How successful was Gladstone’s first ministry?
Gladstone could be seen as relatively successful in his second ministry, as he managed to keep most of the groups in England at the time, on his side. The middle class, working class and non-conformists all stayed firmly by his side with the removal of unjustified privilege, continuation of free trade and Gladstone’s religious liberalism. However, there were other groups he didn’t manage to keep on his side with the landed aristocracy and the Anglicans, scared of Gladstone’s reforms in political liberalism, the increased option of meritocracy and religious liberalism.
One of Gladstone’s main areas for reform was in Ireland. Ireland was one of the key points for the formation of the Liberal party, and thus needed to be seen to by Gladstone. Gladstone decided he needed to disestablish the Irish church, as only 12% of the Irish people were actually Anglican. This turned out to be one of Gladstone’s most successful pieces of reform, as none of the conservatives were willing to fight for the church, and it was quickly passed with a major majority. However, Gladstone did have unsuccessful legislation in Ireland, with the 1870 Irish land act, and the 1873 Irish universities bill. Both of these were fundamentally trying to be liberal, but had very illiberal factors to them such as not allowing students in his new university to study theology, philosophy and modern history. These reforms didn’t receive the same popularity or support as the disestablishment of the Irish church. Overall, you would probably argue that Gladstone was a success in Ireland, as his biggest and most controversial piece of legislation, yet it still managed to be very successful and appealed to the Irish people and the non-conformists whereas it scared off the Anglicans.
Gladstone also introduced the removal of unjustified privilege, as he described himself as ‘an out and out inequalitarian’ but believed that privileges had to be justified to be...