions, and improved efficiency of some the nation's key institutions. However, another interpretation of these reforms is that they were not part of a 'programme' at all; more that they were a series of unplanned reforms that alienated supporters. The aforementioned Education Act is a good example of one of the main problems with even the most successful reforms made by Gladstone's ministry: while they may have appeased or please one faction of the population, they served to alienate or anger another. Sometimes reforms alienated two sides: the 1872 Licensing Act drew criticism from temperance groups like the United Kingdom Alliance for not being harsh enough on drinking, but also incurred the wrath of the working classes whose access to beer was restricted. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is not the mark of a successful ministry, and it can thus be said that, although Gladstone's ministry may have had good intentions, the haphazard and unstructured programme of reforms single-handedly lost them the subsequent elections, qualifying these reforms as unsuccessful. Perhaps it would be most prudent to argue that although Gladstone lost support in the short-term, his ministry reformed with regards to the future. Theirs was a far-reaching and innovative programme of reform, and it covered a wide breadth of areas, from women's rights to army reform. At the cost of support and a consecutive term in government, in a fashion similar to Peel and his Corn Law Repeal, Gladstone's ministry pushed through many unpopular but effective reforms. And although to proclaim that his first ministry was 'one of the finest instruments of government that ever were constructed' may be rather hyperbolic, it worked with honest aims at progressive reform, rather than the more cynical reform of the preceding Disraeli administration. A successful programme, then, with bad consequences for the party. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How liberal were Gladstone's domestic reforms during his first ministry?

    5 star(s)

    In 1871 Army regulations bill was introduced resulting in people starting to be appointed on merit, the minimum period of service was reduced and the army received better equipment. This resulted in increasing the efficiency of the army and her reputation which helped to strengthen foreign negotiations.

  2. Peer reviewed

    How successful were the economic and social reforms of the Peel ministry in the ...

    4 star(s)

    caused unrest in Parliament, but it did not affect the Irish very much, who were in need of more food rather than more trained priests. This shows a failure on the part of Peel's ministry. Moreover, despite all the reforms Peel passed in order to silence the Chartist threat, he had to resort to violence (i.e.

  1. Peer reviewed

    Assess how far the success of Gladstones first ministry was due to ...

    3 star(s)

    This meritocracy system was key to the popularity and success of the ministry and Gladstone firmly believed in equal rights to a certain extent though some things we would now see as rights he considered privileges and duties, for example franchise reform where he was cautious.

  2. Successful at home but a failure abroad Assess the validity of this view of ...

    Howver, The Act was not taken up in all areas and would be more firmly enforced through later reforms. There were objections to the concept of universal education. One was because many people remained hostile to the idea of mass education.

  1. How successful were Peels social and economic reforms between 1841 and 1846?

    and poor (from reduced taxation) benefited shows just how competent Peel had been economically, and how successful his measures had been. However it can be argued that the basis of peel?s budget reforms had rested on luck- that Britain had already been heading for an improved economy due to the developments of the industry, therefore demeriting Peel?s successes.

  2. To what extent was the second Reform Act passed to "extinguish Gladstone and co"?

    This arguably was Disraeli?s only sought aim throughout the entire parliamentary crisis between 1866-67. The rivalry in this period between the two political juggernauts was at its ?highest and most intense point? during this period. As the Conservatives had been out of power for 20 years, he was extremely desperate

  1. To what extent can Gladstones first ministry be considered a great reforming ministry?

    Factory owners feared that with compulsory school being enforced this would remove children as a source of cheap labour. Instead, with the simple Maths and English they were acquiring, factory owners now had workers who could read and make measurements.

  2. Assess the view that Gladstones liberalism was the dominant force behind the domestic legislation ...

    This had been a valiant attempt by the government to tackle a growingly important and vital issue, with Liberalistic ideas as the dominant force for reforms. The Education Act reflected Gladstonian Liberalism through the basic intention of spreading Christianity by extending literacy.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work